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Protesters have occupied several government buildings in the capital, Bangkok [Reuters]
|The Thai government has declared a state of emergency in the capital Bangkok and surrounding areas to cope with protests aimed at forcing the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, from power.Chalerm Yubumrung, Thailand’s labour minister, announced on Tuesday that the restrictions would come into force after midnight and last 60 days.
“We need it because the protesters have closed government buildings, banks and escalated the situation, which has caused injuries and deaths. The government sees the need to announce the emergency decree to keep the situation under control,” Yubumrung said.
The decree will allow security agencies to impose curfews, detain suspects without charge, censor media, ban political gatherings of more than five people and declare areas off-limits.
Yingluck said police, not the military, would mainly be used and her government had no intention of confronting the protesters.
“We will use peaceful negotiations with the protesters in line with international standards … We have told the police to stick with international standards, to be patient with the protesters,” she said on Tuesday.
The state of emergency follows increasing attacks at protest sites for which the government and the protesters blame each other. These include grenade attacks and drive-by shootings.
On Sunday, 28 people were wounded when two grenades were thrown at one of several protest sites set up in Bangkok.
Another grenade attack on a protest march last Friday killed one man and wounded dozens. No arrests have been made in either attack.
The protesters have been demanding Yingluck’s resignation to make way for an appointed government to implement reforms to fight corruption.
The protesters say that Yingluck’s government is carrying on the practices of Thaksin Shinawatra, her billionaire brother who was prime minister from 2001 to 2006, by using the family fortune and state funds to influence voters and cement its power.
Yingluck called elections for February 2, but the protesters want them postponed. The opposition Democrat Party, closely aligned with the protesters, is boycotting the polls.
The announcement of the emergency decree said the elections would proceed as planned.
The proposed introduction of an amnesty law has sparked the latest round of protests [AFP]
|A Thai police officer has been killed and dozens of people wounded in clashes between security forces and opposition protesters in the capital, Bangkok, on a day the election commission urged the government to postpone February polls.More than 60 people were injured during the running battle between anti-government protesters, calling for government to resign and postponment of polls, and the police, according to the emergency services.
“He was shot in his chest and brought to hospital by helicopter,” said Jongjet Aoajenpong, director of the Police General Hospital.
“A team of doctors tried to resuscitate him for more than half an hour.”
Violence broke out as demonstrators tried to force their way into a sports stadium in the Thai capital, where representatives of about 30 political parties were gathered to register for parliamentary elections.
Scores of demonstrators, some armed with sling shots, threw rocks and attempted to break through police lines prompting the police to use rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon.
Inside the stadium the lot-drawing process was apparently unaffected by the unrest outside the gates.
However, some election officials later left the stadium by helicopter to avoid the unrest and because protesters were blocking the exits.
The election commission said in a statement that it was urging the government to consider “postponing the elections”, citing the security situation.
“We cannot organise free and fair elections under the constitution in the current circumstances,” Election Commission member Prawit Rattanapien said at a news conference.
Government officials did not immediately answer calls seeking a response.
The clashes are the first violent incident in almost two weeks of daily demonstrations on the streets of Bangkok and the worst civil disturbance since 2010, when more than 90 civilians were killed in a crackdown on anti-government protests.
This latest unrest, which has drawn tens of thousands of protesters onto the streets, has left five people dead and more than 200 wounded.
“Protesters are not peaceful and unarmed as they claimed,” Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said in a televised address on Thursday.
“They are intimidating officials and trespassing in government buildings.”
Protesters want Yingluck to step down and they oppose the elections, due to take place on February 2, because she is seen as sure to win them.
Her brother is the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and lives in self-imposed exile to avoid imprisonment on corruption charges.
He or his allies have won every election for the last 12 years.
In mid-October Yingluck tried to introduce an amnesty law that would have allowed Thaksin to return as a free man, a move that sparked the latest round of protests.
On Wednesday, protesters rejected a compromise from Yingluck, who announced a proposal for a national reform council. They are planning more civil disobedience and street protests to force her to resign as caretaker prime minister.
Police have not tried to arrest the ringleader, Suthep Thaugsuban, who is demanding the country be led by an unelected council until reforms can be implemented.
Protesters were on the way to the Yingluck’s residence to continue their demonstration, where about 500 police officers have been stationed.
Thai Prime Minister Dissolves Parliament In Response To Protests, Calls For New Elections | Zero Hedge
Moments ago news hit the tape that during a televised speech in Bangkok, Thai Prime Minister has proposed a decree to dissolve parliament and call new elections. This is likely in response to the plans of government protesters, who had planned to march on Government House this morning to pressure Yingluck to step down and hold fresh elections.
BREAKING: Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolves Parliament, calls for elections.
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 9, 2013
Additionally, as VOA reports, a caretaker parliament will be appointed with limited powers.
PM Yingluck: For now caretaker cabinet with limited power. #Thailand
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) December 9, 2013
The immediate result is that the Thai Baht gains 0.1% to 32.115 against the USD, after being down as much as 0.5% earlier. However, this kneejerk reaction may not last. As VOA also reports…
Ms. Yingluck remaining as interim PM unlikely to mollify anti-gov’t marchers. #Thailand
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) December 9, 2013
Whether or not this development will be seen as bullish for the EURJPY formerly known as the S&P500, is of course a rhetorical question: if it is a flashing red headline, it is always bullish for stocks.
Thailand Police & Military Step Aside As Anti-Government Protesters Reach PM’s Office; Declare Victory | Zero Hedge
As the “peoples’ coup” in Thailand gets the blessing of the country’s Military leader (who stated he would not intervene), the police have also undertaken an unexpected reversal of strategy by removing barriers from the heavily fortified police and government buildings. The government no longer wants to confront the protesters in the 3rd of fighting with 3 dead and at least 230 injured. As AP reports, the protesters have made no attempts (yet) to enter Government House but are milling around the entrance. The government has ‘asked’ people to stay inside and police helicopters are reportedly dropping leaflets warning demonstrators to move out of the rally sites (on grounds of insurrection and possibel death penalty). The anti-government protesters have declared “victory” as the police state “there will be no tear gas today.”
The protests come as “the people” rise up against “the elites” – a familar story (via The Economist):
The “people’s coup”, declared by Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister from the opposition Democrat party, states that“Thailand ruled by the Shinawatras is intolerable, and therefore the clan, including Miss Yingluck, Mr Thaksin and the rest, must be removed from power and replaced by a “perfectly democratic People’s Council.”
Alt-Thai News Network sums up the people’s view of the current leader:
In a particularly cogent op-ed titled, “Yingluck can’t duck responsibility for protest fatalities,” former editor Veera Prateepchaikul sums up perfectly the state of illegitimacy within which the current regime in Thailand resides.
He begins by describing Yingluck Shinawatra, current prime minister and sister of deposed US-backed dictator Thaksin Shinawatra, as aloft and absent. During the rare occasion she does attend any sort of government function, she appears lost and confused, and often bluntly states she does not know the answers to questions any other national leader would be embarrassed not to answer. This illustrates her role as placeholder for her brother, not the “democratically elected leader” she is portrayed as being by the Western media.
and while we have seen this kind of unrest before, this time is different (via The Economist):
For as long as Thais can recall, their governments have built up their majorities in the provinces. The same governments have been unmade rather handily in the capital, to the perennial relief of the Bangkok elite who enjoy ties with the royal palace. The notion that power has shifted permanently from the centre to the provinces—where the Shinawatras have their base—seems to be unacceptable to many of the old guard. The elite are used to thinking that power can always be clawed back in Bangkok.
As the last few days have been bloody and violent as this amazing drone clip shows:
Thailand’s Military appear to implicitly bless the coup…
Thailand’s armed forces will “stand from afar and monitor” anti-govt protests, Army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha tells reporters, adding that political problems should “be solved by politics.”
Which has lead to this…
A collapse in Thai Consumer Confidence
and this… (via Alt-Thai News Network)
Anti-regime protesters, outnumbering police at two locations in Bangkok, Police Head Quarters and Government House, are poised to take over and occupy both locations peacefully as they have other government sites throughout the city.
However, the regime has dropped leaflets over the protesters claiming that the anti-regime protests constitute “insurrection” (which carries a maximum penalty of death), that the leaders are to be arrested, and protesters are to return home.
And the following…
However, we would be surprised if the regime just allowed itself to be overthrown:
More than 100,000 protesters congregated at Democracy Monument in Bangkok yesterday to protest Thai PM Yingluck Shiniwatra’s consideration of an amnesty bill to pardon her banned brother Thaksin Shiniwatra, the former Thai PM ousted from the country in a 2006 coup.
Thai anti-government, anti-corruption protests at Democracy Monument, Sunday, 24 November 2013
Simply explained, the proposed amnesty bill by the current Thai PM is similar in nature to US Presidential pardons, often administered by outgoing US Presidents to pardon their criminal friends.
For example, here are just a few of the 150 criminals US President Bill Clinton pardoned during his administration:
Amy Ralston Pofahl (drug money laundering, distribution and manufacturing ecstasy)
Norman Lyle Prouse (Former Captain for Northwest Airlines, imprisoned for flying while intoxicated)
Richard Wilson Riley Jr. (Cocaine and marijuana charges, father was Clinton’s Education Secretary)
Dan Rostenkowski (former Democratic Congressman convicted in the Congressional Post Office scandal)
Edward Downe, Jr. (wire fraud, false income tax returns and securities fraud)
Roger Clinton, Jr. (cocaine charges, half-brother of President Bill Clinton)
Mansour Azizkhani (1984 false statements in bank loan applications)
Nicholas M. Altiere (1983 importation of cocaine)
Bernice Ruth Altschul (1992 money laundering conspiracy)
Marc Rich (tax evasion and illegally making oil deals with Iran during the Iran hostage crisis)
Here are just a few of the 189 criminals George W. Bush pardoned during his administration:
Bruce Louis Bartos (Transportation of a machine gun in foreign commerce)
Michael Robert Moelter (Conducting an illegal gambling business)
Samuel Wattie Guerry (Food Stamp fraud)
Meredith Elizabeth Casares (Embezzlement of US Postal Service Funds)
Joseph William Warner (Arson)
Rusty Lawrence Elliot (Making counterfeit Federal Reserve notes)
Rufus Edward Harris (Conspiracy to deliver 10 or more grams of LSD)
Larry Paul Lenius (Conspiracy to distribute cocaine)
Donald Lee Pendergrass (Armed bank robbery)
Karen Marie Edmonson (Distribution of methamphetamines)
Glanus Terrell Osborne (Possession of a stolen motor vehicle)
Samuel Lewis Whisel (Aiding and abetting the transportation of stolen goods)
Richard James Putney, Jr. (Aiding and abetting the escape of a prisoner)
And here are just a few of the 39 criminals Barack Obama has thus far pardoned during his administration (most US Presidential pardons are granted just prior to the end of the sitting President’s term. Thus most of Obama’s pardons will be granted in the future):
Edwin Hardy Futch, Jr. (Theft from an interstate shipment)
Jon Christopher Kozeliski (Conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods)
Michael John Petri (Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine)
Lynn Marie Stanek (Unlawful use of a communication facility to distribute cocaine)
Dennis George Bulin (Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 pounds of marijuana)
Thomas Paul Ledford (Conducting and directing an illegal gambling business)
Timothy James Gallagher (Cocaine possession and conspiracy to distribute)
Bobby Gerald Wilson (Aiding and abetting the possession and sale of illegal American alligator hides)
From the above, it is blatantly obvious that US Presidents regularly abuse the sanctity of their office to pardon a wide range of offenses committed by their friends, including arson, larceny, drug trafficking, armed robbery, fraud, counterfeiting, possession and trafficking of stolen goods, and participation in illegal gambling enterprises. If you wonder why banks like Wachovia, HSBC, Citigroup, JP Morgan et al regularly get away with knowingly laundering money for violent drug cartels without a single banker ending up in jail for this criminal behavior, the actions of current and former POTUS clearly illustrates that the War on Drugs is a false war with a real ulterior motive of producing profits for those parties, including bankers and politicians, most heavily involved in it. As I couldn’t find a case of human trafficking pardoned among the several hundred pardons granted by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, perhaps this is the one crime so heinous that even US Presidents are unwilling to pardon it.
In light of the above, it is no wonder that Thai citizens are fed up with government corruption that plagues all governments worldwide, and have taken to the streets to protest a proposed amnesty bill that would not only provide amnesty for a list of former PM Thaksin’s “political offenses stretching back to the 2006 coup” according to the Bangkok Post, but would also return Thaksin’s considerable 46 billion baht (USD $1.4 billion) of frozen assets gained through corruption, perhaps with interest. The Bangkok Post also noted that “all government officials, from former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to military commanders, held accountable by the red shirts for the deaths of 92 people in the May 19 crackdown in 2010 will also be absolved of all wrongdoing” as part of the proposed amnesty bill. Furthermore, in a huge conflict of interest, 600 million baht would be returned to the current Prime Minister, Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. According to Bloomberg, “the amnesty bill angered Thaksin’s opponents, who said it could whitewash crimes he allegedly committed in power, while some of his own supporters criticized the law for protecting opposition leaders who allowed the army to use live ammunition to disperse protesters in 2010 when their Democrat party held power.”
In response to this protest, thus far, more than USD $2.1 billion in capital has been withdrawn from the Thai bond and equities market just this month through the 22nd of November, and the Thai baht has now fallen to 31.94 to the USD, its weakest showing since 13 September of this year. As the Bank of Thailand refused to engage in the currency war to the bottom at a time when all major Central Banks were engaging in this war, could further Thai baht devaluation be on the horizon, especially in light of the political instability in Thailand now? Most certainly.
Update, via Reuters, 7:22 PM Bangkok Time: “More than 1,000 anti-government
demonstrators entered the compound of Thailand’s Foreign Ministry on
Monday as part of protests aimed at overthrowing Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra. Protesters lifted the main gate of the ministry and
drove a car and a six-wheel truck into the compound to use as a
temporary stage, a Reuters witness said. Leaders of the protest
announced they would occupy and stay overnight at the ministry. Earlier, about 1,000 anti-government demonstrators forced their way into
the Finance Ministry and protest leaders called for the occupation of
other government buildings in an escalating bid to topple the
government. The swiftly rising political tension came as more
than 30,000 demonstrators marched to 13 areas across the city, raising
the risk of a clash with police, a day after about 100,000 gathered in
the city’s historic quarter.”
Related posts: “The Biggest Disaster in SE Asia Waiting to Happen: Thailand’s Massive Real Estate Bubble”. Follow us onTwitter, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and sign up for our free newsletter here.
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