News / Asia

Pressure Builds in Thailand over Proposed Amnesty Bill

FILE - An anti-government protester wearing a mask painted in the colors of the Thai national flag looks on as riot police officers stand guard outside the parliament in Bangkok, Aug. 7, 2013.
FILE - An anti-government protester wearing a mask painted in the colors of the Thai national flag looks on as riot police officers stand guard outside the parliament in Bangkok, Aug. 7, 2013.
Ron Corben
Regular street protests have returned to downtown Bangkok as thousands rallied against a controversial blanket amnesty bill for crimes connected to years of political turmoil. The measure could also clear the way for the return of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been living in self imposed exile since 2008. However, even some former Thaksin supporters say the bill goes too far.
 
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra tried to defuse tensions on Tuesday by pledging her government would follow whatever decision the Thai Senate makes on the bill after it passed the House of Representatives late Friday night. However, she also expressed support for the measure, saying that it will help fulfill her party's goal of bringing political reconciliation to Thailand.
 
Opponents say the bill goes too far by granting amnesty for too many crimes, especially corruption-related offenses by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother.
 
Protests led by the opposition Democrat Party have been joined by business groups, universities and civil organizations in opposing the measure.
 
Jurin Laksanavisit, a member of the Democrat Party's parliamentary wing, welcomed the growing numbers turning out at rallies.
 
"We try hard, we are trying hard. So many people here and we hope to do our duty best," said Jurin.
 
The bill's initial version had bipartisan parliamentary support and was aimed at pardoning low key protestors and others associated with protests and acts of violence dating back from 2004 until August 2013.
 
However, the later draft that was passed by the lower house of parliament on Friday includes amnesty for protest organizers and government leaders, such as Thaksin.
 
For many family members of victims killed in the violence, the bill means they will never get justice for the death of loved ones.
 
That has drawn opposition from members of the pro-Thaksin Red Shirt movement, who have called for greater accountability in the deaths of protestors in 2010.
 
One protestor, Khun Boon, says his concern is that the legislation will undermine the rule of law in Thailand.
 
"We want to show to the government that we don't want this amnesty bill. The process of this bill is not quite correct. We are concerned about the rule of law. The rule of law will be destroyed completely if this bill is finally passed," said Boon.
 
Other protesters are motivated by the push to prevent former prime minister Thaksin from evading justice for corruption linked to his time in office and returning to Thailand.
 
Protester Goy Putachartyrajakul pointed out that Thaksin appears to be the main beneficiary of the amnesty.
 
"I have to decide to show up [and protest] because this situation is more than just shooting or corruption, its Thaksin Shinawatra - he doesn't deserve to come back home there is not home for him [here] anymore," said Goy.
 
The Yingluck government has been credited with overseeing a period of political stability since coming to office in 2011, but Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, feels the amnesty bill and the strong opposition it has provoked in recent days are a challenge for her administration.
 
"The amnesty gambit has undermined Thaksin and destabilized the Yingluck government. It makes Thaksin more distant to return to Thailand than ever. It will be more difficult for him now despite the legality of the amnesty, even if it passes, even if it becomes law. In practice, he would have a very difficult time in Thailand functionally because he would have many enemies," said Thitinan.
 
However, Thitinan believes Thaksin and his political allies may still hold the political upper hand as he remains popular in rural areas. Some suspect his party could call for early polls in 2014 and strengthen its standing in parliament.
 
The amnesty bill heads to the Upper House of the Senate next week, where its fate remains unclear. The Democrat Party has said that if the Senate accepts the bill, it will challenge the amnesty's legality in the Constitutional Court.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jo from: Bangkok
November 06, 2013 11:39 PM
This amnesty bill has been planned and conspired for years obviously to benefit some politicians in Thailand who were convicted and/or charged on various big corruption cases and crimes.
If they can get this bill going, those politicians will be free from any convictions and charges and some will even get the money back.

Don't know if any government of any country ever dare to propose amnesty bill like this to hurt their own country and people.

The content of this bill is against the principle of any religious in this world.
In the future, how do we teach our children to know about good and bad things ?

by: 1
November 06, 2013 9:34 PM
Someone want to make the country become a place where those who violate the law in serious crime don't have to receive any punishment. And sane people can't accept that.

by: surasid sonsomsook from: Bangkok
November 06, 2013 8:24 AM
It seems terribly unfair that our beloved country became disunited because of personal vendetta/ conviction between two major opposing political parties in Thailand. However,I feel certain that the Yingluck's two years have proved positive results so far even though her recent Amnesty Bill has provoked a challenge to her administration. Democrat Party strategy of continued blaming Thaksin for all his past bad deeds have some how twisted and interfere with Yingluck's good intention of trying to reunited the people of Thailand together again.

As we all know as long as the ill feelings are still in the air with no sides trying to take one step back and pardon or try to forgive one another.
Time is running out and certainly passing on and before we know it we could end up in the bottom place standing in SE.Asia.
It is time that we should all act as matured people before our children are getting all the wrong ideas and actually believed in all the present political play acting...


by: T from: Ny
November 05, 2013 10:50 PM
It's not thousand people, it' s millions that come out. Do your homework and reflect the real picture bext time please.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs