News / Asia

Thai Senate Votes Down Controversial Amnesty Bill

Anti-government protesters, one holds a picture of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, chant slogans during a demonstration against an amnesty bill in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov. 11, 2013.
Anti-government protesters, one holds a picture of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, chant slogans during a demonstration against an amnesty bill in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov. 11, 2013.
Ron Corben
Thailand's Senate has voted down a blanket amnesty bill seen as a move to ease political tensions that have triggered widespread street protests against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.  Protesters have called on the government to schedule new general elections.

After more than 12 hours of debate, the Thai Senate late Monday rejected the controversial blanket amnesty bill that has triggered the latest anti-government street protests.

Under Thailand’s political process, the bill could be returned to the House of Representatives for a new vote. But the government says it will not return the bill to the House.        

The two-year administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has struggled to resolve the issue and curb protests led by the opposition Democrat Party.

An amended bill rushed through the lower House in late October offered blanket amnesties to several people close to the government, including the prime minister's older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives overseas to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption.

The amnesty also would have pardoned former prime minister and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has been indicted for murder for ordering a crackdown on protesters in 2010.

The bill's initial version had bipartisan parliamentary support and was aimed at pardoning low-key protesters and others associated with acts of violence dating from 2004 until August of this year.

But critics say the amended bill would "whitewash" former leader Thaksin of corruption charges, enabling his return to Thailand. Present members of the Yingluck government also would be absolved of any charges of corruption.

As the Senate debated the bill, anti-government protesters stepped up their campaign on the streets of Bangkok, in a bid to force the government into new elections.

Khun Arporn, an office worker, said that despite promises by the government to drop the amnesty bill, the call is for the government to resign.

"Actually they [the protesters] want democracy, okay? But we need a good one - not the corrupt one," he said. "So we try to do our best.  At least we want the world to listen to us that the government is not the right government for Thailand. Sometime they do something that's not good. All the people in Thailand think like that."

Protestors like Khun Art, an architect, say there are now growing fears of violence, after pro-government Red Shirt supporters rallied Sunday vowing to defend the government.

"The Red Shirts they are coming back - so that's what is coming - violence," she said. "For us we have no weapons - we only want to show our part, because we have been silent too long. But now we are coming out to show that we can't stand the government anymore."

The Yingluck government also has faced criticism over several development programs and populist economic policies that critics say are tainted by corruption.

The latest crisis has hit the Thai stock market and has affected Thailand's key tourism industry, with as many as a dozen countries posting travel warnings to their nationals to avoid protest areas in the capital, Bangkok.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid