Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series examining the record of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Part I reviewed her domestic policy. Part II examines her foreign policy.
The landslide victory of Yingluck Shinatwatra and her Pheu Thai Party (PTP) in Thailand’s 2011 elections was an impressive achievement for both Yingluck and the PTP machine. However, few observers expected any tangible change in the direction of Thailand’s foreign policy to result. Thailand’s diplomacy is well-known for its flexibility, which has been compared to a “bamboo bending with the wind.” However, recent regional developments may require more diplomatic dexterity to maintain the balance and promote Thailand’s interests.
Indeed, Yingluck’s appointment of the inexperienced Surapong Tovichakchaikul as foreign minister was criticized as an indication that her administration did not consider foreign policy a high priority. Her positions, meanwhile, seemed to mirror those of her brother, exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, indicating a certain amount of continuity generally lacking in Thai foreign policy. Since then, the Yingluck government’s performance in foreign affairs has proved to be a mixed bag of success and failure.