Thursday, December 26, 2013

Why are the protests happening in THAILAND ?
  • A failed attempt last month by the ruling Pheu Thai Party to push an amnesty bill through parliament which would have pardoned all those involved in political conflict in recent years. 
  • Protestors believe the bill would have allowed former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return from exile.


Who is Thaksin?
  • He's a deeply polarizing figure -- a billionaire telecommunications mogul who built his political power on policies popular with Thailand's rural villagers. 
  • His success ruffled a lot of feathers among the country's established elites, and critics accused him of corruption and autocratic rule. 
  • He was prime minister between 2001 and 2006, when the military deposed him in a bloodless coup.

What happened in 2010?
  • Thaksin's ouster spurred the protest movement that developed over the years into the widespread "red shirt" demonstrations that occupied upscale parts of Bangkok in 2010. 
  • By that stage, the movement had broadened to represent other issues, including resentment at the military's involvement in politics and economic inequality. 
  • The crackdown by security forces on the red shirts resulted in clashes that left around 90 people dead. 
  • It has been described as the worst civil violence in Thailand's history, and the country remains severely scarred by the experience.

Are the protests happening right now (2013) legitimate?
  • They are anti- THAKSIN protests contrary to those in 2010, which were pro-THAKSIN. 
  • While Thailand’s constitution allows political demonstrations, the protestors are trying to overthrow a democratically-elected government and replace it with an unelected “people’s council”.

Where is THAKSIN right now ?
  • He has been living in exile in a number of different places, most recently Dubai, while continuing to play an active role in Thai politics.
  • He briefly returned to Thailand in 2008. Later that year, he was convicted by a Thai court of corruption and sentenced in absentia to two years in prison over a controversial land deal. Courts have also frozen billions of dollars of his assets, but he is believed to still have a great deal of money held elsewhere.
  • He's also stayed heavily involved in Thai politics over the years, communicating with supporters via social media and video messages. With his younger sister in power since 2011, his influence remains strong. Critics say Yingluck is Thaksin's puppet, but she insists she has always been independent.

Who are the protestors?
  • Mostly metropolitan and middle-class, they are a loose coalition of anti-Thaksin groups associated with the opposition Democrat Party and likely backed by Thailand’s traditional elite: big businessmen, conservative generals, aristocrats and royal advisors.

Who supports the government?
  • Pheu Thai’s populist policies ensure it commands huge support in the densely-populated rural north and northeast of Thailand and among the urban working-class.
  • So even if re-elections happen they are again going to win the elections !!!

Why is Thaksin such a divisive figure?
  • Protestors view Thaksin and the Yingluck government as hopelessly corrupt and as a challenge to the authority of Thailand’s revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

What is likely to happen next?
  • Questions remain over the ability of Yingluck's government to maintain order in the capital and weather the heavy political pressure in Parliament. 
  • Some observers are concerned that government supporters, tens of thousands of whom rallied in Bangkok on Sunday, could clash with opposition demonstrators.
  • Yingluck has said authorities would "absolutely not use violence" to disperse the demonstrators.
  • Even if Yingluck survives the "no confidence" motion against her, the situation appears unlikely to calm down soon.

What is the latest news ?

·  Thailand's government has rejected calls to delay February's election, amid increasingly violent protests in which a policeman has been shot dead.
·   The Electoral Commission urged the postponement over safety fears for candidates on the campaign trail.
·      But government officials said parliament was already dissolved so there was no legal reason for a delay.
·  The protesters want the government to stand down and be replaced by an unelected "people's council".

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