Thailand’s turmoil began in November of 2013, after Yingluck had secured the support of her base in the northern regions of the country by providing free health care and other subsidies in exchange for their loyalty. However, anti-government protesters, who tend to be urban and middle-class voters, have protested against Ms Yingluck’s administration for months, occupying official buildings and disrupting elections in February. They say ousted former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who is also Ms Yingluck’s brother, is still controlling the government, and that the ruling party has been buying votes with irresponsible spending pledges aimed at its support base.
Both sides have planned rallies this week, and there are fears that clashes could occur.
Thailand continues to evolve from the old regime of an isolated Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy toward a more open and democratic state. As the progression travels through the Thai culture, there will be many hard and difficult lessons in the coming years. Democracy is not easy.
Thailand was attempting these changes when the rice scandal revealed levels of corruption and misappropriation that the US Congress could envy. Under the rice subsidy scheme, the government bought rice from Thai farmers at a much higher price than on the global market. Ms Yingluck has previously said she was only in charge of formulating the policy, not the day-to-day running of the scheme, and has said that the commission treated her unfairly. However, it resulted in the accumulation of huge stockpiles of rice and hit Thailand’s rice exports hard.
Meet the new boss… Same as the old boss.