News / Asia

    Thai Elections End, Expose Bitter Divide

    A local resident casts his ballot for the general election at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.
    A local resident casts his ballot for the general election at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.
    Daniel Schearf
    Polls have closed in Thailand's tense national elections in which anti-government protesters forced the closure of hundreds of polling stations in the capital, Bangkok.

    Voters have braved intimidation and threats of violence to participate in nationwide elections. Protesters forced elections to be canceled in nine of Thailand's 76 provinces and four of Bangkok's 50 districts, but most polling stations were able to open.  

    Angry voters pound on the gates of one Bangkok district office demanding they be allowed to vote.

    Anti-government protesters here earlier blocked officials from delivering ballots to nearby polling stations.

    Political Developments in Thailand

    2006: Army overthrows Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
    2007: The pro-Thaksin People Power Party wins elections
    2008: Anti-Thaksin protesters, known as "Yellow Shirts", stage months of demonstrations and briefly paralyze airports. Abhisit Vejjajiva becomes prime minister.
    2010: Massive pro-Thaksin "Red Shirt" protests are held in Bangkok, dozens are killed
    2011: Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin, elected prime minister
    2013: Anti-government protesters hold massive demonstrations, Ms. Yingluck calls new elections
    2014: Protesters camp in Bangkok to shut down the city
    Voter Thippawan Sae-lao blamed election organizers for failing to protect her democratic right.

    She says she feels disappointed because she could not cast her vote. They should have been well prepared, she says, because they already knew people would come out to vote.

    Well-known independent politician Chuwit Kamolvisit was assaulted when he arrived at the empty polling station in his own neighborhood.

    A few protesters splashed water at Chuwit, knocked him down, and pulled his shirt, but were quickly subdued by his security.

    Chuwit, a massage parlor king turned anti-corruption advocate, says both the ruling party and opposition are to blame for Thailand's deep divisions.

    “They have a conflict now. And, next year it's going to be a new conflict," said Chuwit. "Until they learn that the conflict have to be solved with the compromise, that is a politic. Politic(s) is a compromise, man. If not compromise, war.”

    But protesters failed to stop the election itself and throughout most of Bangkok, and the rest of Thailand, ballots were delivered and voting took place with few incidents.

    Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.
    x
    Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.
    Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.
    At polling stations, police and soldiers were dispatched to maintain order, though neither used force.

    After polls closed Sunday, Thailand's Election Commission on national television said 89% of the country's 93,000 polling stations were able to open.

    Commission chairman Supachai Somcharoen repeated the commission's opposition to holding the election during the current unrest but also thanked voters for participating.

    He says they are studying the laws and regulations to set February 23rd as a new election date for eligible voters who could not cast their ballots during early voting on January 26th.

    Protesters that day blocked voting at nearly all of Bangkok's districts in scenes that led many to question their commitment to democracy.

    Despite their failure to stop the election, protesters, who want an un-elected council to take over to usher in unspecified reforms, were in a celebratory and defiant mood.

    Protesters danced to live music at Bangkok's Victory Monument, one of several protest sites in the city.

    Paengporn Kunork says they want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her family, who they say are corrupt, out of Thai politics.

    She says they are celebrating as if they won because they are gradually winning, step by step. But their ultimate goal, she says, is to force the prime minister to reform and then they can start to reform the country.

    After Sunday’s vote, attention turns to legal challenges to the ruling party in the courts in the coming weeks, and by-elections in the coming months.

    Despite months of turmoil, Thailand’s political standoff shows no signs of nearing an end.

    You May Like

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border From Mexico

    In remote areas of the Sonoran Desert, which straddles the US-Mexico, thousands of migrants face arid desolation

    Video Recycling is Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    It's an ancient craft that stretches back millennia - but despite Lebanon’s trash crisis providing a lifeline, remaining glass blowers face an uncertain future

    Meet the Alleged Killer of Cambodia’s Kem Ley

    What little is known about former soldier, troublesome Buddhist monk and indebted gambler, raises more questions than answers

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora