It’s clear that there are concerns over the health of the King of Thailand, who recently underwent spinal surgery. (See Woolly Days for details on the King’s dynastic history -he links to the rather lurid circumstances surrounding the death of the present King’s predecessor- and health; also, there are some interesting photos of how Thais love their King).
(image borrowed from thaitraitors blog)
However, what is of central interest in Thailand now is the arrest of four members of the Thai elections commission (their equivalent of the Philippine Comelec). An analysis points to a recent (and uprecedented) communication from the King, expressing his wishes for peace, stability, and clean elections. the king threw his considerable moral influence behind an appeal for the courts to resolve the Thai political crisis (among his objectives, the analysis asserts, is to head off a potential coup by soldiers upset over the ongoing political scandals).
The courts seem to be complying. the analysis argues that if the courts confirm the arrests, then Prime Minister Thaksin could be in political trouble. An Associated Press report indicates as much, too. (picture from the blog Traitors). Another interesting thing is that a few parties could be disqualified from participating in future elections for violating the rules.
It all sounds achingly familiar, though more positive for the Thais. Then again, someone asks, can this ever happen in Malaysia? With, apparently, the same kind of wistfulness I feel.
A part of me now understands why under the 1935 Constitution, Congress only had 100 session days out of the year (today, Congress holds session continuously except for a specified period between one regular session and the next, and prior to an election). So perhaps Congress should be part-time again.
(today’s editorial cartoon from Inquirer)
My Arab News column for this week is Do Filipinos Long for a More Charismatic Leader? I decided to focus less on the particulars of the President’s speech and more on what the speech says about her way of thinking (if the provinces want their infrastructure, not only will they get it, but they should get it: the only concern should be that the various plans make some sort of overall sense, and they do, and that they don’t end up worthless due to illegal commission-taking).
Other columnists have weighed in on the details of the President’s address. Bong Austero says the plans are nice, and at least the President has a plan; Manuel Buencamino says it’s a holiday resort map and essentially meaningless. Mike Tan concentrates on what he believes was ominously left out of the speech.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Business Mirror both editorialize, skeptically, on the speech. Going from strength to satirical strength, The Professional Heckler unleashes a string of devastating one liners.
Patricio Diaz discusses an ongoing debate about what should be done with the traditional Moro ruling families.
Slate points to an engrossing article in The New Yorker on Wikipedia, how it’s grown, what it contains, and how it’s demonstrating the benefits and limits of accumulating information according to a democratic framework. I like Wikipedia very much, and I have depended on it a great deal -though its limitations are there and obvious (but the benefits far outweigh them, I believe).