Thailand. A man with dual Swedish and Lebanese citizenship was arrested in January in Bangkok on suspicion of preparing for terrorist crime. The act was reportedly intended to be aimed at Jewish and Western targets in the capital. The arrested was reported to have ties to the Lebanese Islamist movement Hizbullah. The following month, blasts were carried out in Bangkok, which according to the police were aimed at Israeli diplomats. During the month, six Iranians were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attacks. Similar blasts had been performed in India and Georgia in the past. The Iranian regime refused to intervene.
One of the leaders of the yellow shirts, Sondhi Limthongkul, was sentenced in February to 20 years in prison for financial crimes committed in connection with his securing a large loan to his media company in the 1990s. In the same month, the Surachai Danwattananusorn, former leader of the Red Shirts, was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for majesty (insulting the monarch).
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Provides most commonly used acronyms and abbreviations for Thailand. Also includes location map, major cities, and country overview.
In the conflict between Cambodia and Thailand over ownership of land around a temple site at Preah Vihear near the common border of the countries, a small step was taken in the right direction when the two countries agreed in April to jointly clear mines in the disputed area. Later in the year the treaty retreat agreement was also renewed.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej appeared to the public in connection with ceremonies linked to the funeral of a member of the royal house in April. In recent years, the popular but diseased monarch has rarely appeared in public.
The harsh contradictions between Thailand’s two major political camps, called the yellow shirts and red shirts, which expired for six years, re-emerged in June after a time of relatively calm on Bangkok’s streets. The yellow shirts then blocked the entrance to the parliament building in an attempt to stop a planned debate on a government proposal for a path to reconciliation between the two political camps. The yellow shirts, which are in opposition to the opposition, feared that the reconciliation process was in fact intended to allow the country’s fugitive, corruption-convicted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to be allowed to return from his self-elected exile without being imprisoned. The proposal on how the reconciliation would go was presented by a parliamentary committee in April. It included, among other things, amnesty for all those who participated in the violent street protests against the then government in the spring of 2010, which were mainly red shirts, and for those who participated in the actions the yellow shirts carried out in 2005-10. The proposal also meant that some corruption charges against Thaksin would be discontinued and the penalty scale for majestic crimes would be alleviated. The debate about the reconciliation process was postponed to a later date due to the unrest.
The red shirts were supporters of the politicians gathered around Thaksin’s political ideas, while the yellow shirts united in strong opposition to the controversial Thaksin and instead were supporters of more traditional centers of power in Thai society, such as the royal house, the military and the Liberal Conservative Democratic Party. Government power was held during the year by the Thaksin camp, whose leader Yingluck Shinawatra is the sister of Thaksin and the country’s prime minister.
In February, the Yingluck government appointed a group tasked with proposing a new constitution, something that Thaksin Camp’s main party for Thailand has pushed hard. Following protests from the Democratic Party, the Constitutional Court ruled in July that the ruling party had the right to make certain constitutional changes in the strength of its majority in Parliament, but that a yes in a referendum was required to introduce a completely new constitution. In 2007, the then military-backed government introduced a new constitution and abolished it from 1997. Thailand wanted to re-establish the 1997 constitution.
The rebuilding after the severe floods in 2011 was costly but successful, and Thailand’s economy turned upwards already in the first quarter of 2012. During the year, both gross domestic product and industrial production increased. The economy was driven by both domestic consumption and exports, although the decline in the global economy was also noticeable in the export-dependent Thai economy.
In November, thousands of people gathered again in central Bangkok to protest against the government, which they considered to be corrupt. The demonstration was organized by the newly formed group Pitak Siam (Protect Thailand).
In December, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democratic Party and his Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban were charged with being ultimately responsible for a taxi driver being shot dead by police during the regime’s crackdown on the red-shirt government-critical demonstrations in Bangkok in 2010. Both pleaded not guilty. If Abhisit is convicted of murder, he faces the death penalty or many years in prison.
According to countryaah, the population of Thailand in 2012 was 68,714,400, ranking number 20 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.450% yearly, and the population density was 134.4996 people per km2.