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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 13:07 GMT
Regional press wary at Thaksin rout
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra listens to a question during a press conference in Bangkok
Man with a mission

The overwhelming victory of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Sunday's general election came as no surprise to the press in South East Asia.

However, commentators in Indonesia and Malaysia warn Bangkok that it needs to address the causes of the unrest in the southern Muslim region if stability is to be maintained.

Indonesia's Suara Merdeka describes the conflict in southern Thailand as "the main task" facing Thaksin's government during its second term in office.

A new approach is needed"
Malaysia's Utusan Malaysia

"It is appropriate that the prosperity which the Thai people are now enjoying should be shared with those in the south."

However, the paper argues, the margin of Thaksin's victory "shows that the Thai people love Thaksin", giving the lie to accusations that he has become a dictator.

The Malaysian paper Utusan Malaysia also believes the government should give priority to "the mission of security and recovery in southern Thailand", where it says a "new approach is needed".

However a commentator in the same paper accuses Thaksin and his security forces of "behaving in an absolutely wild manner" in southern Thailand, warning that "the problem in the restive areas will never be resolved" if he doesn't change his ways.

Kuala Lumpur's Berita Harian believes the margin of victory will give him the leeway to tackle the problems of the south, pointing to the fact that southerners who did vote favoured the opposition.

His campaigns had a major impact on the majority of the Thai people, who are farmers
Jakarta's Kompas

"Thaksin is expected to keep his promises to advance the whole of the south," it says, adding that the "wisdom of his government" in tackling the aftermath of the tsunami contributed to his victory.

Jakarta's Kompas suggests the basis of Thaksin's victory was "his high popularity amongst villagers".

"His campaigns, with their emphasis on free health services and agricultural development, had a major impact on the majority of the Thai people, who are farmers."

In China, the People's Daily comments that "although other political parties did their utmost, they could not get rid of the status of being 'green leaves complementing the red blossom'. Thaksin's easy win was not at all surprising".

The South China Morning Post calls on Thaksin to take care to ensure that opposition MPs are given a say in shaping legislation.

"Without such care, Thailand will be in danger of returning to the days when authoritarian rule trampled under foot the basic rights and freedoms of Thais."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.




SEE ALSO:
Profile: Thaksin Shinawatra
04 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Thailand
08 Jan 05 |  Country profiles
The rise and rise of Thaksin
07 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Thailand's PM claims poll victory
06 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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