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Thai protests turn deadly in Bangkok – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Thai protests turn deadly in Bangkok – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

Clashes between protesters and police leave four dead, as anti-fraud officials announce charges against PM Yingluck.

Last updated: 18 Feb 2014 11:08
Clashes between police and opposition protesters left four dead and dozens wounded in central Bangkok, as anti-fraud officials announced that the country’s embattled prime minister will be charged with neglect of duty.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission said on Tuesday that if found guilty of the charges – which relate to a controversial rice subsidy scheme – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra could be removed from office.

The announcement came hours after gunfire and explosions shook an area of the city’s historic district just a short walk away from major tourist attractions, as riot police moved to clear sites of protest rallies.

Tear gas was also fired near Government House in the centre of Bangkok, a Reuters news agency witness reported, as thousands of police officers, including anti-riot squads, were deployed across the city in an operation the government called “Peace for Bangkok”.

“One policeman has died and 14 police were injured,” national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew told Reuters. “The policeman died while being sent to hospital. He was shot in the head.”

We saw demonstrators throwing rubble, rocks, bottles, anything that they could lay their hands on at the police riot shields.

Veronica Pedrosa, Al Jazeera correspondent, Bangkok

Al Jazeera’s Veronica Pedrosa, reporting from Bangkok, said that when police attempted to clear the area with bulldozers and ranks of police, they were met with resistance.

Pedrosa reported that there was a large explosion which was reportedly a M79 grenade as well as several smaller explosions. “At that point, police fired back apparently using with rubber-coated steel bullets and handguns,” she said. “We saw demonstrators throwing rubble, rocks, bottles, anything that they could lay their hands on at the police riot shields,” she added.

The Associated Press reported that Erawan emergency medical services said at least 42 people were injured. It was not immediately known if they were protesters or police.

Protesters are calling for Yingluck to resign and make way for an unelected people’s council to implement reforms they say are needed to end corruption.

The protesters had reinforced the numbers around Government House to keep Yingluck from returning to work there. The caretaker leader has dissolved the parliament and had been forced to work at the temporary office in Bangkok’s suburbs after protesters surrounded her office in central Bangkok demanding her resignation.

Since the protesters started blocking government offices late last year and major intersections a month ago, police have avoided dispersing demonstrators for fear of unleashing violence.

But on Monday, the government’s special security command centre announced it would reclaim five protest sites around the city for public use, a move made possible under a state of emergency declared in January.

Protest leader Rawee Matchamadon said that police rounded up about 100 demonstrators outside the Energy Ministry, north of the city, and took them away in police trucks for questioning at a police base in Bangkok’s northern outskirts on Tuesday. Live video on Tnews cable television showed no resistance from the protesters during the operation early on Tuesday morning.

Violent outbursts

The recent police operations conducted raises fears of further chances of violent outbursts. In previous weeks of protests, at least 10 people have been killed and scores injured.

At another operation site near the Golden Mount, a temple on a hill, anti-riot police moved in to round up more anti-government protesters and used bulldozers to clear out a makeshift stage. Gunshots were heard during the operation and a police officer was seen injured on a live television report on FMTV cable channel.

Near Government House, police officers were asking protesters to leave.

“It is necessary for the police to return peace to the society and unblock the road in order to let the students go to school,” a policeman said through a loudspeaker. “We beg you not to do against the law or defy our operation.”

Caretaker Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt told Associated Press the protesters hijacked two of the city’s public buses and used them to block a rally site at the Interior Ministry near the Grand Palace.

Thailand has been wracked by political unrest since 2006, when Yingluck’s brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by a military coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. Since then, his supporters and opponents have vied for power.

Thailand declares Bangkok state of emergency – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Thailand declares Bangkok state of emergency – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

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.

Recent violence

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.

Bangkok shutdown protests under way – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Bangkok shutdown protests under way – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

Thai opposition protesters have stepped up their rallies, gathering in thousands in seven major intersections in the capital, in their attempt to “shutdown” of Bangkok to ultimately unseat Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The demonstrators want the embattled prime minister to step down to make way for an appointed government that would oversee electoral reforms to curb the political dominance of her billionaire family and tackle a wider culture of money politics.

Thai anti-government protesters set to paralyse Bangkok

Thousands of flag-waving protesters, some wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Bangkok Shutdown”, massed at strategic points in the city on Monday, including outside a major shopping mall that was set on fire during deadly political unrest in 2010.

“We will fight regardless of whether we win or lose. We will not compromise or accept negotiation,” protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban told crowds at a rally late on Sunday.

The firebrand opposition politician – who faces a murder charge in connection with a deadly military crackdown on political protests when he was deputy prime minister in 2010 – was set to lead a march through the city centre later on Monday.

But it was still unclear how much support he would enjoy among city residents, some of whom voiced fears that the action would hurt their livelihoods.

“Of course it affects me – I’m very stressed,” said hair salon owner Tong, 69. “No customers are coming now as my regular customers cannot drive here.”

Also on Monday, Shinawatra invited leaders of anti-government protesters and political parties to discuss an Election Commission proposal to push back the date of the snap election she called from February 2, a senior aide said.

Ministers have until now said a delay would be impossible under the constitution, but the Election Commission has said it could be pushed back and one member has suggested May 4.

Army deployed

Authorities say they are ready to declare a state of emergency if there is fresh unrest, and roughly 20,000 police and soldiers will be deployed for security.

But they have not tried to stop the demonstrators taking over parts of the city in the run-up to the February 2 elections, which they have set out to disrupt.

My generation is fed up with corruption in the country. We don’t care who will lead it in the future. Just as long as they are not corrupt.

Marisa Buerkle, anti-government protester,

The protesters have vowed to stop officials going to work and cut off power to key state offices as part of the shutdown efforts, which authorities have warned could lead to further bloodshed.

“My generation is fed up with corruption in the country,” Marisa Buerkle, an anti-government protester, told Al Jazeera. “We don’t care who will lead it in the future. Just as long as they are not corrupt.”

Eight people, including a policeman, have been killed and dozens injured in street violence since the protests began over two months ago.

The civil strife is the worst since 2010, when more than 90 people were killed in street clashes between pro-Thaksin protesters and the military.

“It’s going to be very volatile,” said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a former Thai diplomat and associate professor at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at Japan’s Kyoto University.

He said there was a risk of “political violence”, with protesters under pressure to achieve their objective of removing the government before the election, which would probably return Yingluck and her party to power.

“In a way there is no turning back for the protesters, they have come too far,” he added.

The current political crisis is the latest chapter in a saga of political instability and periodic unrest that has gripped Thailand since Yingluck’s older brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by royalist generals seven years ago.

The billionaire tycoon-turned-politician, who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption, has large electoral support particularly in northern Thailand, where he is adored for a swathe of popular policies.

But he is reviled among the country’s elites and by many in the Bangkok middle class and Thai south, who see him as authoritarian and accuse him of buying votes.

The protesters want an appointed “people’s council” to run the country and oversee vaguely defined electoral reforms, such as an end to alleged vote buying, before new elections are held in about a year to 18 months.

The impasse has revived fears of a judicial or military ousting of the government, in a country which has seen 18 actual or attempted coups since 1932.

Bangkok to see troop influx for protest – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Bangkok to see troop influx for protest – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

Increased security presence meant to prevent violence in planned “shutdown” of Thai capital by demonstrators.

Thailand has experienced periodic violence since the overthrow of Yingluck’s brother seven years ago [AFP]
Troops will be deployed in the Thai capital next week for the planned “shutdown” of Bangkok by demonstrators trying to overthrow the government.

The government is mobilising 14,880 police and soldiers for the mass rally, officials said on Wednsday.

“Our goal is to prevent any violence or clashes,” national police spokesman Piya Uthayo said in a televised briefing.

Officials say the government is ready to declare a state of emergency if needed to deal with any unrest, following several outbreaks of street violence in which eight people, including a policeman, have been killed and hundreds wounded.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called February elections following weeks of opposition street protests.

Yingluck’s government still enjoys strong support and is expected to win the election if it goes ahead, but demonstrators have vowed to block the vote,and say they will occupy the capital from January 13 until they topple the government.

Worst strife since 2010

Critics say the protesters want to provoke fresh clashes in the hope of triggering a military coup on the pretext of restoring order- an accusation the demonstrators deny.

The demonstrators- primarily southerners,urban elite,middle-class and royalists- want an unelected “people’s council” to run the country.

Thailand has been periodically shaken by political bloodshed since Yingluck’s older brother Thaksin Shinawatra was toppled by royalist generals in a coup seven years ago.

The recent civil strife is the worst since 2010, when more than 90 people were killed in a bloody military crackdown on pro-Thaksin Red Shirt protests under the previous government.

Ex-deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban was due in court Wednesday to face a murder indictment over those deaths, but he asked for another postponement because he is leading the current protests.

Thai anti-government protest turns deadly – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Thai anti-government protest turns deadly – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

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.

Amnesty law

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.

 

Thailand Police & Military Step Aside As Anti-Government Protesters Reach PM’s Office; Declare Victory | Zero Hedge

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…

 

@W7VOA

However, we would be surprised if the regime just allowed itself to be overthrown:

Average:Select ratingPoorOkayGoodGreatAwesome

 

Thai protests escalate amid violence – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Thai protests escalate amid violence – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

Tension continues to rise in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, after the dispersal of red-shirted government supporters following deadly clashes with opposition demonstrators.

Riot police fired tear-gas at protesters trying to force their way into the office compound of the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, and Bangkok’s police headquarters on Sunday.

Reporters saw anti-government protesters trying to destroy concrete barriers outside Government House. Police fired tear gas and water cannons to push them back. Separately, police drove back another crowd of protesters at the Bangkok police headquarters.

About 150 nervous-looking government supporters remained at Rajamangala Stadium in northeastern Bangkok early on Sunday morning, waiting for transport, Al Jazeera Online’s Robert Kennedy reported.

An estimated 50,000 Red Shirts had converged on the site the night before.

Government officials have confirmed that four people died and 58 others sustained injuries in Saturday’s violence.

Leader of anti-government protests calls for escalation

 

The government supporters had been ordered to leave the stadium by Red Shirt leader Thida Thavornseth, who said it remained too dangerous after a night of violence between the rival groups.

The stadium was littered with plastic bags, and water and beer bottles, amid the heavy stench of rotting garbage and urine.

“Our leaders told us to go home because they were too worried that people would be killed or injured,” said 56-year-old Aree Sawangjai, who travelled from the neighbouring province of Samut Sakorn to support the government amid the protests.

Outside the stadium, students from Ramkhamhaeng University opposed to the Red Shirts and the government blocked off roads to the area.

Lorries carrying medical workers were parked nearby on alert.

Across the city, anti-government protesters stormed a police sports complex on Sunday morning, amid plumes of tear gas, as Yingluck was swept away to safety by security forces.

She was now in a secure location which will remain undisclosed, an aide told Reuters news agency.

Siege of ministries

Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from Bangkok on Sunday, said the dispersal of the Red Shirts may embolden the yellow-shirted opposition protesters.

“The anti-government group plan to take over 10 government facilities, and say today is the day that the government will fall,” he said.

The protesters have been occupying several government ministries for the past week.

On Sunday morning, they took control of broadcaster Thai PBS, according to reports.

At the Royal Thai Police headquarters, several thousand protesters were blowing whistles and screaming at riot police behind a razor-wire barricade, Al Jazeera Online’s Kennedy said.

“About 20 police officers who cordoned off Rama 1 Road were challenged by some 100 angry demonstrators. ‘Go away slaves. Go away,’ they shouted. Officers retreated across the street, satisfying the crowd, though taunts and jeers continued,” he said.

The demonstrators are seeking to topple Yingluck’s government, which they believe serves the interests of her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled as prime minister by a 2006 military coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power.

Yingluck’s administration had been attempting to push through an amnesty bill, which many here believe would facilitate Thaksin’s return to power.

 

Thai Capital Plagued By the Biggest Anti-Government Protests in Years | Zero Hedge

Thai Capital Plagued By the Biggest Anti-Government Protests in Years | Zero Hedge.

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 protests, Democracy Monument

 

Thai anti-government protests at Democracy Monument

 

Thai anti-government, anti-corruption protests at Democracy Monument, Sunday, 24 November 2013

 

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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