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
countryaah, 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).
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 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
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.