News / Asia

Thousands Rally Against Thai Government

Thai policemen try to arrest anti-government protesters during their clash in Bangkok, Thailand Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012.
Thai policemen try to arrest anti-government protesters during their clash in Bangkok, Thailand Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012.
Ron Corben
Opponents of Thailand's government held a one day rally Saturday, accusing the government of corruption and mal-administration. The government fears the protests are a prelude for violence. Minor clashes occurred when police used tear gas before making arrests with seveal police officers and protestors were reported injured.

Thousands of demonstrators faced tight security Saturday as they took to the streets in protest of the government of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.  Hundreds of police and provincial security authorities cordoned off streets near the protest.  Authorities said more than 100 people were arrested.

The anti-government Pitak Siam or "Protect Thailand" group, led by a retired army general, had hoped to muster up to 100,000 people at the rally in central Bangkok. But police said fewer than 30,000 showed up.

The government activated its emergency powers through the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the increased police presence appeared to have lowered turnout, with police road-blocks outside the city slowing arrivals to the protest site.

Late in the day protest leader General Boonlert Kaewprasit called off the rally saying police had sought to lure the protests into violence.  The rally was also dampened by a late heavy downpour of rain.

Earlier, police had fired tear gas against demonstrators who attempted to break through police lines.

Pian Pinphut , a rally coordinator, said several people needed treatment at nearby hospitals for tear gas inhalation.  

“Now the police with all weapons are preventing people from entering or continuing on the street. This morning police used tear gas against the people," said Pinphut. "To threaten ...but after about one hour they stopped using it. Some of my friends some of the media and some of the people got the tear gas and some of them were caught (by police).”  
 
The rally, the second by the Pitak Siam group, was being seen as a test of the level of opposition to the government of Prime Minister Yingluck, elected in July 2011.

Rally protestors Saturday told VOA their concerns were corruption, vote buying and the direction of the economy under the government’s so-called populist policies.

A businessman, who asked not be named, said higher official's wages and corruption were his main concerns.  

“Corruption - It is worse, it is. Before all right you have to accept that before it was between about five and 10 per cent but now the minimum is 30 per cent - minimum 30 per cent (of contracts),” he said.

General Kittisak Rathprasert at Anti-Government Rally Bangkok November 24, 2012 (VOA Photo R. Corben).General Kittisak Rathprasert at Anti-Government Rally Bangkok November 24, 2012 (VOA Photo R. Corben).
x
General Kittisak Rathprasert at Anti-Government Rally Bangkok November 24, 2012 (VOA Photo R. Corben).
General Kittisak Rathprasert at Anti-Government Rally Bangkok November 24, 2012 (VOA Photo R. Corben).
An army general, Kittisak Rathprasert, said people had come to the rally because of political corruption and vote buying at elections.

“In Thailand here for the money to make the power; when you have the power to make money always like that - Now I want to stop corruption, stop the absolute power, that’s why all the people come here because now the people absolutely we have a very, very bad government,” said Rathprasert.

The latest rallies come ahead of a no-confidence debate in parliament this coming week where the opposition parties are set to target the government over corruption, especially in the agricultural sector.

The anti-government rally was the largest since bloody protests in 2010 against the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva and in support of Prime Minister Yingluck’s older brother, former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, that left over 90 people dead and hundreds injured.

Thaksin, facing a jail term for corruption, is still a major influence in Thai politics.   He remains overseas but is reported to be pressing the government to pass amnesty and constitutional reform laws to enable his return to Thailand.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs