INTRODUCTION: Foreign diplomats report that the government of Thai Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda has returned to the state of weakness and internal bickering that prompted last month's (April) coup attempt.
GV ZOOM INTO SV Buddhist monks along riverfront.
CU Monks under umbrella shading, and monk cleaning teeth. (3 SHOTS)
GV ZOOM INTO SV Monks preaching.
GV democracy monument; CU carving. (3 SHOTS)
SV Flags outside university; students arriving. (3 SHOTS)
GV Students sitting reading before classes. (2 SHOTS)
CU & GV Military police watching. (2 SHOTS)
SV Military police walking along pavement.
GV INT Joint Houses of Parliament in session.
SV General Prem Tinsulanonda seated.
GV Members of Parliament.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Foreign diplomats report that the government of Thai Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda has returned to the state of weakness and internal bickering that prompted last month's (April) coup attempt. Political parties in the elected Lower House of Thailand's parliament say the premier's three-party coalition no longer has a political base large enough to command a majority in the chamber. As a result, General Prem has been under strong pressure in recent days to make major government changes.
SYNOPSIS: A powerful force in Thailand is the Buddhist religion which claims 90 per cent of the population as followers. It is a factor the politicians cannot ignore. Buddhism encourages mercy and kindness -and influence shown by the fact the government has shown clemency for most of those involved in the coup attempt.
Some Thai politicians have become monks, thereby receiving forgiveness for all sins. Several chose to do so when charged with corruption.
Bangkok's democracy monument records the fact Thailand has never been colonised. The country's very name means "free Land" - but the course of democracy has largely been governed by the military forces. The number of tanks in the streets, rather than the number of votes in the ballot box, has tended to decide who rules.
In 1976 Thai students attempted to change the country's political direction. Armed leftwing students took control of the Thamasart University campus and the violence that followed was some of the worst ever seen in Thailand. But now the campus is once more a quiet place of learning.
It is the rising rate of street crime that currently worries the government most. Soldiers have been brought in to reinforce the police to deal with violence in Bangkok and the south. Murders, bomb explosions and other crimes increased dramatically in the week of April's army putsch. But already the presence of military police is reducing criminal attacks.
General Prem's latest battle is with the politicians. Observers believe he will be forced to dissolve the present parliament in order to gain a more co-operative house of representatives.
General Prem's own position is said to be strong for he continues to enjoy the support of the military and the Thai Royal Family.