News / Asia

Thais Seen Lifting State of Emergency as Business Suffers

FILE- Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Jan. 28, 2014 in Bangkok.
FILE- Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Jan. 28, 2014 in Bangkok.
Reuters
Thailand is expected to lift a state of emergency in Bangkok, almost two months after it was imposed to quell anti-government protests, because of pressure from businesses and in light of improving security, a top official said on Tuesday.
 
Protesters trying to bring down Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and end what they see as the pervasive influence of her brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, have been on the streets for four months.
 
The instability is unnerving consumers, with confidence at a 12-year low, and automakers, property firms and hotels in Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy are feeling the pinch.
 
Twenty-three people have been killed, most in shootings and grenade blasts, since late November and the bloodshed is scaring tourists away from Bangkok.
 
National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr said there was a “very high chance” the emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas would be lifted soon.
 
“Business organizations have asked that it be lifted and the overall situation is easing,” Paradorn told reporters.
 
The protests are the latest turmoil to rattle a country broadly divided between urban, middle-class supporters of the royalist establishment and the rural supporters of former telecoms tycoon Thaksin, mostly in the north and northeast.
 
Thaksin's supporters say he was the first Thai political leader to keep campaign promises to help the poor.
 
His critics, who say he is the real power behind his sister's government, say he used his wealth and taxpayers' money on wasteful populist policies that have allowed him to commandeer a fragile democracy.
 
In their bid to bring Yingluck down, the demonstrators tried to occupy ministries and other state offices and later blocked major Bangkok intersections. Early this month, with numbers dwindling, they withdrew to a city park.
 
Blasts
 
Despite the easing tension, the violence has not ended.
 
Three people were injured on Tuesday when an explosive device was thrown into Lumpini Park, where the protesters have set up camp. On Monday, a grenade was thrown near another protest. No one was hurt.
 
With the army not intervening to oust Yingluck, as it did in 2006 with a coup against Thaksin, the protesters are hoping the courts, widely seen as supportive of the anti-Thaksin establishment, will eventually bring her down.
 
Yingluck faces various legal challenges, with one of the potentially most serious being a charge of dereliction of duty brought against her by the anti-corruption agency over a rice-subsidy scheme that has left hundreds of thousands of farmers unpaid.
 
A Bangkok civil court limited the government's powers on Feb. 19, prohibiting force to crack down on protesters and stopping authorities from banning gatherings.
 
Paradorn said that the ruling had removed a reason for maintaining the emergency as it limited what the government could do under it anyway.
 
A Feb. 2 election, disrupted by protesters and boycotted by the main opposition party, failed to resolve the impasse and left Yingluck, whose party is likely win the vote, head of a caretaker government with limited spending power.
 
The government needs voting to be completed in the 18 percent of constituencies where it was disrupted in order to  muster enough legislators to convene parliament.
 
Some re-runs were held this month and the Election Commission said on Tuesday it would hold re-runs in 11 other provinces on April 5 and 27.
 
Separately, the government is waiting for a Constitutional Court ruling on what to do in 28 districts where candidates were unable to register for the vote.
 
Speaking to reporters, Yingluck said the sooner voting was completed the faster the country could move on.
 
“I want every side to wait for the Constitutional Court ruling. If it comes quickly we can move toward elections quickly,” said Yingluck. “We have wasted enough time and opportunities.”

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More