News / Asia

    Thai Government Faces Challenges as Country Prepares for Polls

    Thai supporters stand beside an electoral campaign poster of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra (top) as they cheer on anti-government protesters marching along the streets in downtown Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
    Thai supporters stand beside an electoral campaign poster of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra (top) as they cheer on anti-government protesters marching along the streets in downtown Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
    Ron Corben
    Thailand's ruling party is virtually assured of a victory in Sunday's elections, but that alone is not likely to end the country's political crisis. Legal challenges after the vote also pose a threat to the governing party, despite popular support.
     
    Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has so far remained defiant in the face of weeks of street protests calling for her and her government to resign.   
     
    With a boycott by the main opposition Democrat Party, the ruling Pheu Thai Party looks set to win the vast majority of seats in Sunday's general elections.  But legal analysts say the government faces several challenges in the weeks ahead, from the elections as well as court petitions and investigations into corruption.
     
    Several constituencies - mostly in the southern provinces - failed to register candidates, while in Bangkok pre-voting was disrupted by anti-government protesters.
     
    Dej-Udom Krairit, president of the Lawyers Council of Thailand, believes the threats of the election being annulled are real. "Judging from the current situation, it's going to be very difficult to carry on the election. There's no hope for success -- and they cannot prolong. The peaceful move against the government is doing quite well actually, and the government, now to see how long they are going to stand for it," Krarit stated.     
     
    • An anti-government protester wears a mask made of "No Vote" stickers as he marches with others through Bangkok, Jan. 31, 2014.
    • Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban greets the crowd as he leads anti-government protesters marching through Bangkok, Jan. 31, 2014.
    • Police try to clear a main street for an anti-government protest march in Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
    • Anti-government protesters with national flags gather for a rally in Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
    • Anti-government protesters hold placards during a march through central Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
    • An anti-government protester holds a national flag in front of a portrait of Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, during a rally, Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014.
    • Anti-government protesters chain the gate of an office for the Land Transportation Department in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
    • Riot police stand guard inside the compound of the Thai Royal Police Club in Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
    • An anti-government protester plays a guitar near a barricade outside the compound of the Thai Royal Police Club in Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
    • A girl reacts at an anti-government rally in central Bangkok, Jan. 28, 2014.

    Pro-government activists and other groups favoring the poll are urging voters to go cast ballots Sunday. But there are fears of violence, especially in Bangkok after ugly incidents last Sunday when voters clashed with anti-government protesters seeking to prevent the poll going ahead.
     
    Somphob Manarangsan, an economics professor, said independent bodies such as the courts and anti-corruption commission may also leave the government more vulnerable.
     
    "The work of independent organizations like the corruption commission and also the constitution court; there may be more judgements from those organizations making the government more paralyzed, then automatically you may have some mechanism to be used to make some breakthrough of the deadlock situation we have now," said Manarangsan.
     
    A forced resignation of Yingluck's administration under the constitution would lead to appointment of an interim government - a key demand of the anti-government protest movement.
     
    The government came under the spotlight with National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) allegations of corruption in the government's $19 billion rice price support scheme. The prime minister was chairperson of the national rice policy committee.        
     
    NACC commissioner and spokesman, Vicha Mahakhun, said the commission has taken on several dozen cases of government corruption - more than under the previous administration led by Abhisit Vejjajiva.
     
    "About this government we have 45 complaints of corruption against this government that we have in the process of inquiry about 12 cases and 22 cases are in the process of fact finding and the NACC is also currently investigating about the cases of the previous Abhisit government - over a dozen cases involved with the corruption," stated Mahakhun.
     
    International corruption watchdog Transparency International in 2013 ranked Thailand at 102 out of 177 countries in its corruption perception index, even lower than an already low ranking of 80 when Yingluck's government came to power in 2011.

    Former Thai Central Bank deputy governor Bandid Nijathaworn. (R. Corben/VOA)Former Thai Central Bank deputy governor Bandid Nijathaworn. (R. Corben/VOA)
    x
    Former Thai Central Bank deputy governor Bandid Nijathaworn. (R. Corben/VOA)
    Former Thai Central Bank deputy governor Bandid Nijathaworn. (R. Corben/VOA)
    ​Bandid Nijathaworn, president of the Thai Institute of Directors and former deputy central bank governor, said the deteriorating corruption situation needs to be addressed.

    "The rice pledging and also the actions that are being taken by the NACC is clearly an example of the needs to better systems of governance, especially the check and balance on the quality of government policies that would have long term implications for the financial position of the country - huge losses and also expose the project or the scheme to huge corruption risk," explained Nijathaworn.

    In December the constitutional court accepted an opposition petition concerning the legality of a $70 billion government infrastructure spending program. Critics claim the legislation avoids adequate parliamentary oversight. The ruling party also faces legal challenges over parliamentary moves to amend the constitution.
     
    A verdict against the government may yet force the resignation of the prime minister, leaving Thailand trying to overcome even more uncertainties over the way forward from its political crisis.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora