Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Read more at The Diplomat

A housewife was arrested and charged with sedition in Thailand for posting a photo of a red bowl given by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Facebook. She was released after posting a bail of 100,000 baht ($2,800). If found guilty in a military trial, she could face up to seven years in jail.

The red bowl has an inscription which reads: “The situation may be hot, but brothers and sisters may gain coolness from the water inside this bucket.” It is intended for Thaksin’s supporters in north Thailand to be used in the Buddhist water ceremonies during the Songkran festival or Thai New Year this month.

If an ordinary red bowl provokes such an overreaction from the junta, how can Thai citizens be convinced that they can ever express their real views about politics? And if posting photos on Facebook constitutes an act of sedition, how can the ruling junta convince Thais, as well as concerned international observers, that it is still committed to preserving basic freedoms even as it attempts to balance that with concerns about political stability?

The Trouble With Cambodia’s New Law on Trade Unions

Read more at The Diplomat

Cambodia’s National Assembly has adopted a Law on Trade Unions but labor groups, human rights advocates, and opposition politicians warn that it could be used to stifle the workers’ movement in the country.

The law was proposed at a time when workers have been staging sustained protests in factories and in the streets demanding wage increases and improvements in their working conditions. Factory strikes, fainting garment workers, and the political activities of labor groups have attracted widespread international attention, forcing the government to make a commitment to improving the welfare of the country’s workers. Multinational garment companies also pressured the government to ensure that workers are receiving the right amount of wages and benefits.

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