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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora