Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for December 19th, 2009

Thailand’s Sporting Lift

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 19th December, 2009

Thais are celebrating coming out top in the medal tables in the South East Asian Games, which were held in Vientiane, Laos (for the first time). Thailand just pipped Vietnam in the gold medal tally (over 80 each), as well as overall. In honourable eleventh and bottom place came tiny East Timor, with three bronzes; though it is not a member of ASEAN, East Timor is increasingly cooperating with its larger neighbours. The Games’ triumph has given a fillip to Thai morale at a time when people have been unsettled by officially denied rumours about the octogenarian King Bhumibol’s health. Though there was an impressive fireworks display to celebrate the monarch’s 82nd birthday on 5 December, and he is deeply revered by the population at large, underlying concerns have not gone away. The economy (including tourism) took quite a battering following last year’s street demonstrations and the closure of Bangkok’s main airports. But what is impressive to someone like myself, who was also here last December when a new government took over, is how Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has defied pessimistic predictions and adverse press comments about some of his coalition partners and has managed still to be in power one year on.

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