News / Asia

Thai PM: Govt. Preparing to Retake Protest Site

Ron Corben

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says his Government is preparing to end the seven week long anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok by applying increasing pressure on the protesters.  The government earlier, at a special cabinet meeting, had ruled out applying martial law, while providing $8 million in additional funds to police to step up operations.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says his government has signaled to protesters to end the demonstration as it says a majority of Thai society now wants to see an end to the seven weeks of anti-government protests.

But Mr Abhisit gave no indication on when security forces would attempt to reclaim the area in central Bangkok's commercial and hostel district.

In interviews with foreign journalists Sunday at an army base on the outskirts of Bangkok, Mr Abhisit said he believed a majority of Thai society wanted to see enforcement of the law. "We are sending a clear signal that we've given a lot of time for people to leave Rajaprasong.  Some of them resort to terrorist tactics and also that we are now in the process of cutting off support and seal the area off before we actively move in," he said.

The Rajaprasong area, largely shut down for the past month, is occupied by commercial and retail properties including up-scale markets and hotels. It also has a labyrinth of small shops offering low cost clothes and goods.

Barricades of sharpened bamboo poles and rubber tires border the protest area to defend the camp against security forces. United Democratic Front against Dictatorship (UDD) leaders have said they are ready to fight any moves to disperse them.

Up to 100,000 people either have lost their jobs or face bankruptcy because of the continuing protests. The government is preparing to provide special assistance to the people and shops.

Thousands of the so-called Red Shirts protesters have been calling for the government to resign and call early elections. The government has refused but offered elections in nine months.

The protestors are largely supported by working class and poor in urban and rural areas who favor ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who remains popular among lower income groups but has been accused by the urban elite of corruption and abuse of power.

Mr. Abhisit still hopes mediators may assist to avoid further bloodshed. A clash on April 10 between military and protestors at another protest site left 25 people dead and hundreds injured. "We continue to exercise restraint and patience and the first best solution is one that does not involve violence. But the public patience is running out and the government has to make sure that we can uphold the law and be accountable to what I would say is the majority of Thai society," he said.

But tensions in Bangkok remain high. Increasing public pressure on the government followed a raid by red shirt guards on a hospital located near the protest area saying they believed it was occupied by soldiers. On Friday hospital staff relocated patients to other facilities. UUD leaders later apologised for the invasion.

Analysts, such as the International Crisis Group, are warning Thailand's political system has broken down amid fears a stand-off could lead into "an undeclared civil war".

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs