News / Asia

Bangkok Moves Back to Business as Usual

Farmers take part in a rally demanding the Yingluck administration resolve delays in payment, at the office of the auditor general in Bangkok, March 3, 2014.
Farmers take part in a rally demanding the Yingluck administration resolve delays in payment, at the office of the auditor general in Bangkok, March 3, 2014.
Ron Corben
— Key intersections in the Thai capital, Bangkok, shut down by anti-government protests since mid-January, reopened to traffic Monday as demonstrations consolidated at a single site. An easing of tensions was welcomed by small business and property owners affected by the protests and fears of violence.

The anti-government campaign led by former lawmaker Suthep Thaugsuban and the People's Democratic Reform Council included occupations of ministries and state agencies and led Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to declare a state of emergency.

The protest stages in the city, built for speakers and entertainment, forced vehicles to reroute, often resulting in traffic heavy congestion. All activities have now been consolidated in a central park.

Akanat Promphan, a PDRC spokesman, said the consolidation is intended to ease concerns over attacks on the rally sites by unknown gunmen. 

"This move was decided based purely to reduce the effect on Bangkok people. We're not doing any more by staying on the streets, by staying on junctures which is creating problems for Bangkok people," Promphan stated. "With the violence escalating with the M79 grenade being shot at protesters it's sensible to one single venue."

The attacks on two protest sites - at Rayong and Bangkok - killed four small children and had a deep impact on the community. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a statement, called the children's deaths "particularly horrifying".

More than 20 people have died and at least 700 have been injured since the protests first began in November.

The end of the street-blocking protests has enabled nearby malls to again be active with lunchtime shoppers. Small business owners are still weighing the cost of the shutdown.

Print shop manager Khun Oud said it may take several months before his business fully recovers.

"My income lose ...80 percent of income in the month. Maybe to recover it will take more time like two to three months," he said. "The people stayed away because my custumer - 50 percent is not Thai or Thai business so when we have the protest everyone cannot come to do anything in this area."

Senior Thai Finance Ministry officials warned Monday the economy may slow to 2 percent growth in 2014 due to the delay in government spending and slower export growth caused by the poor political climate.

But Thai stocks were reported higher Monday, adding some grounds for optimism on the speed of the recovery.

Thailand's political uncertainties remain acute.  There is still no sitting parliament a month after inconclusive national elections, boycotted by the opposition Democrat Party.  However, there is some thought that the consolidation of the protest sites may make talks between the government and the opposition more likely in the near future.

Yingluck is also facing the threat of Senate impeachment over her role in overseeing a rice price support scheme analysts say was engulfed by corruption.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid