News / Asia

Thai PM Calls for Reconciliation

Smoke billows across Bangkok skyline [file photo]
Smoke billows across Bangkok skyline [file photo]

Multimedia

Audio
Ron Corben

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has called for national reconciliation as the country begins counting the economic cost following an army crackdown on anti-government protests.

In a televised address, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Friday that Thailand faces major challenges in recovering from months of protests and the military crackdown that ended them.

"We recognize that as we move ahead there are huge challenges ahead of us, particularly the challenge of overcoming the divisions that have occurred in this country. Let me reassure you that the government will meet those challenges and overcome these difficulties," said Mr. Abhisit.

Protesters known as red shirts set more than 30 fires in Bangkok Wednesday as the military moved to close their camp in the city's center. Flames engulfed department stores, malls, banks and media outlets, causing more than $1 billion in damage. International ratings agencies say Thailand's credit rating is at risk unless long term political divisions are resolved.

Mr. Abhisit says he will revive a reconciliation plan that the protest leaders earlier rejected. The plan includes early elections as well as economic, social and constitutional reforms.

A key goal, he says, is to get the economy back on track.

Economists warn growth may be cut by up two percentage points this year, to about four percent.

The crackdown and subsequent rioting cost 52 lives over six days, bringing the toll to 77 deaths since the protests began in mid-March. Over 1,400 people were reported injured. Thousands of people have lost their jobs and thousands of businesses have seen sales collapse.

Satish Sehgal, a Bangkok publisher, says the violence will have a lasting economic impact.

"It's hurt the Thai economy - it's put Thailand back two to three years - tourism has been badly affected. It is sad, it's rather sad," said Sehgal.

Tourism accounts for six to seven percent of the economy and 15 percent of the workforce. Industry experts say because of the political crisis, about 13 million tourists will come this year, down from earlier forecasts of 16 million.

Nagesh Kumar, chief economist at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, says foreign investment will also suffer.

"The image of the investment outlook might be affected unless the government is able to restore confidence quickly and demonstrate everything is in order," says Kumar. "It can be contained if the government is able to overcome and restore peace and demonstrate that it is all working very well."   

The political uncertainties have led some expatriates to relocate. Andrew Durieux is the president of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok.

"A number of expats are continuing to move out over the last couple of months, and Shanghai, and Kuala Lumpur and Vietnam have probably been the biggest recipients of those skills sets," Durieux said. "So Thailand needs to something to attract those families back."

Thailand has faced four years of political uncertainty, since a military coup ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. His supporters, largely from the rural and urban poor, accuse the military and the nation's traditional elite of ignoring their concerns. Mr. Thaksin, who lives overseas, has called for talks between the protesters and the government and has sought to distance himself from the rioting.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlies her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid