News / Asia

Thailand’s Embattled Prime Minister Insists She Will Stay

Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra gets emotional after speaking at a press conference, in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 10, 2013.
Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra gets emotional after speaking at a press conference, in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 10, 2013.
Thailand’s government is again rebuffing demands from protest leaders that it be dissolved to make way for an appointed council to lead the country.

A day after she moved to dissolve the parliament and call for elections, it became evident that weeks of street protests against her government were taking an emotional toll on prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

In brief remarks, she pleaded for understanding that she must remain as caretaker until elections on February 2, despite repeated demands by the opposition for her to immediately depart.

The prime minister said she has backed down to the point where she does not know how to concede any further. She said she also wants to be treated fairly.

As she left the podium, reporters noticed her eyes welling with tears.

Outside the Army Club where she was meeting with members of her cabinet, demonstrators pressed for her removal.

The previous day more than 150,000 people had marched to the main government complex in opposition to what they label an illegitimate regime controlled by Yingluck’s brother - former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He remains in self-imposed exile to avoid prison time for a corruption conviction in Thailand.

  • Thai anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban holds clenched fists during a march with his supporters in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 22, 2013. 
  • Thai anti-government protesters march cross Takin Bridge during a rally, Dec. 22, 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand. 
  • Thai anti-government protesters march in the streets, Dec. 22, 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand. 
  • Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Thailand's capital paralyzing traffic and facing off with police outside the prime minister's residence in their latest mass rally against Thailand's government, Dec. 22, 2013, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • A Thai anti-government protester holds a banner as she joins a rally outside Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's residence, Dec. 22, 2013, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, center, with his wife Srisakul Promphan, in white, arrives at the Democracy monument, in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 15, 2013. 
  • A protester with a Thai national flag walks past concrete barriers sprayed with "Failed Government" outside the fence around Government House, wrapped by a long banner in the colors of the national flag in Bangkok, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters remove barbed wire after briefly entering the compound of the prime minister's office, known as Government House, in Bangkok, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • Police wear their riot gear inside Government House, as anti-government protesters gather behind its fence and gates in Bangkok, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • A group of Buddhist monks walk past a sleeping anti-government protester at a protest camp on a road near Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters sleep outside Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters carry a huge Thai national flag as they march in Bangkok, Dec. 9, 2013.

While the government makes preparations for elections in less than 60 days, Yingluck's opponents continue to demand that the government instead be replaced by an unelected “people's council.”

As one of the more politically open countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand's political standoff has raised concerns abroad.

The U.S. State Department has issued a statement supporting the democratic process, including elections. Spokesperson Jen Psaki said Washington wants the situation resolved without further violence.

“Our focus here is on continuing to encourage a peaceful resolution of what’s happening on the ground in Thailand and certainly we’ve been watching closely as is evidenced by our statement. But there’s no implication there of any support for any side or anything along those lines,” stated Psaki.

In Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei also expressed support for elections.

Hong said that “as a friendly neighbor China hopes the election will be conducted smoothly” and wants to “see that all parties operate within the constitution and the law.”

It remains unclear whether the opposition forces will boycott the election, in which they would be underdogs.

One of the opposition leaders, Suthep Thaugsuban, who resigned from the Democrat Party, has demanded civil servants report to the protest group instead of the government. Suthep, who faces arrest on insurrection charges,  has also urged that volunteer neighborhood security forces be established to take over from the police, whom he considers to be corrupt and defenders of the government.

Steve Herman

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

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: TK from: South East Asia
December 11, 2013 10:03 AM
This is a class fight between the poor and the elites Bangkoknians. The common interest shared within the Bangkoknians are the attitude of having a universal right to rule Thailand, looking down upon the poor and denying poor people their right to be apart of decision making process in Thai politics. The current democratically elected government is doing everything its can to avoid the bloodshed while the violent mob gang led by Suthep is pushing more confrontation in the hope violence will take place leading to a military coup.

This is the class fight of the poor and the rich elites. It is not quite difficult for any person to find out the disparity between the rich and poor in Thailand. All you've got to do is to get a long bus ride from the top to the bottom of the map of Thailand; there you will find the landscape of Thailand screaming you the gigantic gap of wealth distribution between the Bangkok and the rest of the country.

Bangkok has everything that modem society has to offer today while non of those living outside of Bangkok are denied.In fact, Bangkok is a country within Thailand. The successive governments of Thailand has ignored the poor. Even the proper inner bus system are not available in any places of Thailand outside Bangkok.

The current political crisis came along due to the fact that much attention of the government is given to the poor for the first time. If the violent protesters win in this class battle, Thailand for sure will become a dictatorship country. Hope, the current democratically elected government can defend the will of the majority of Thai people against arrogant Bangkoknians attempted coup.

by: Kwan from: Thailand
December 11, 2013 3:03 AM
I'm only 14,live in Thailand.and comment to tell truth. Ms.Yingluck chinawatra(the prime minister)is the puppet of her older brother,Mr.Thaksin chinawatra.
evidences are 2000000000000 baht project that had many wicked and swindle plans like Maewong dam that the government said they will build at Maewong forest , they told that Maewong forest is only degenerate forest and doesn't had important animals.But when some people went to Maewong forest to survey there are a lot of peacocks,Bengal tigers,crocodiles,etc. that very difficult to find! Build dam for protect flood?l didn't believed! Why the government didn't wanted to build dam in degenerate area but wanted to build dam in Maewong forest? I think you will know. And another plan in this project are swindle too! Because This project had only dams,trains,etc. but will use 2000000000000 baht! Don't you think the government is corruption?and Mr.Thaksin(The prime minister that didn't lived in Thailand)- Ms.Yingluck's brother gave interview to English newspaper, essence is "my life will be better after the death of the king of Thailand." He is very very very very........very very wicked and ungrateful! because our king is did a lot of work for Thai people.like royal project that our king supported hill tribe to plant peaches, strawberries ,etc. that make a lot of money more than opium. So hill tribe were Quit drug addiction,Origin drug source was eliminated in peace,and hill tribe had honest work. Had any governments in the world can do like this? Hope that you know well. There are a lot of evidences that l can tell you but l haven't more time to explain you. I assure that evidences l told you are truth.
I and many Thai people will very grateful if you share this truth to many people. We want you to know truth that may not be in general news.
From the girl that actually love her country and her king
In Response

by: Kwan from: Thailand
December 12, 2013 8:24 AM
To Miss Monica
I want to tell truth to you that our mob is not communist. You live in Los Angeles but l live in Thailand. Hope that you know different of The accuracy of news between Thailand that actually had this Political turmoil and the country that very far from this Political turmoil. Did you heard news about Mr.Thaksin (the prime minister's older brother),the prime minister,and the government corruption our country? If you didn't and want to know this news, you have to find this news by yourself.because l didn't want to explains any reasons or evidences to someone who didn't fair enough to listen Thai peoples that can't oppose the sassy,cheat,ungrateful,and wicked government any more!

If you don't know true story,please don't assert without evidence to us like this! Because we hurt that we did true things to our country but others don't appreciate and believe the government more than us! Please read my first comment again slowly and think did it has reasons?
In Response

by: Monica from: Los Angeles
December 11, 2013 9:35 PM
People council "communist party" soon sunthep thug, mob, going to become first secretary general "communist style"!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs