News / Asia

    Thai Prime Minister Rejects Calls to Step Down

    Thailand Political Deadlock Continues As Protests Turn Violenti
    X
    December 02, 2013 9:06 PM
    Thailand's prime minister says she is open to negotiations to defuse the country's political crisis, but remains unwilling to bow to her opponent's demands to turn over the government to an unelected council. VOA's Steve Herman reports from Bangkok, where Yingluck Shinawatra said the country's influential military will remain neutral in the standoff.
    Thailand's prime minister says she is open to negotiations to defuse the country's political crisis, but remains unwilling to bow to her opponents’ demands to turn over the government to an unelected council. Yingluck Shinawatra also says the country's influential military will remain neutral in the standoff.
     
    Bangkok's street rallies, which began weeks ago, have escalated into increasingly violent confrontations as protest leaders vow to topple the government this week.
     
    Outside the prime minister's offices, police fired rubber bullets, tear gas canisters and deployed water cannons to contain the protesters.
     
    Despite the chaos at some rally sites, business in the city largely continued unimpeded Monday and most government workers appeared to ignore the opposition's call for a strike.
     
    But demonstrators remain committed to their cause. Protester Watcharapon Vichayathanatom, says the fact that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s party won an election landslide in 2011 is meaningless.
     
    She said the prime minister’s election resulted from vote buying and buying the votes of politicians. So she may have won the election but millions of people have now come out, so she cannot say any longer that she has the majority of votes.
     
    Yingluck said the opposition is neither asking for her resignation nor for the dissolution of parliament, but rather that the prime minister’s power be returned to the people.
     
    “I don’t know how we can proceed with this offer because this offer does not exist under the practice of this constitutional law,” Yingluck  said.
     
    To some of the protesters, such as Raewat Pampradit, people power - although not clearly defined - is the only solution. He said power must be returned to the people and a people’s council established.
     
    Tight corner 
     
    Political Developments in Thailand

    2006: Army overthrows Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
    2007: Pro-Thaksin People Power Party wins elections
    2008: Anti-Thaksin protesters, known as Yellow Shirts, stage months of demonstrations, briefly paralyze airports. Abhisit Vejjajiva becomes prime minister.
    2010: Massive pro-Thaksin "Red Shirt" protests held in Bangkok, dozens killed
    2011: Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin, elected prime minister
    2013: Anti-government protesters hold massive street demonstrations
    Thailand has been politically unstable for seven years since Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was deposed in a military coup. But the governing party has won every election since 2001.
     
    Chulalongkorn University political science professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak said the prime minister finds herself in a tight corner even though what the opposition proposes is likely not acceptable to a majority of the electorate.
     
    “It’s a kind of civilian coup led by the protest movement backed by the Democrat Party machinery and representing many minority voters who have been losing the elections in Thailand. They have become fed up, disillusioned with the election system and Thailand electoral democracy,” said Thitinan.
     
    Democracy has long been fragile here with the military conducting 18 coups since the end of absolute monarchy rule in 1932.
     
    Yingluck said the generals will remain neutral. But many observers believe the military will ultimately be the deciding factor, in the days ahead, in whether this government survives.
    • Anti-government protesters throw rocks after riot police fired tear gas at them near the Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 2, 2013.
    • A military medical unit team assists an injured protester after riot police threw a tear gas canister during clashes in Bangkok, Dec. 2, 2013.
    • Anti-government protesters use fans to blow away tear gas as riot police use a water cannon during clashes in Bangkok, Dec. 2, 2013.
    • A Buddhist monk helps an anti-government protester clean his eyes with salt water solution after riot police fired tear gas in Bangkok, Dec. 2, 2013.
    • An anti-government protester throws a tear gas canister towards police from behind a barricade during clashes near the Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 1, 2013.
    • A crowd listens to an anti-government speech at and above a major Bangkok intersection, Thailand, Dec. 1, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • Police stand behind razor wire at their headquarters in Bangkok, Dec. 1, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • An anti-government protester gets ready to throw back a tear gas canister fired by riot police in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 1, 2013.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: hoan dao from: ha noi
    December 02, 2013 11:38 PM
    it likes a crisis of belief when the electoral system does not satisfy people. How does this situation go on with the violence rising up everyday? It can not predict.

    by: Dorcas from: South Africa
    December 02, 2013 11:31 PM
    I think the protesters are very unrealistic. They certainly haven't learnt from what happened in Egypt. Forcing a democratically elected leader to step down will always result in more bloodshed. They should at least let her finish her current term in office.

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    December 02, 2013 8:50 PM
    It looks like fair for all people to resolve the parliament and elect a new prime minister. Why protesters and ex-vice PM require neither dissolution nor resignation of PM? Thaksin groups still remains powerful in rural area and they are supposed to win the election again?

    by: Thai from: BKK
    December 02, 2013 7:35 PM
    Steve, You are totally wrong in data and information. We are not sure that you hosted in BKK or in north pole. PM have not rejected the step down. In opposite, She accepted step down but PM step down is not target from protesters.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora