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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora