Newley Purnell's home on the web since 2001

Month: September 2009 (Page 1 of 2)

Does Sydney have better Thai food than Thailand?

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Wake up, Sydney, and smell the lemongrass. Do you know what’s under your collective nose? Anyone who has lived away from this city for any time suffers withdrawal symptoms for Thai chicken curry, deep-fried snapper with sweet chilli sauce, pad thai noodles or Thai beef salad, whether from Longrain, Chat Thai, Spice I Am, Sailor’s Thai or (insert your favourite local Thai here). Even Sydneysiders who have moved to Thailand suffer post-Sydney-Thai-fabulousness syndrome.

That’s because there is nothing in the world like Sydney Thai food. Europe can’t do it and neither can America. London certainly can’t, with one honourable exception (David Thompson’s Nahm), and neither can Bangkok, because only Sydney has the mix of climate, produce, attitude and style – and those last two are as important as the first two.

(Emphasis mine.)

Link via this New Mandala post, where you’ll find some reactions to the story. And here’s more, um, hard-hitting feedback from Stomachs on Legs.

TIME magazine on Thai PM Abhisit

Just wanted to point out that the current TIME magazine has a story about PM Abhisit. The headline, appropriately enough, is “Man in the Middle,” and the piece describes the current state of the Thai political crisis and Abhisit’s place in it. in the new Lonely Planet: Thailand

Lonely Planet Thailand has earned a mention in the new Lonely Planet Thailand guide book. This humble blog is listed under the heading “The Inside Scoop,” on page 107. It’s part of a round-up of “informative or entertaining” Thailand blogs.

And in the Sights section of the Bangkok chapter, on page 139, you’ll also find a brief interview with yours truly and my Thai teacher, Khun Ju, about foreigners learning Thai. (The Bangkok chapter and other parts of the LP were written by Bangkok-based foodie photog Austin Bush, who — I can tell you from personal experience — knows Thailand very, very well. And I’m not just saying that.)

Australian dust storm in the WSJ, IHT, and Bangkok Post

Australia dust storm in today's papers

Interesting sight this morning: All three of the newspapers we receive featured front page images of yesterday’s remarkable dust storm in Australia.

An AP story about the storm is here, Wikipedia has some info here, and you can find more images from the always-excellent Big Picture photo blog here.

Thailand sports news: Robson in, Rafa out

Just wanted to draw your attention to two Thailand sports stories:

  1. A conclusion to the Peter Reid saga: Ex-Manchester United midfielder Bryan Robson is the next coach of the Thailand national soccer team. BBC has the details, and here’s more from the Nation and the Bangkok Post.
  2. Tennis news: Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Thailand Open due to an abdominal injury. The AP has more in this short item.

Images and videos from Saturday’s Red Shirts protest

Here are a few images I snapped at Saturday’s red shirt protest here in Bangkok. (Back story is here and here.)

Red shirts protest

Red shirts protest

Red shirts protest

Red shirts protest

Red shirts protest

Red shirts protest

There are a few more in the full set on Flickr.

And below are two short videos. I shot these on my Nokia E71 cell phone amid the pouring rain, with a clouded lens, so please excuse the image quality. The videos should give you a sense of the atmosphere at the rally, however.

Video one (embedded below): protesters listen to a speech in the rain.

Video two: a motorbike procession:

Reds and yellows protest in Thailand

Yesterday’s red shirt protest here in Bangkok attracted some 30,000 demonstrators. Despite concerns about the potential for violence, the rally was peaceful. has details here.

Meanwhile, on the Thailand-Cambodia border, yellow shirt demonstrators fought with local residents near the Preah Vihear temple. Here’s a BBC News report with video of the clashes.

I spent a few hours at the red shirt rally and will be writing more about that soon.

Explaining today’s red shirt rally

The Bangkok Post has details on today’s planned red shirt rally here in the Thai capital.

For a big picture look at why the anti-government demonstrators are gathering, I suggest this CSM story: “Briefing: Why Thai protesters are taking to the streets again.”

The role of the military in Thai politics

Political analyst Thitinan Pongsudhirak — whose recent story about the national police chief saga I mentioned yesterday — has another Bangkok Post opinion piece worth reading. It’s about the role of the military in Thai politics. You can find it here. Timely reading, as tomorrow (Sat., Sept. 19th) is the three year anniversary of the military coup that toppled exiled former PM Thaksin.

Thai PM Abhisit, Thaksin, and wrangling over the national police chief

Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva
Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva

An important political story in Thailand at the moment is the ongoing tussle over appointing a new national police chief. Here’s a summary of what’s happening — and why it matters.

First, some background: Thailand’s police force became a highly politicized body during exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s 2001-2006 tenure. Thaksin himself was once a cop, and many high-ranking police officials are still loyal to the billionaire.

PM Abhisit came to office in December, 2008, of course, after prolonged anti-Thaksin protests, which culminated in the seizure of Bangkok’s airports by anti-Thaksin yellow shirt protesters.

Abhisit is now attempting to replace the current police chief, who is seen as a Thaksin ally and is due to retire at the end of Sept. Abhisit has selected his own man in the job.

But there’s the rub.

Various parties in the police force and elsewhere are blocking Abhisit’s move, part of a power play to bring another man — also Thaksin-linked — to power as the new chief. We’re currently at a deadlock: The naming of a new chief has been postponed indefinitely.

Here’s an AFP story about the current state of affairs. And here’s an article from the Bangkok Post with more details.

For a more in-depth look at the issue, I suggest reading political analyst Thitinan Pongsudhirak’s Sept. 9 Bangkok Post opinion piece, “Public played for fools in police power plays.” And Bangkok Pundit has some recentl analysis here.

Why is this saga important? And what does it mean for Thailand’s political future?

The wrangling is important because it reflects the government’s general disunity and PM Abhisit’s inability to impose his will on Thailand’s own national police force.

In addition, the in-fighting comes at a time of nervousness about a pro-Thaksin red shirt rally scheduled for Sat., Sept. 19 — the third anniversary of the coup that toppled Thaksin.

In order to curb potential unrest, the government has imposed an Internal Security Act that allows the military — in addition to the national police — to patrol the Bangkok district where the demonstration will take place. Red shirt leaders say they expect 20,000-30,000 protesters to take part. Here’s an AFP story with more info.

Abhisit’s perceived weakness, and worries about violent protests or a military crackdown, has led to rumors that a military coup could take place. PM Abhisit is due to leave on Sunday, Sept. 20 — the day after the planned rally — to attend the UN general assembly and G20 meeting in the New York. Thaksin was overthrown in 2006 while he was in New York for a UN meeting. But in this story from the Bangkok Post, Abhisit says he thinks “there’s no reason for a coup.”

This Reuters analysis piece provides some perspective: “Rumours are swirling about a military power grab, but in a country that has undergone 18 actual or attempted coups in 77 years of on-off democracy, this is nothing new.”

Stay tuned…

UPDATE (Sept. 17) — The Bangkok Post has a new opinion piece on the affair (“New twist in police drama”) that concludes with this interesting line: “Thai-style poltics is not only unique but also always ”simply amazing”.”


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