News / Asia

Thai Protesters Press on With Rallies Amid Fears of Violence

Thai Protesters Press on With Rallies Amid Fears of Violencei
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November 28, 2013 7:20 AM
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has easily survived a no-confidence vote in parliament, where her party controls the majority of seats.

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Ron Corben
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has easily survived a no-confidence vote in parliament, where her party controls the majority of seats.
 
Lawmakers in Bangkok voted 297 to 134 Thursday against a measure that would have unseated her because of allegations of corruption.

Widespread political protests in Thailand continued on Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators tried to shut down government ministries and force Yingluck from office. 

On the fourth day of protests, demonstrators continued to mass around several ministries and government provincial halls. In acts of civil disobedience, electricity was cut to some offices.

The protests remained largely peaceful. Prime Minister Yingluck held urgent talks with senior government ministry officials on how departments would continue to maintain normal work despite the disruptions.

Khun Samana, a Bangkok-based consultant and opposition supporter, said protesters are critical of the government's performance and its support for amnesty laws that favored close members of Yingluck's administration.

"People are demonstrating that they have the rights and the way the government has been managing our country is for their own self interest - it's not actually for the people, and this is the first time I have seen Thai people especially in Bangkok come out and voice their opinion and try to tell the government what they are doing is not right," said Samana.

  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Dec. 4, 2013, as they camp outside the palace where he is staying in Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan province, Thailand, a day before his birthday.
  • Anti-government protesters shout as they break down the barriers at the Thai Police Headquarters in Bangkok, Dec. 4, 2013. 
  • An anti-government protester sweeps the street around the Democracy Monument, Bangkok, Dec. 4, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters sweep the street around the Democracy Monument after weeks of protesting and days of clashes with police in Bangkok's city center, Dec. 4, 2013.
  • An anti-government protester uses a wire cutter in an attempt to break down the barriers at the Thai Police Headquarters, Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 4, 2013. 
  • Anti-government protesters gesture towards riot police outside the headquarters of the ruling Puea Thai Party of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in Bangkok, Nov. 29, 2013.
  • An anti-government protester gestures towards riot police outside the headquarters of the ruling Puea Thai Party of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in Bangkok, Nov. 29, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters shout slogans outside the headquarters of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's Puea Thai Party in Bangkok, Nov. 29, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters march to the government complex in Bangkok, Nov. 27, 2013.
  • Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister leading the protest, waves to his supporters during an anti-government march in Bangkok, Nov. 27, 2013.
  • Supporters cheer anti-government protesters marching in Bangkok, Nov. 27, 2013.
  • A Buddhist monk blows a whistle during a rally outside Interior Ministry in Bangkok, Nov. 26, 2013.
  • Riot police stand guard behind barricades during an anti-government rally in Bangkok, Nov. 26, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters march toward Thailand's Finance Ministry in Bangkok, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • An anti-government protester fights with police at a barricade near Government House in Bangkok, Nov. 25, 2013.

Some protest leaders are doing more than criticizing the government. Protest leader and former opposition member of parliament Suthep Thaugsuban has proposed replacing the current elected government with a non-elected council. He said the body would oversee political reforms and fair elections.

Supporters said such moves are necessary to end the influence of Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire businessman and brother of the prime minister. Thaksin fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid a two year jail term for corruption, but critics said he remained a key decision maker in the government. Yingluck has denied the charge.

The protest movement's spokesman, Akanat Promphan, said the goal was to promote political reform.

"Our goal is to root out the Thaksin regime and to achieve reform. We insist this is a non-violent movement and we don't want any loss of life and we don't want to be prolonged. So Khun Suthep stated on the 24th that he wanted  everything to end in the next couple of days. So hopefully by the end of the month," he said.

Prime Minister Yingluck has urged protesters to remain peaceful and said she has sought out dialogue as a way of ending the conflict. Akanat denied that the movement had been approached by the government.

Thaksin, whose party won elections in 2001 and 2005 buoyed by populist policies to the rural poor, working and middle class, was ousted in a coup in 2006 amid critics claims of abuse of power, human rights and corruption. But over several elections since, pro-Thaksin parties have been returned to power, including Yingluck's Pheu Thai Party in 2011.

The recent demonstrations have raised fears that Thailand's tumultuous politics have returned, as well as the possibility for more bloodshed.

The numbers of protesters in the streets has fallen since Sunday, when more than 100,000 massed in Bangkok. Chris Baker, an author and analyst on Thai politics, said the protests may be losing direction. But he said that could raise the chances for violence as extremists try to reinvigorate their movement with clashes.

"I still think that's really extremely quite likely to happen. Also because you can see some of the nastier elements in this could very much pull at this tactic particularly right at the end of this period. Then we're back in the usual no-man's land where we don't really know what happens," he said.

Leaders of pro-government Red Shirt supporters, meeting at a stadium on the outskirts of Bangkok, said the situation was "near the breaking point" but they would only move out to the streets if the military intervenes and stages a coup.

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Comments
     
by: khonthai
November 29, 2013 12:10 AM
In regard to the occurring political situation in Thailand, we, the people who strongly oppose the entire Thaksin-backed regime, want to see his influence completely washed out from our beloved country. We have lost trust in the Thai government, a puppet being controlled by fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of the current PM, Yingluck Shinawatra. With Thaksin’s ghost-like presence in Thailand, this has shown that we will never achieve our goal if his root has not been eradicated. This has been the largest demonstration in Thailand’s history of almost a thousand year, two-times larger than in 1973 uprising and twenty-times than in 2010, millions of people have gathered at the democratic heart of Bangkok in Rajdamnoen and elsewhere across the country, as they can no longer accept the wide spread Thaksin-devil-regime present at all level. We can no longer stand the government claiming its victory to election to the rights of the majoritarianism, especially in the Parliament, where they have been trying to make laws beneficial to the Shinawatra family and those involved in the circle. This is a dictatorship democracy against the provision of public will. We can no longer stand to see the media still being under its control, putting the government in a good light. Finally, we cannot stand to watch the country being plagued by Yingluck’s administration through its disastrous policies and the huge scale of corruption in Thai history. We, the people, would like to see the Shinawatra family and cronies be dismissed from Thai politics. The nationwide uprising in Bangkok and rural provinces, as well as the occupation of government premises and ministries across the country, are our intention to paralyse Yingluck Shinawatra’s government. We have always upheld our methods through peaceful means. We strongly oppose any movements of violence and we do not desire a military intervention. We hope our friends all around the world will give us your support and bless us all. From the hearts of Thai people.


by: Sant smith from: USA
November 28, 2013 7:39 PM
Majority does not mean anything, when votes are bought and rigged. Democracy is just a name in Thailand and Thaksin used it well to rob the poor, loot the country and plunder the nation.


by: Kamogelo from: South Africa,Johannesburg
November 28, 2013 7:37 AM
it is very disappointing to see the situation at this time , I was supposed to fly to Thailand on Saturday but now with the situation at hand I don't think its safe.

In Response

by: hoan dao from: ha noi
November 28, 2013 10:17 PM
i agree with you. It seen to be not safe to make you decision at this time. I am in Viet Nam


by: hoandao from: ha noi
November 28, 2013 4:52 AM
I think that the situation in advance is not predictable. Tumultuous politics will continue in Thai for more a long time. A politic background that is not stable will affect direct on its economics especially tourism benefit. I admire at Thai tourism service but choosing my destination in Thai for tourism at this time is right, isn't it?


by: kosal from: Cambodia
November 28, 2013 2:05 AM
Thai demonstration is a mass of people. However, they do not have an issue of violence. It differs from Cambodia.


by: Miss Saigon from: USA
November 27, 2013 11:21 AM
Yingluck should not have been elected as Thailand's PM at the beginning. Regardless she is independent from her older brother, in this case she is not, she is well influenced by him. Politicians must be trustworthy, honest and serve and work hard to better its country and people.

In Response

by: Thai from: Thailand
November 29, 2013 11:48 AM
PTporn and KT, Not sure if you were living in Thailand during the last decade but its like your giving a one sided point of view. Do your homework before making a comment. Cause if you did you can find that there is always something happening in the background for each and every government that has been put in or elected. I moved here at the beginning of the Taksin era and have seen and hear it all the in the last decade. I am not taking sides but like in the USA. everyone has the "the freedom of speech" and the followers are educated enough to know what is true and what is a lie and do their research (INTERNET info is just a click away). No one is forced to protest but they are protesting via their own free will. Every protest world wide will happen if the people feel abused, also a lie or many lies cannot build that motivation for people to come out and protest. But like every place in the world. local press is always control. so any and all the new in the Thai press will be bias. So those reading/commenting shouldn’t be bias as well.

In Response

by: PTporn from: Singapore
November 28, 2013 12:32 PM
I agree with KT. The rule of law must apply. If the democrats are not pleased, they should focus their energy in winning the next election. They should ask themselves why haven't they won a single election in the last decades? When power was eventually given to them by the junta, the overt use of force against our people. How can this be justified? Let's not forget that in the dark years of financial crisis, it was Thaksin who brought us out of the gloom. Thailand's problem today would not have happened if that fateful coup in 2006 had not happened. The rule of law must be upheld!

In Response

by: KT
November 28, 2013 5:26 AM
The elitist in Thailand don't respect democracy. The people elected PM through democratic means, while Abhisit was installed by the military junta. Since the elitist cannot win an election, they spread lies about this and that to smear the Shins and cause disruption that have caused many lives. The elitist show disrespect of the law, disrespect of the people's democratic rights, and disrespect the country.

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