News / Asia

Thai Government, Opposition at Odds Over Amnesty Bill

Anti-government protesters are seen gathered outside Bangkok's Lumpini Park August 4, 2013.
Anti-government protesters are seen gathered outside Bangkok's Lumpini Park August 4, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ron Corben
— Thailand is facing new political tensions as the government is preparing to submit an amnesty bill to parliament, along with key finance and infrastructure spending measures. Both anti-government and pro-government groups are preparing for political battle, but some analysts say there could be compromise on the amnesty measure.  
 
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra faces a new test of political strength during the current parliamentary session, as her government of two years moves to pass key legislation, including an amnesty bill covering those charged from protests dating back seven years. 
 
Renewed anti-government rallies were launched Sunday despite the government's imposition of the Internal Security Act over three districts of Bangkok.
 
No pardon

The demonstrators oppose the amnesty bill, saying the legislation is part of a package of measures that would include a pardon for former leader, Thaksin Shinawatra - the prime minister's older brother, who remains in exile avoiding a two-year jail sentence for corruption.  A pardon would allow him to return to Thailand and avoid further charges.
 
Thailand has been embroiled in political turbulence since 2005 when Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister and anti-government protestors accused the government of corruption and nepotism.  Thaksin was overthrown in a coup in 2006.  He fled Thailand in 2008 but analysts say he remains influential with the current government. 
 
Pro-Thaksin protestors under the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) staged protests in 2009 and 2010 against the establishment-backed government of Abhisit Vejjajiva.  Abhisit government efforts to end the protests peacefully failed, leading to crackdowns in April and May 2010 that left 90 people dead and hundreds injured.
 
UDD leader Thida Tavornseth says the amnesty bill covers protestors incarcerated but not UDD leaders.
 
"Almost all of the people, maybe many hundred - about 500 to 800 - and they already were in jail about two to three years. No, not the leaders and not Khun Thaksin Shinawatra, just only the people,” says Thida Tavornseth.
 
The opposition Democrat Party says it wants the amnesty bill withdrawn before it will negotiate with Prime Minister Yingluck.
 
Moves to pass legislation in 2012 governing constitutional reforms were delayed by the Thai Supreme Court.
 
Headed for ‘showdown’

Political scientist Thitinan Pongsudhirak says Thailand once again appears headed for a political "showdown."
 
"The forces in the opposition and the anti-Thaksin coalition and the pro-Thaksin supporters - they are now at loggerheads again.  We saw last year that the government and (governing) Pheu Thai Party tried to push through a series of constitutional reforms.  But they were thwarted, prevented by the constitutional court and the government backed down.  This year they are up at it again, up against the anti-Thaksin coalition again," says Thitinan Pongsudhirak.
 
But Kraisak Choonhavan, a former senator and member of the opposition Democrat Party, says there is bipartisan support for the amnesty bill.
 
"If it's concerning people who were part of the mob or the demonstrators who have been not fairly treated during the crackdown that (bill) could sail through.  It really depends on that.  If it's fairly debated and there is mutual agreement, I should think the Democrat Party will not oppose it to the hilt," says Kraisak Choonhavan.
 
During the current parliamentary session the Yingluck government is also hoping to pass a $80 billion general budget, and supplementary spending of more than $100 billion designated for infrastructure projects.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid