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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.