News / Asia

Ousted Thai Prime Minister 'Detained' by Coup Leaders; US Suspends Aid

Thai Army Chief Declares Himself PM As Former Leaders Submiti
X
Steve Herman
May 23, 2014 4:52 PM
A day after launching a coup, Thailand’s military on Friday summoned key politicians to army offices, including the previous caretaker prime minister and former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, meanwhile declared himself the acting prime minister. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Thai Army Chief Declares Himself PM As Former Leaders Submit
Steve HermanRon Corben
Ousted Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and dozens of other political figures appear to have been detained after arriving for meetings with military leaders who took power in a coup this week.

After being summoned by the army, Yingluck and others arrived Friday at a military installation in Bangkok. Military officials are quoted as confirming that Yingluck is now in custody.  

Thai media reports say her aides were bringing her personal effects to a military base outside Bangkok. It is not clear if the other politicians in custody have been taken to the same camp.

U.S. suspends military aid

Meanwhile, the United States has suspended $3.5 million in military aid to Thailand, and says it is reviewing another $7 million in assistance for more cuts.

Friday's announcement came just hours after the Thai military took the country's ousted prime minister into custody, in an apparent move to solidify its grip on power.

The U.S. State Department also warned U.S. citizens against non-essential travel to the country.

The whereabouts of Yingluck and dozens of other political figures remained unclear early Saturday -- nearly two days after the Thai army announced its military coup.

The military already had banned Yingluck and more than 150 other political figures from leaving Thailand without permission.

It is not clear if the other politicians in custody are in the same camp. The country's caretaker prime minister, Niwattumrong Boosongpaisan, was among those summoned by military authorities. Until the bloodless coup, he had been in charge of the kingdom on an acting basis, after a court ordered Yingluck to step down earlier this month on charges of nepotism.

Broadcasters in Thailand began resuming normal operations late Friday.

Clampdown

Prayuth, the self-declared acting prime minister and ardent monarchist, was able to intimidate his two previous civilian predecessors into reporting to an army facility under threat of arrest if they disobeyed. A total of 155 people have been told not to leave the country.
 
The junta boss on Friday also summoned civil servants and invited the diplomatic corps and foreign military attaches for meetings to explain the new realities on the ground in the kingdom.
 

US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney speaks with VOA's Steve Herman in Bangkok, May 23, 2014.US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney speaks with VOA's Steve Herman in Bangkok, May 23, 2014.
x
US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney speaks with VOA's Steve Herman in Bangkok, May 23, 2014.
US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney speaks with VOA's Steve Herman in Bangkok, May 23, 2014.
As was apparently the case with most other heads of missions, U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney did not accept the invitation. In a VOA interview, she said that, despite the imposition of martial law on Tuesday, the coup announcement two days later came “as a bit of a surprise” and it will hurt the relationship between Bangkok and Washington.
 
“We have a longstanding relationship,” Kenney said. “But a coup in Thailand will have a negative implication. There'll be a high-level review in Washington by the United States government of our assistance and our engagements with Thailand, especially the Thai military. So that'll be looked at very carefully.”
 
Major Political Developments in Thailand:

2006:
Army overthrows Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

2007: The pro-Thaksin People Power Party wins elections

2008: Anti-Thaksin protesters, known as Yellow Shirts, stage months of demonstrations and briefly paralyze airports. Abhisit Vejjajiva becomes prime minister.

2010: Massive pro-Thaksin "red shirt" protests are held in Bangkok, dozens are killed

2011: Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin, elected prime minister 2013: Anti-government protesters hold massive demonstrations, Yingluck calls new elections

2014: Protesters camp in Bangkok, Yingluck government is removed, army declares martial law then seizes power in a May coup
Throughout most of Friday, Thai TV channels continued to carry only the army station’s programming, which was mostly patriotic music interspersed with pronouncements from the new National Peace and Order Maintaining Council. Some channels returned to regular broadcasts in the evening.
 
Despite the coup, Thailand’s 12th in eight decades, there was little significant troop presence on the streets of the capital.
 
A small but significant demonstration, organized by university students, defied the military order of no public gatherings by more than five people. They vented their anger at soldiers and denounced the coup.
 
The most serious immediate impact from the coup is likely to be on Thailand’s lucrative tourism industry.
 
On the resort island of Phuket, businessman Sanga Ruangwattanakul said the coup has worsened an already bad year following months of political turmoil.
 
"The big picture: We have had a lot of cancellations from this year,” he said, and going forward “all the online bookings have been cancelled."
 
The country, now under a seven-hour nightly curfew, has no idea how long military rule and its various restrictions will continue. After the last coup in 2006, elections were not held for another 15 months.
 
  • Soldiers take up position at the Democracy monument after the coup was declared in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters waiting at the Royal Plaza for transportation home stand behind a soldier after the coup was declared in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters get ready to leave their main encampment after the coup was declared in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
  • Thai journalists and foreign press watch the TV broadcast announcement of the coup by the Thai Armed Forces chiefs, at the press center of the Army Club, in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters raise their fists as they sing the national anthem, in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
  • Thai soldiers block a motorcade of an attendant at the Army Club shortly after the army staged a coup, May 22, 2014, in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • An armed soldier takes a position behind a military vehicle in the compound of the Army Club shortly after the military staged a coup, in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
  • Thai soldiers guard an area where anti-government protesters come to rally, in Bangkok, May 22, 2014.
  • Barefoot Buddhist monks walk past a checkpoint near a pro-government "red shirt" supporter encampment in Nakhon Pathom province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, May 22, 2014.

Steve Herman

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

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ian from: Dallas, TX USA
May 25, 2014 12:17 PM
It is pretty obvious the animosity against the democratically elected civilian government of Yingluck Shinawatra by posters here from Thailand is because only the "elite" in Thailand have internet access. The royalist kangaroo Constitutional Court that decided she did not have the authority to appoint her own National Security Chief is outrageous. Can you imagine any stable government whose leader has no voice in determining police or security posts surrounding her?
When government is controlled solely by businesses and corporations, that is the definition of fascism. It is sad to see Thailand move further away from being a free liberal democracy.

by: Long Bunna from: cambodia
May 24, 2014 11:32 AM
Why you all did everything disturb to coverment elect by countryside made.

by: Nick from: Miami
May 24, 2014 8:17 AM
I don't care what USA said about this isue. I belivef on Thai justys is better than USA they go to the point with evidences. Here in USA even with evidences the lawyer change the Law.
God Bless Thai People.

by: khuma from: islamabad
May 24, 2014 12:22 AM
Martial law is the only remedy to get rid of corrupt poltians who grab the national wealth with two hands without having any relization for their poor voters who elect them in hope better future.

by: ZD from: Bangkok
May 23, 2014 9:31 PM
It is interesting that the US ambassador said it came as a surprise. Here in Thailand everyone was asking when not if.

Further more the US should not be hypocritical, we fight to eradicate corrupt governments in the world and we want democratic governments. What if an elected government won by corruption and does everything to circumvent the law? That is what happened in Thailand and after no one could come to a reasonable common ground solution the only reasonable solution was for the military to be the adult and bring things to a real democracy.

Instead of complaining we should offer help and assistance to bring a corruption free democracy to Thailand.
In Response

by: Human from: Earth
May 24, 2014 12:22 AM
You can't demand charity
In Response

by: jim from: new zealand
May 23, 2014 11:13 PM
And so the General will now pay the rice farmers, who did they say was buying support.

People who say military coup and democracy in the same sentence need to go back to school.

by: Mark Causey from: Los Angeles
May 23, 2014 1:09 PM
Having looked at many pictures of Yingluck Shinawatra I have decided that the U.S. should start electing their leaders based on looks rather than perceived abilities. In the past 14 years we have had fools for leaders (Bush and Obama) so a new paradigm seems to be in order. According to the World Bank, "Thailand has been one of the great development success stories, with sustained strong growth and impressive poverty reduction..." That is more than can be said about the U.S. where the poverty rate has been steadily increasing, and growth has stagnated.
In Response

by: zd from: Bangkok
May 23, 2014 11:55 PM
J Smith,
I have to say that the fat, satellite watching poor in the US are the ones I pity. People here are happier, have a better family and social structure, live in their means, and have affordable satellite TV too. Even the most primitive household has that, the people are not buried under debts as they are in the US. We eat fresh vegetables, fish, etc. and are not fat, thus eliminating expensive health risks.
In Response

by: J Smith Anderson
May 23, 2014 6:53 PM
Being from that part of the world and now living in America I can definitely say that you don't know what you are talking about. If you think it's better there than here then I'll give you names of people would gladly trade places with you.
America is the only country I know where the "poor" people are fat and have satellite TV service in their living rooms.

by: Spawn_of_Santa from: Houston, Tx
May 23, 2014 12:55 PM
Eh, Thailand's having another coup.... just another day..... it's like a national pasttime for them.
In Response

by: zd from: Bangkok
May 23, 2014 11:46 PM
Over 75% of the people are relieved that there is now some order back and someone took the needed position of an adult. The biggest worry is now that the birthrate will go up in the next year as mor people have to get along with out TV and being early home.

Life is going on in Thailand as nothing has happened. It is needed to say that the perception here is different than the rest of the world and maybe the rest of the workd needs to examine the symptoms first before prescribing treatments. There is no one solution fits all problems, calling for immediate elections will not solve the problem, it woukd be like putting a bandaid on a wound that needs an operation to save the life of the patient.

by: OC resident from: Orange, CA
May 23, 2014 12:25 PM
Thailand has been going through political protests for months and both sides are unable to compromise for the sake of the country and its people. The coup is bloodless. Daily activities have been carried out normally. History indicates Thailand has had several peaceful, bloodless military coups for political change. I would stand by and let the General does what's best for the people of Thailand. It seems he is on the right track so far. Martial Law sounds scary but in this case it's an exception. I hope the General settles both parties, starts fresh government, gets Thailand economy up running at its optimum, so the country can prosper and Thais can smile beautifully.

by: Flavo from: Athens
May 23, 2014 10:54 AM
AGENDA 21 is at EVERYONES doorstep.

EXPOSE AGENDA 21!!!!

by: unclesam20009 from: Shengzhen, China
May 23, 2014 8:05 AM
Democracy is a good thing, but not an easy thing. Sometimes half Democracy not necessarily better than dictatorship.
In Response

by: zd from: Bangkok
May 23, 2014 11:34 PM
Democracy is a double edged sword. When democracy is misused like this government did it is worth than a dictatorship as it is hidden like a wolf in sheepskin.

Democracy also has responsibilities and this government did not take any responsibility for their actions. It is better for the military to step in abd find a solution than for a civil war to brake out with more loss of lifes than already lost. Elections are not always the way to go, have we not learned our lesson from history? How many elections have been supported that brought worse conditions to the people of those countries and the world?
In Response

by: Ian from: Dallas, TX USA
May 23, 2014 1:33 PM
The "average Thai" is poor. The opposition party does not even pretend to be democratic. They want an appointed government to their favor. Thailand has dysfunctional government and political system where no one believes in the give and take of compromise, of trying to lift everyone, including those less fortunate. Reminds me of Egypt; or the United States without a military junta.
In Response

by: 80 and counting from: texas
May 23, 2014 9:19 AM
I would hope we the United States keep our nose out of Thailand's internal affairs. The person that are in the position to provide valid information for our government apparently are asleep or influenced by Gala dinners and interpersonal feelings etc.
I recall one statement she made were she said that the Thai people loved the Prime Minister (Yingluck). What she should've said to give us correct information is that poor Thai's had been bought (their votes) with financial promises such as unusually high prices for rice they loved her because they were hoping to be paid for the Rice the government took. For the average Thai they are paying for a corrupt government in the price of petrol (gasoline) cooking gas and other necessities needed by the common person.

I think the General is going about this in the correct way and possibly if he is allowed to follow his plan without outside interference he may be able to get the country on an even keel that will result in true democracy. Democracy is more than just a word. Is a country practicing democracy when segments attempt to restrict the ability of members of the public from voting? Two elections in the United States in my opinion have not been a demonstration of democracy i.e. the vote in Florida the state that the winning president's brother was a governor. Four years later what happened in Ohio? We did not have countries around the world coming in and telling the United States that we did not run our country in the true spirit of democracy. I think we should sit back and allow the Thai's to straighten out a mess that has been a round since 2006.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs