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.
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.
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

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs