The Greater Mekong Subregion consist of Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Lao PDR, Thailand, Yunnan Province of China and Vietnam. It also happen to be the beneficiary of the international aid project where I used to work for. Three of the priority countries, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam, eventually became my area of interest for my studies at the university.
Anyway, I’m not here to discuss about my research nor what happened to my fieldwork but to discuss bits and pieces what’s abuzz in these three countries including Thailand.
It was nice to be back in Thailand, catch up with old friends and colleagues. However, it was a pity to return in a similar situation–political turmoil. When I left Thailand last year, they were just trying to establish a new government and now they are trying to unseat the elected government. At some point and this might sound similar to Pinoy readers, there is a strong middle class movement in Thailand and whenever they move, the government is shaken (at some point). Adding to the woes of the government was its endorsement of Cambodia’s bid to enlist Preah Vihear Temple near the Thai-Cambodian border. The Thais still consider the temple to belong to them even if it was awarded by the World Court in 1962 to Cambodia.
So at this stage, the Thai government is on shaky ground despite gaining some grounds in prosecuting former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
In Cambodia, a national election is expected in a few days. Election there is quite different in the Philippines, though there is not much election violence, some Cambodians told me that theft crimes are on the increase because of the political exercise. Some claimed that these crimes are sponsored by the parties?!
It was nice to be back in Vientiane, capital of Lao PDR, the city has improved since I was there. All the roads are paved but the odd thing for a least developed country, Hummer trucks are thriving!? As to where some of the Lao national get the money, I’m not sure but it was good that some of them are making progress but I hope they also couple this with intensive driver education. There are still a lot of motorcycles in Vientiane but while they adhere to traffic rules, you can see that not everybody would know what to do in an unmarked road (who goes first?!). I guess the Vientiane traffic ‘headache’ is better than in Cambodia where motorist (even those driving four wheels) do not stop at the red light. But I’m amazed at how Cambodians drive–very defensive. The traffic police only intervenes if there’s an accident so, each motorist are expected to be as defensive as much as possible.
As for Hanoi, it is as nice as ever and because of the rains, there’s not much motorcyles on the road today but tonight most of them are all out again. No major news here except they are trying to develop a ‘new’ Hanoi, just in the vicinity of Hanoi. 🙂