Website Holds Contest for Best Solutions to Thailand Crisis

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A non-profit foundation supporting political transparency in Thailand is offering money for the best ideas to help the country emerge from its current crisis.

In cooperation with the World Mind Network, an NGO called Friends of Thailand is offering 3200 baht prizes (about 100 dollars) to be awarded weekly to anyone who proposes the most workable solutions to the country's present political instability. The site is at practicalideasforthailandsfuture.wetpaint.com.

Last week, , demonstrations erupted in Thailand, aimed at the government led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. At least 100,000 red-shirted protestors, most supporting deposed and exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have filled the streets of Bangkok.

They have demanded that the government resign, which it has refused to do, though its representatives say they want to hold discussions with the demonstrators.

The political rhetoric in Thailand has become very heated and very much about personalities. In reviewing hundreds of blogs, social network posts, newspaper letters to the editor, Twitter feeds, and other Internet postings, fewer than 10% of comments were found to be about the actual issues and problems that face Thailand, and potential solutions for them; the rest were all personal criticisms of either Thaksin or Abhisit and their respective factions, very often delivered with hateful vitriol.

So Friends of Thailand, a group of expatriate and in-country Thai citizens, is trying to center the debate on real issues and not personal attacks. Anyone is welcome to add comments to the site.

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John Toomey
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