News / Asia

Bangkok Braces for Renewed Conflict

An anti-government protester waves a national flag in front of riot police officers and soldiers guarding the entrance of the National Broadcast Services of Thailand (NBT) television station in Bangkok, May 9, 2014.
An anti-government protester waves a national flag in front of riot police officers and soldiers guarding the entrance of the National Broadcast Services of Thailand (NBT) television station in Bangkok, May 9, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thailand’s anti-government protesters celebrated the court-ordered removal of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra this week and returned to the capital Friday in a campaign to force the entire government to resign.

In downtown Bangkok, where many are bracing for violence as pro-government supporters prepare to rally on Saturday, anti-government protesters blocked several key roads as they celebrated Yingluck's departure.

Earlier in the day, Thai riot police used tear gas to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters who took to the streets following Wednesday's Thai Constitutional Court ruling to remove Yingluck and nine of her cabinet members from power. Thailand's Anti-Corruption Commission added to Yingluck's woes on Thursday, ruling that there is enough evidence to indict Yingluck in a controversial rice subsidy program that her critics say was riddled with corruption and wasted billions of dollars.
 
  • Anti-government protesters react as their leader arrives at Thailand's parliament building during the senate session in Bangkok, May 12, 2014.
  • Newly elected Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai (right) and anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban greet each other in parliament, Bangkok. May 12, 2014.
  • Emboldened by the removal of Thailand's prime minister, anti-government protesters withdrew from Bangkok's main park and marched to the vacated prime minister's office compound seen here, where protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has pledged to set up office, Bangkok, May 12, 2014.
  • Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, center, talks on his mobile phone during a rally outside the parliament building, in Bangkok, May 12, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester waves a national flag in front of riot police officers and soldiers guarding the entrance of the National Broadcast Services of Thailand (NBT) television station, in Bangkok, May 9, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters step on a poster of ousted Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra outside the National Broadcast Services of Thailand (NBT) television station, in Bangkok, May 9, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters watch as an injured man is taken away from a clash site at a police compound, in the north of Bangkok, May 9, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters are singing as they ride on a truck during a rally. A court ousted Thailand's prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for abuse of power, handing the anti-government demonstrators a victory for their efforts the past six months, in Bangkok, May 8, 2014.
  • Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban greets supporters during a rally, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 8, 2014.
  • Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra greets her supporters as she leaves the Permanent Secretary of Defence office in Bangkok, May 7, 2014.
  • Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, 66, was quickly appointed the new acting leader after Prime Minsiter Yiungluck Shinawatra was ordered to step down by a May 7, 2014 court ruling, in Bangkok.

The case will now proceed to the Senate, where Yingluck will face an impeachment vote that could see her receive a five-year ban from politics. She has been replaced as caretaker prime minister by Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan, who is a close ally of Yingluck and her influential brother, ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The rulings send Thailand deeper into a prolonged political deadlock that pits the mostly rural and poor supporters of Thaksin and Yingluck against the mostly middle class opposition, many of whom are not satisfied with Yingluck's departure alone, since much of her government remains in place. They called for a "final offensive" in the form of Friday's mass protest.

Speaking to supporters in a city park on Friday, opposition protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban urged supporters to rally outside parliament, the prime minister's offices and five television stations, to prevent them from being used by the government.

Lhienthong Thisopha, a 72-year-old retired army officer, says he supports the rallies to end the influence of ex-Prime Minister Thaksin, a billionaire and divisive figure in Thai politics whose parties have won every national election since 2001.

"Even though Ms. Yingluck has been forced from office, the remainder of the government remains, much like a tree," Lhienthong said.

Protesters are still pressing to replace the government with an unelected council that would put in place far-reaching political reforms before the next election, now scheduled for July.

Samarn Lertwongrath, a senior member of the governing Pheu Thai Party member, says even if protesters delay the July vote, elections are likely before the end of the year because of the toll the standoff is taking on the economy.

"I myself believe that maybe they will prolong the election," Samarn said. "But anyhow, there has to be an election within a year — they have no choice because all the businessmen have to push everything to solve the problem and [anti-government protest leader] Suthep Thaugsuban must be responsible for the bad situation in the economy."

Thailand’s economy has faltered since the protests began late last year. The economy grew about 2.9 percent in 2013, but could be worse this year with falling tourist arrivals, an expensive and controversial rice purchasing plan, and reluctance from foreign investors to expand at a time of uncertainty.

According to Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the unfolding political circumstances complicate any prevailing economic projections.

"Maybe this year the Thai economy will grow about zero to 2 percent, depending on the political situation," Thanavath said. "Maybe if Red Shirt and Yellow shirt - if we have something [that] gets into a violent situation - it's not good for the Thai economy, for Thai people and businessmen. [It] will slow down their activity and they don't want to invest anything. So it's quite hard to predict."

Thai military and police are reported to be stepping up efforts to prevent outbreaks of violence as pro-government supporters threaten to descend on Bangkok in coming days.

Thai police say a grenade was thrown early Thursday at the home of one of the judges of the country's Constitutional Court.
 
Police say no one was injured in the early morning attack, though the grenade did cause minor damage to a roof and a vehicle at the judge's Bangkok home. A bank and hospital were also damaged by grenades overnight.
 
Thailand's power struggle over the past six months has already claimed the lives of more than 20 people and left dozens injured.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Petroinous from: Bangkok
May 09, 2014 10:39 AM
These Emerging Asian countries Thailand and India etc are all headed towards anarchy, and perhaps, blood shed in their inexorable quest to seize political power, hook or crook, and loot the country. Only after they have perpetrated enough mayhem and forced the ordinary citizen to go through hell will these self-serving politicians will realize their folly, if they ever will. Nations like Egypt and Libya which clamored for democracy have shown the world what kind of democracy they were talking about.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid