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Asia Undercovered #24 – Thailand Elections Issue

Thailand’s Election: A farce?

If you only follow American media outlets, you wouldn’t know that Thailand, the 20th largest country in the world and one which holds an important geopolitical and economic role in Asia, had elections this week. It got nearly no attention in as American media outlets are already focusing heavily on the US election, despite it being more than 18 months away.

It was the first election, long promised and of-delayed, since the 2012 coup. For those hoping to see a restoration of democracy, the results were a disappointment, by design.

Here are some pieces on the election, its impact, and what to expect going forward.

Prachatai called it The most questionable election in Thai history – and has a great roundup of updates.

Time ran a great story by Feliz Solomon on Pauline Ngarmpring, the first transgender candidate for Prime Minister.

And Channel News Asia had an interesting story on the governments new “war room” aimed at ensuring that politicians and parties don’t violate election laws (laws which, I might add, favors the military junta).

Also Undercovered this week

Surprising news from Kazakhstan, as Central Asia’s last Soviet era leader steps down. Unfortunately its likely to change little in the autocracy (HRW).

Is China shrinking? It’s cities might be, as satellite imagery shows decreasing urbanization. The problem – planners haven’t yet shifted their priorities, which could lead to urban dead zones in the future (Sidney Leng in SCMP)

CK Raut, who once led a separatist campaign in Nepal’s Madhes region, has agreed to a deal with the government and formed a new political party. Another sign of normalization in the Himalayan country (Kathmandu Post).

Asia’s other ignored elections

Next up is Indonesia, with general elections due for April 17th.

The race is stable, even downright tame. Ross Tapsell wonders if this points to a paradox, in which social media might be making the race seem more polarized than it actually is (New Mandala).

India is not far behind, with elections due in late April. There, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is running a US-style campaign around his personality, in an attempt to contrast his leadership with a fragmented opposition (Iian Marlow, Bloomberg).

Asia Undercovered: Journalist Nithin Coca's weekly roundup of the news, events, trends and people changing Asia, but not getting enough attention in the US media.