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.
    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

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    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.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora