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2012 offers glimmer of hope for new year
Publication Date : 01-01-2013
A new year is all about hope and positive changes. Despite continuing trouble, Thailand will not give up looking for a silver lining where its turbulent politics is concerned. We cannot honestly call it the beginning of a new deal, but 2013 must be faced and negotiated by all Thais with a renewed sense of brotherhood.
The national divide will try to keep its firm grip on our course, but Thais have shown the world that their ideological strife, while influential, does not have absolute power over them - and that will continue to be the case in 2013.
Although it has seemed that the nation can hardly move forward, the Yingluck government is entering its year-and-a-half mark. Considering that the prime minister is the sister of a most divisive figure, and a fugitive, Thailand's political system still cannot be deemed as being too rigid. Her government has implemented some controversial policies within the scope of its democratic mandate. This new year will see attempts to write a new Constitution, and that will cause fresh uncertainty. On the bright side, political rivals are moving more cautiously, and no one seems to want an outright confrontation.
Many people believe the national strife, which erupted into violence in 2010, will subside over time and become like the ideological conflicts not uncommon in most developed countries. Although some cannot see that happening soon, the national unity seen during the 2011 flood disaster, and the restraint and tolerance demonstrated throughout 2012, have provided positive notes on how Thais can deal with political tension this year.
Economically, the Kingdom is relatively healthy. The private sector has not only shown it's able to forget about politics and conduct business as usual, it has also become involved in efforts to make politics cleaner. Last year saw the unprecedented involvement of the private sector in an anti-corruption campaign. This year everyone is hoping to see its continuation and intensification, with big corporations playing a role.
One key foundation of hope is the still-increasing role of the social media. No matter how much state effort goes into institutionalising public participation in political and national affairs, the truth is that the social media are already making it happen. On one hand, the social media may have been a battleground for politically divided Thais. On the other hand, they have been a great provider of lessons on democracy, freedom and the responsibility that has to go with it, and how technology can promote self-reliance.
Thailand and her fellow Asean members will be another year closer to their economic integration scheme. Excitement over the advent of the Asean Economic Community will keep growing. While anxiety will also increase, opportunities will undoubtedly be recognised and seized. Depending on how we look at it, the world will be bigger or smaller. Whatever the case, Thais must be prepared, because the changes require readiness, competitiveness and positive thinking.
Little or no progress was seen in 2012 regarding Thailand's troubled deep South. The insurgents' strength did not seem to fade, and they probably took advantage of the country's woes elsewhere. However, while few analysts forecast a major breakthrough this year, negotiations are likely to intensify. Hopefully 2013 will see the authorities focusing more on this serious problem, which has been unfortunately overshadowed by other troubles in Thailand.
A campaign is in place to educate young Thais about the perils of corruption, after successive opinion polls in 2012 showed an alarming trend of indifference or downright misconception on the issue. A majority of Thais told pollsters they would accept corruption if it benefited them. Hopefully, again, 2013 will teach the younger generation that corruption benefits no one, and that even when it seems that graft can deliver what they need, it will sooner or later come back to take away more.
As usual, a new year brings plenty of challenges. And as usual, they exist along with opportunities. Thailand once again is in a position to take on the former and try her best not to miss the latter.