Washington, DC, October 7, 2011 — On October 6, The Asia Foundation’s Thailand country representative, Kim McQuay, led a breakfast discussion in the Foundation’s Washington, DC office. He presented his perspective on the prevailing atmosphere in Thailand in recent months, following the election of the country’s first female prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra. The Foundation’s director of Regional Cooperation Programs, John Brandon, moderated the discussion.
Despite some initial concern that the election might be affected by a continuation of the political disturbances of the previous five years – including a succession of disputed parliamentary elections, military intervention, blockades of airports and government buildings, and large-scale street demonstrations – Yingluck Shinawatra and her Pheu Thai party won a decisive victory. McQuay reported that in the relative calm that has followed, her administration has moved forward with assembling a diverse cabinet and implementing several policies such as increased minimum wage and rice pricing schemes. However, he noted, the economic impact of these changes has drawn some criticism, while the longstanding conflict in Thailand’s southern provinces has yet to be fully addressed. Questions also remain about the current and future role of the prime minister’s brother, controversial former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a military coup in 2006, and about the potential reemergence of certain political leaders whose bans from political life will expire in 2012. McQuay also addressed audience questions on issues including prospects for a truth and reconciliation commission process, potential constitutional reforms, and the role of the media in Thailand’s changing political landscape.
As The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative in Thailand, McQuay manages programs that promote peaceful conflict resolution, greater citizen engagement in political processes, and more responsive and transparent systems of governance. During Thailand’s recent elections, he participated in an election observation delegation and the Foundation’s Bangkok staff contributed to expert on-the-ground election coverage and analysis. Watch a slideshow on election-day activities, taken by Asia Foundation photographers. Read more about The Asia Foundation’s ongoing work in Thailand, and recent findings from national polls of the Thai electorate. For media inquiries, please visit the Press Room.