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The opposition Democrat Party says it wants the amnesty bill withdrawn before it will negotiate with Prime Minister Yingluck.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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid