The Thaksin administration, which started in 2001, is characterized by a high degree of political stability that has rarely been observed in Thailand. The aim of this essay is to investigate the reason for such stability.
No prime minister of Thailand after 1992 was able to exert strong leadership because he was subject to pressure from various countervailing forces: cabinet ministers, opposition parties, coalition parties, factions and MPs within the government party, civil bureaucracy and the military, mass media, and so on. However, Thaksin, the leader of the Thai Rak Thai party, succeeded in destroying this plural structure of power to the extent that he could liberate himself from dependence on the counterbalancing forces. Thaksin’s success owes much to the present constitution, promulgated in 1997 for the purpose of political reform, and to his own wealth and popular policies.
The 1997 constitution strengthened position of prime minister against opposition parties, cabinet ministers and MPs. The introduction of the single-representative constituency by the constitution favored the larger parties, and Thaksin was able to gather the largest number of MPs in preparation for the 2001 general elections. The Thai Rak Thai party gained 248 out of 500 seats in 2001 and increased the number to about 300 later by incorporating small parties. This large size of the Thai Rak Thai party neutralizes factions within the party and coalition parties. In addition, since Thaksin is one of the richest people in Thailand, he can finance the party by himself. Unlike other politicians, he does not need to depend on businesspersons for donation at the expense of political autonomy. His wealth is helpful in appeasing MPs who are unhappy simply to act as rubber stamps in the parliament. With the large number of government MPs, Thaksin can keep the civil and military bureaucracy in tight rein. Moreover, he has retaliated so severely against critical intellectuals and mass media that they may no longer be able to criticize him and his administration. The premier’s power suffers few constraints.
In addition to this stable control over the cabinet and the parliament, Thaksin’s policies, benefiting both rural and urban populations, afford him a good grip on the people. As most people expected him to revive the economy, the higher economic growth under his leadership has been especially important in mustering support for his administration. Owing to various policies, Thaksin has successfully maintained an immense popularity among the people. This popularity helps lessen the negative effect of power concentration to a large extent.
Lastly, it is important to note that the stability of the Thaksin administration is accompanied by potential instability of the political system. Party politics in Thailand has been characterized by an unstable administration and a stable political system. However, now that administration is stable under Thaksin, it is probable that the political system will become unstable in the near future.
This paper examines the process of institutionalization of child delivery practices in Malaysia for the last fifty years. The main data analyzed are the “Delivery Record Books” of 1957 through 2000 which are found at the Kajang Hospital located approximately 26 km southeast of Kuala Lumpur. A historical analysis of the data indicates considerable differences in delivery practices between three major ethnic groups in Malaysia; in the earlier period Chinese and Indian women were predominant in the Delivery Record Books, while Malay women, evidently preferring to give birth at home with the assistance of bidan kampung (traditional midwives), were scarcely represented. These findings imply that Chinese and Indians, many of who had immigrated to Malaya as laborers, had greater access to modern medical care under the maternal and child health policy of the British colonial government because the reproduction of laborers was given high priority during the colonial period. It was only after the 1960s that medical projects such as the construction of midwife clinics were brought into rural areas where the majority of Malays lived. In these clinics, the government midwives started to assist Malay women in their deliveries and advise them to deliver at the nearby hospital if any complications were expected. The government also imposed strict rules to prohibit bidan kampung from providing child delivery services. Hence, the number of Malays in the rural areas who gave birth at the Kajang Hospital increased dramatically in the 1960s, especially after the 1970s.
The purpose of this paper is to establish a general framework within which to consider pastoral systems in the coastal zones of the arid tropics, focusing on human-camel relationships. Points at issue were determined by reviewing literature related to three topics: 1) pastoral systems in the arid tropics; 2) pastoralists living in its coastal zones; 3) human-camel relationships.
As a results of these analyses, I set up twelve topics for discussion: 1) What kinds of water do one-humped camels and camel pastoralists drink to live in the coastal zones of the arid tropics? 2) Which species of plants do one-humped camels graze there? 3) What are the differences in pasture utilization between one-humped camels and other livestock there? 4) Which species of biological resources in addition to plants do camel pastoralists utilize there? 5) How do the coastal physical environments determine biological resource utilization of camel pastoralists? 6) What kinds of niches do one-humped camels occupy in the coastal ecosystems in terms of resource patch accessibility and availability? 7) How do camel pastoralists refer to the physical environments and how do they classify them? 8) How do camel pastoralists refer to the biological environments and how do they classify them? 9) How do camel pastoralists refer to the one-humped camel and how do they classify them? 10) Which species of biological resources of the coastal zones of the arid tropics are traded, and to what extent are they traded? 11) What roles do one-humped camels play in the broader network building and inter-ethnic relationships? 12) How do the natural environments and pastoral systems of the coastal zones of the arid tropics affect the survival of ethnic groups?
Finally, I summarize my discussion on some basic data from a case study of the Beja on the Red Sea coast in Eastern Sudan, and propose a direction for my study of pastoral systems in the arid tropics.