Daily Briefs

Photo : The Bangkok Post

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #03, 03 June 2023, Saturday

Thailand: Four issues between the Election and Government Formation

Nepal PM Dahal's Visit to India: Day Three

Story of the day

Thailand: Four issues between the Election and Government Formation
By Sreeja JS

On 14 May, the Move Forward Party led by Pita Limjaroenrat won the elections, securing 151 seats, and Pheu Thai secured 141 seats. Four days later, he declared that MFP, Pheu Thai, and six other parties would form a coalition government with him as the Prime Minister. Along the same lines, on 22 May, the MFP signed an agreement with seven other parties hoping to form a coalition government. 

On 31 May, military-appointed senator Sen Jadet made headlines by proposing the idea of a "national government," shared by all political parties if Thailand is to face a political crisis. On 03 June, Thailand Election Commission Chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong said that the commission would soon endorse poll results. However, despite the resounding victory of MFP and great popular support, its fate is yet to be determined.

1. Increasing uncertainty caused by delays in government formation
The Election Commission of Thailand has 60 days to endorse the official poll results. The election was concluded on 14 May 2023, with MFP scoring the highest seats. According to the Bangkok Post, there are no signs that EC will soon endorse the official poll results, even after two weeks post-elections. On 03 June, Election Commission chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong said that the poll results would be endorsed before the completion of 60 days ending in July, compared to the 45-day mark in 2019. The delay is giving way to uncertainty and the rise of other potential obstacles for MFP to form the government. 

2. Fears of disqualification of Pita Limjaroenrat
According to the Thai Constitution, people with media company shares cannot contest elections. Pita is alleged to have 42,000 shares in iTV, which could disqualify him from becoming the Prime Minister and member of Parliament. Pita had argued against the allegations that he does not own the shares in the company that went off-air 15 years ago and that the shares were listed under his name when he was appointed executor of his late father's estate. These allegations have increased the speculation that EC might disqualify him before endorsing results, and the court could also uphold the disqualification. This would result in declaring Pita's nomination as Prime Minister null and void.

3. Conservatives' persisting opposition
The calls for democracy and reforms in the monarchy have already irked the conservative camp of Thailand. Even though the reforms on royal insult law were not included in the MoU signed between the parties, the conservatives opposed the radicals coming into power. Therefore, for the MFP sympathizers, all the obstacles Pita and his party face are politically motivated and "foul play aimed at shooting down MFP," according to the Bangkok Post

4. Role of the Pheu Thai
Pheu Thai finished second with 141 seats and is the second-largest party in the coalition. If Pita Limjaroenrat cannot form the government, Pheu Thai would go ahead and have a good chance to nominate Srettha Thavisin as its Prime Ministerial candidate. For most senators backed by military and monarchy, less radical Srettha is more acceptable. It may keep MFP in the coalition but must agree to what Pheu Thai offers. If MFP decides to break away, it will become the opposition. 

Even though it can wield administrative power and pursue its policies if it stays in the coalition, the mandates on which it rose to victory will not be fulfilled. Thailand would have to wait another four years for another victory of the MFP. One has to see how the political reality in Thalialnd will unfold in the coming days. 


Charith Yonpiam, "Tough times ahead for MFP and Pita," The Bangkok Post, 03 June 2023

"EC Chief: Poll endorsement won't take too long," The Bangkok Post, 03 June 2023

"Democracy on the line," The Bangkok Post, 03 June 2023

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, "The Tide of History Shifts in Thai Politics," The Irrawaddy, 03 June 2023


By Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George and Lakshmi Parimala H


PM Dahal's Visit to India: Day Three
On 2 June, on his third day of visit to India, PM Dahal visited the waste management centre in Indore, identified as the cleanest city in India, the special economic zone, and the Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain. He arrived at the Indore municipal corporation's solid waste management plant along with his cabinet ministers, where he was briefed about collecting garbage from homes. He invited the Indore Municipal Corporation team to visit his country. He later visited the TCS/Infosys Special Economic Zone at Indore and called Indian entrepreneurs to invest in the IT sector, like Tata Company in Nepal. He also planted a Sunakhari (Wild Orchids) sapling at the SEZ. He also visited the Mahakaleshwar temple at Ujjain, where he offered prayers.

Prachanda's visit to the Mahakaleshwar temple at Ujjain sparked criticism and was seen as a 'deviation from his Marxist ideology.' Dahal, being a communist, has evaded traditional practices, such as wearing the daura suruwal, a traditional Nepali attire, or even swearing by the name of God, when taking oath as prime minister in 2008. However, during an interview with the media, Dahal later stated that his visit's main purpose was to observe the waste management system in Indore and put them to practice in Kathmandu. Further, he added that he respected all religions equally and urged to see his temple visit as his openness after coming to mainstream politics, not as a deviation. 

Swapping land an option to resolve the Kalapani dispute, says Dahal
On 2 June, on the 3rd day of his visit to India, in an interaction with the media, Dahal revealed that the two leaders discussed the boundary issues, and Dahal suggested swapping the Kalapani area with India to give Nepal access to Bangladesh through the Siliguri corridor. This was suggested on similar lines to the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary agreement, where the two countries have exchanged a few enclaves. However, this idea has been denounced by many in Nepal. One among them was Pradip Gyawali, the Deputy General Secretary of CPN-UML, who termed it as 'very immature.' He further put forth four reasons to justify it. "First, there is no provision to allow land swap in our constitution. Second, land swap is the last option for us, because first we have to establish our claim over Kalapani. Third, that route [chicken's neck] is important for India. And fourth, a person like the prime minister should not show his cards when formal talks have not begun. The prime minister should not speak lightly on such a sensitive issue," Gyawali said. (Anil Giri, "Dahal says land swap an option to resolve border issue," The Kathmandu Post, 3 June 2023)

"This visit has become historic," says PM Dahal
On 2 June, talking to Nepali journalists in New Delhi, Dahal stated that the one-to-one meetings with PM Modi had eased the situation. He further stated that he did not raise the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) report not to spoil the atmosphere, which would have hindered the progress otherwise achieved. He opined that the long-term energy deal was one of the main outcomes of the visit and that the leaders also discussed boundary disputes. He thus termed his visit as historic from the MOUs and agreements signed.

"One-to-one meetings with Modi helped in reaching deals with India: Dahal," The Kathmandu Post, 2 June 2023

Binod Ghimire, Many see Dahal's temple worship as deviation from his Marxist ideology," The Kathmandu Post, 3 June 2023;

"Nepal PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal departs for Delhi after visiting Indore," ANI, 3 June 2023


Development of village, upliftment of women
On 3 June, The Kathmandu Post reported on the increasing participation of women in construction works and other developmental projects in villages in Nepal, as the men are leaving for India to work. As reported by the Post, the anecdotes of women from these villages show that this has allowed them to earn for themselves and not to be dependent on the remittances from the men for their household to run, making them feel liberated. In Ward 2 of the Dullu Municipality, around 900 men work in India. According to Khadka, a woman from Pusakot village, the contractors, unlike earlier, are hiring women in construction projects as the villages are devoid of men and are now paid equally to men. (Tripti Shahi, "With men away in India for work, women fill void in construction," The Kathmandu Post, 3 June 2023)



Bangkok to cut electricity supply to Myanmar border casinos
On 02 June, The Irrawaddy reported that the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) in Bangkok plans to cut off the electricity supply to illegal casinos along the Salween River in Myanmar. This decision was made as per the request of the Myanmar Embassy. The request was made after the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar, Chen Hai meeting with the junta government in which he urged to combat cross-border crime, online fraud, and gambling. Shwe Kokko casino is known for online gambling, scamming, and trafficking and runs under Border Guard Force. Lay Kay Kaw is another casino allegedly backed by the leaders of the Karen National Union, which is Myanmar's oldest ethnic armed organization. Observers believe the electricity shutdown will not stop the casinos from operating because of generator backings in the casinos, and the electricity cut suggests the Chinese influence in bilateral relations. ("Thailand to Cut Power to Myanmar Border Casinos," The Irrawaddy, 02 June 2023)

Around 27 soldiers killed in four days of clashes, reports The Irrawaddy
On 02 June, Chin National Army (CNA) and Chin Defense Force (CDF) had a fierce clash with the Myanmar regime in Hakka and Zooey killing twenty seven soldiers over four days and twelve resistance fighters, according to a CNA spokesperson. CNA is the armed wing of China National Front, whose headquarters were stoked by the junta airforce in January, killing five and many others injured. On 28 May, clashes broke out when the 200 regime troops moved through the Mindat-Kyauthtu route controlled by CDF in southern Chin state. CDF said that it killed twenty regime troops in Htin Chuang village in Mindat, including the deputy battalion commander of Mindat-based Light Infantry Batallion 274. He added that one CDF member got seriously injured. Htin Chuang was targeted by the junta to occupy as it is a trading hub between the Mindat and Magwe regions. ("Heavy Myanmar Junta Losses Reported by Chin Resistance," The Irrawaddy, 02 June 2023) 



China and Sri Lanka are close friends, says China's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
On 3 June, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Sun Weidong, addressed the media and stated that China would hugely favour the economic recovery of Sri Lanka and the betterment of its people. He further highlighted that both countries are close friends sharing cordial relationships. He also pointed out China's efforts in its capacity towards Sri Lanka to help it out of the economic crisis last year. These statements came following Weidong's visit to co-chair the 12th round of Diplomatic Consultations between the two countries. ("China has been a friend when it counts," The Island, 3 June 2023)

Stable reform measures needed for economic recovery, says IMF Deputy MD
On 1 June, Kenji Okamura, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), after he visited Sri Lanka, stated that the country, through various policy interventions, is showing "tentative signs of improvement." however, the total recovery from the crisis is an arduous task as it requires the consistency in the reform measures along with cooperative efforts from both the government authorities and the people. Further, he highlighted "the importance of strengthening governance, which is a central pillar of the programme." He added that the relentless efforts of people towards the reforms needed good governance in place to safeguard the people's interests. ("IMF Deputy MD: Lanka's economy showing tentative signs of improvement, but recovery remains challenging," The Island, 3 June 2023)

PNS 'SHAHJAHAN' on an official visit to Port of Colombo
On 2 June, the Pakistan Naval Ship 'SHAHJAHAN', a 134.1 m long Frigate, arrived at the port of Colombo. It was welcomed with naval traditions. The purpose of the visit is to take part in many programmes organized by the Sri Lanka Navy. Further, the ship is expected to participate in a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with a Sri Lanka Navy ship off Colombo. These exercises are undertaken to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies. ("PNS 'SHAHJAHAN' arrives at Port of Colombo on official visit," The Island, 3 June 2023

Remembering the burning of Jaffna Public Library
On 1 June, people gathered in Jaffna and organized several events to mark the 42nd anniversary of the burning of Jaffna Public Library on the night of 1 June 1981, which had 97,000 rare books and manuscripts. In remembrance of this event, oil lamps were lit in the Jaffna University. Further, a memorial ceremony was conducted in the Jaffna library. The events saw the participation of many politicians, intellectuals and social activists. ("Jaffna remembers burning of its library," The Island, 3 June 2023)

Sri Lankans should not be fooled by bogus religiosity, says The Island
On 31 May, The Island wrote in the editorial "Bogus religiosity and political legerdemain" about the latest religious controversies erupted by a comedian, a pastor and a Buddhist monk. It stated that religious troubles are prioritized amidst the economic crisis. Further, it critiqued the police for acting swiftly over the aforementioned issues and its indifference towards offenders with political backing. Also, it pointed out the time when police hesitated to arrest State Minister Diana Gamage, charged with violating the immigration and emigration laws despite the court ruling that there was no barrier to her arrest. ("Bogus religiosity and political legerdemain,The Island, 31 May 2023)



Maldives Political instability: INR daily updates
On 2 June, the Jumhooree Party leader Qasim Ibrahim said that during the talks with Mohamed Nasheed, the latter persuaded him into running in the presidential race. Qasim expressed that such persuasion was solely aimed at Nasheed's benefit for the future. Further, he mentioned that he declined to form a coalition with Nasheed as he didn't want to be the reason behind MDPs disintegration. He added that the talks ended as Nasheed was "too hungry for power."

Further, on the same day, the Maldives National Party (MNP) 's leader, Mohamed Nazim while speaking at a Mass rally, accused President Mohamed Ibrahim Solih of being responsible for Maldives losing a huge part of its maritime territory. He emphasized retrieving the lost territory and intended to sue President Solih for the loss. The opposition PPM-PNC coalition, 'The Democrats', and Maldives National Party (MNP) have aligned together as they mutually disagree over the delimitation between Maldives and Mauritius. 

Nashees is too hungry for power, says JP leader Qasim
On 2 June, the Jumhooree Party leader and presidential candidate Qasim Ibrahim described the talks between his party and the Maldivian Democratic Party's breakaway faction, The Democrats, which got concluded. He said that Nasheed persuaded him to run in the presidential race. Qasim expressed that such persuasion was solely aimed at Nasheed's benefit for the future. Further, he mentioned that he declined to form a coalition with Nasheed as he didn't want to be the reason behind MDPs disintegration. He added that the talks ended as Nasheed was "too hungry for power." ("Talks between Qasim and Nasheed end unproductively, Qasim reveals insights," Avas, 3 June 2023)

Nazim accused President's negligence towards the loss of maritime territory
On 2 June, while speaking at a Mass rally, Maldives National Party (MNP) 's leader, Mohamed Nazim, accused President of being responsible for Maldives losing a huge part of its maritime territory. He emphasized retrieving the lost territory and expressed his intention to sue President Solih for the loss. He asked to withdraw the letter sent to the Mauritius Prime Minister. He added that this loss could result in huge economic and security losses to the country. The opposition PPM-PNC coalition, 'The Democrats', and Maldives National Party (MNP) have aligned together as they mutually disagree over the delimitation between Maldives and Mauritius. ("Nazim: Will sue President Solih over border dispute," Sun Siyam, 3 June 2023)



A Danish and two Austrian prisoners freed
On 2 June, Iran released one Danish and two Austrian citizens imprisoned. The Foreign Ministers of Austria and Denmark expressed their relief over the release and thanked Oman and Belgium for their support. The releases came after Omani Sultan Haitham bin Tariq visited Iran on his first trip there since becoming the Arab nation's ruler in 2020. There have been criticisms over the releases that Tehran might use in the future to hold Belgians, hostage to bargain for the release of agents like Assadi, who was arrested for "terror" activities in the West. ("Iran releases one Danish and two Austrian citizens," Al Jazeera, 2 June 2023)

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