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Thursday, November 28, 2013

trouble in Thailand.... Yingluck Shinawatra survives vote of confidence

Siam is in trouble….  The Kingdom of Thailand is located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia.  It is a constitutional monarchy, headed by King Rama IX, the ninth king of the House of Chakri, who, having reigned since 1946, is the world's longest-serving current head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history. Had earlier posted about the person with the title - "Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitalathibet Ramathibodi Chakkrinaruebodin Sayamminthrathirat Borommanatbophit" –the title of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.  The kings in the current Chakri dynasty of Thailand are often referred to as Rama.   

Thailand is the world's 50th largest country in terms of total area – the good looking Yingluck Shinawatra, leader of the Pheu Thai Party is the current Prime Minister following the 2011 elections. The contest was mainly between the ruling Democrats of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the opposition Pheu Thai. 

Thailand is in turmoil as there are reports of thousands of anti-government demonstrators surrounding more official buildings amid the highest tensions the country has seen since deadly unrest three years ago.  Some media reports put that the number of demonstrators, led by the opposition Democrat Party, has declined from the huge gathering of roughly 100,000 people that assembled in Bangkok on Sunday. Certain sections of some roads in Bangkok have been shut down because of the number of protesters camping out and spilling into the street.

Amid the tensions on the streets, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra faced a no-confidence motion in parliament put forward by the opposition  in an attempt to unseat the government through legal means. Critics of the Thai prime minister accuse her of being a puppet of her older brother Thaksin, a deeply polarizing figure who was removed from power by the military while in New York in 2006. He has since lived in exile, except for a brief return in 2008, and was convicted by Thai courts for corruption and sentenced in absentia to two years in prison later that year. The demonstrations have hit a crescendo as demonstrators surrounded the foreign ministry, as well as the agriculture and interior ministries.

Yingluck has said authorities will "absolutely not use violence" to disperse the demonstrators. But the situation is delicate after Thai police issued an arrest warrant against protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban. The current protests have reanimated the tensions along Thailand's political fault lines -- Thaksin Shinawatra's mostly rural support base on one side, the Bangkok-based elite and middle classes on the other. The same division left the country wracked with turbulence for four years after the 2006 coup, culminating in a 2010 army crackdown on Thaksin supporters that left more than 90 dead. The current protests are in response to a government-backed amnesty bill that could have extended a pardon to Thaksin Shinawatra and opened the door for his return to Thailand.

Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister has dominated the country's political scene for more than a decade despite going into exile after his ouster in a 2006 coup. Thaksin, is a deeply polarizing figure -- a billionaire telecommunications mogul who built his political power on policies popular with Thailand's rural villagers. He founded Advanced Info Service, Thailand's most successful mobile phone operator. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is under pressure after widespread anger over its recent failed attempt to pass a bill that could have granted amnesty to Thaksin and others.

The demonstrations are bringing instability once again to Thailand, a key regional economy and popular tourist destination. Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister under the previous Democrat-led government, has said the demonstrations "will not stop until Thaksin's regime is wiped out. Opposition to Thaksin and Yingluck is strongest among the urban elites and middle class. That means the capital; while Thaksin's traditional support comes from the populous rural areas of north and northeast of Thailand.

Today there is news that Thailand’s embattled prime minister easily survived a no-confidence vote in  Parliament today[28.11.13]. Lawmakers in Bangkok voted 297 to 134 against unseating Yingluck Shinawatra. The motion never had a chance of succeeding, though, because her party and its allies hold a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives. The present protests represent the biggest threat yet to Yingluck’s administration, and they have raised fears of fresh political violence in the divided Southeast Asian nation.

So far they have been peaceful. Yingluck has repeatedly said she wants to avert violence and offered to negotiate an end to the crisis. Security forces have not even fired tear gas to prevent protesters from forcing the closure of multiple government offices ~ but things are not well for Thailand and for Yingluck Shinawatra

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

28th Nov. 2013.

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