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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora