News / Asia

Thai Opposition Open to Talks with PM

FILE - Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra sits in a car as she leaves the Thai Air Force headquarters after a cabinet meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
FILE - Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra sits in a car as she leaves the Thai Air Force headquarters after a cabinet meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
VOA News
Thai opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban has signaled he is open to talks with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, after weeks of rejecting any form of dialogue to end a prolonged political crisis.

The flamboyant opposition leader, who has led months of anti-government protests, on Thursday challenged Yingluck to a live televised debate, as long as they are the only two participants and the debate is televised nationwide.

Yingluck said while she is open to negotiations, Suthep must first end the protests. She also said any talks must fit within the framework of the constitution. She spoke from northern Thailand, where she is spending several days with her support base.

On Thursday, Thailand's National Anti-Corruption Commission heard negligence charges against the embattled prime minister. She did not attend the hearing, but instead sent a legal representative.

Yingluck is charged with ignoring corruption within a government rice subsidy program that has cost the government billions of dollars.

Outside the commission, one of her lawyers, Norawit Laolang, defended the rice-buying program.

"Prime Minister [Yingluck] is willing to cooperate with the National Anti-Corruption Commission. She is willing to give information and evidences to the NACC because the PM is confident in her honesty. The rice-pledging scheme has benefited the farmers," said Norawit.

Hundreds of her supporters gathered outside the agency, threatening to block commissioners from entering and forcing the hearing to be held elsewhere.

If found guilty, the prime minister could face an impeachment vote, a five-year ban from politics, or even criminal charges.

Supporters of Yingluck dismiss the charges as an attempted "judicial coup" by the opposition, which has staged months of protests.

Since November, at least 22 people have died, mostly during attacks on the anti-government protesters, known as Yellow Shirts.

Some fear an escalation of violence if government supporters, known as Red Shirts, also protest in large numbers, as they have promised.

Also unclear is the role of Thailand's military, which overthrew Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in 2006.

Thaksin still has immense influence in Thailand, but the billionaire businessman is now living in exile after being accused of corruption.

Opposition protesters say Thaksin is secretly controlling her sister's government, which they say is hopelessly corrupt.

Much of the attention has been focused on the government rice subsidy program, which helped sweep the Pheu Thai party to power in 2011.

Under the program, the government purchased rice from Thai farmers for above market prices. The government is now stuck with large stockpiles of rice it has been unable to sell.

The opposition says it is wasteful and reflective of the populist policies that have given Thaksin a stranglehold on Thailand politics. They are calling for Yingluck to step aside and be replace by an unelected people's council that would implement political reforms.

The government tried to resolve the standoff with early elections in February, but the opposition boycotted the vote and disrupted it in several areas, preventing a definitive result.

The U.S. State Department on Wednesday said it was concerned with Thailand's unrest, saying violence is not an acceptable way of resolving political differences and calling for all attackers to be brought to justice.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid