Thai PM Yingluck Dissolves Parliament, but Tensions Remain High

Yellow Shirt protesters in Bangkok determined to oust Thailand’s first female Premier

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Dylan Martinez / Reuters

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrives for an interview with foreign media at the Government House in Bangkok on Dec. 7, 2013

Updated: 3:27 a.m. E.T., Dec. 9, 2013

Facing large protests and calls for her resignation, embattled Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved parliament on Monday to pave the way for fresh elections that she will likely win again.

But with Yellow Shirt demonstrators repeatedly rejecting offers for a return to the polls, this move is unlikely to placate the hordes seeking to oust Thailand’s first female Premier. Yingluck has proposed Feb. 2 as the date for the new ballot.

(MORE: Thailand’s Color War: Why Red Hates Yellow)

On Monday, the eerie calm that reigned in Bangkok over the King’s birthday on Dec. 5 melted away, as protesters redoubled their efforts to rid the country of Yingluck and the political influence of her family.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban was in typically bombastic form, calling for a “final push” starting at 9:39 a.m. (the Thai word for nine is a homonym for “go forward”). On Sunday, all 153 of his former lawmaker colleagues in the opposition Democrat Party resigned to join the protests.

“We’ve been waiting for the government to show its responsibility and return power to the people so the country can start afresh,” Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva told assembled media. In place of the government 15 million Thais elected in a landslide in July 2011, he advocates a “people’s council” of appointed “good people” to lead the Southeast Asian nation. The proposal underscores the political gulf between the Thaksin family’s Red Shirt supporters — largely the rural poor — and the Yellow Shirt backers of the ironically named Democrat Party, who are mostly royalists, aristocrats and urban elites.

An arrest warrant for Suthep, who left the opposition Democrat Party last month to lead the current protests, has been issued on a charge of treason. He could face life imprisonment or even the death penalty if convicted.

“Sometimes when I listen to Suthep I wonder what it is he’s hoping to actually achieve,” Nicholas Farrelly, a Southeast Asia specialist at Australian National University, tells TIME. “He’s a contradictory and somewhat unpredictable figure.”

(MORE: Thai Police Seek to Calm Bangkok Protests as King’s Birthday Nears)

Suthep vowed to hand himself in to authorities if sufficient numbers did not join his cause on Monday. Police chief Adul Saengsingkaew announced that he expected from 70,000 to 100,000 people to march in Bangkok.

The initial pretext for the protests, which have now ensnared the sprawling Thai capital for over a month, was an amnesty bill that would have allowed the return to Thailand of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s brother who was sentenced to two years in jail for corruption following his ousting in a military coup in 2006.

The legislation failed to pass the parliamentary upper house and appears shelved for the time being. Nevertheless, the mere fact that it was proposed has fortified accusations that Yingluck is a stooge for her politically divisive sibling. The same accusations arose over her recent attempt to alter the Senate’s current half-elected, half-appointed form in favor of a more democratic composition — a move that would have consolidated her power. (A clique of military generals determined the current makeup in 2007 as a way of wing clipping the Thaksin clan.)

The unrest comes just as Thailand is gearing up for peak tourist season. Some 34 governments are now warning against travel there.

MORE: Thailand’s Democrat Party Is Hilariously Misnamed

43 comments
musashi
musashi

In response to PearB's and Teddy525's claim that: Thaksin is corrupted and convicted:


From 2006 to 2011, for 5 long years, the junta and the junta puppets (Democrat Party) could only find Thaksin guilty of a conflict of interest (by a court setup by Thaksin's enemies). That "conviction" was made by a kangaroo court made up of judges and committees supervised by coup makers.

The Assets Scrutiny Committee (a critical junta-established agency) recommended legal action against the citizens' elected government PPP (and Thaksin) without hearing 300 defense witnesses or evidence. Kaewsan Atibodhi (ASC’s secretary) even publicly proclaimed "Evidence and witnesses are useless!" (Bangkokpost 9 April 2008). After which, the Constitution Court ruled that the ASC's work, undertaken under junta rules, was legal (Bangkokpost 1 July 2008).

Being full time Thaksin voyeurs and all-knowing about matters regarding Thaksin, the royalists should have plenty of evidence right? Surprisingly not, as we see them trolling day after day accusing Thaksin of crimes, but being unable to produce an iota of evidence to support their verbal incontinence.

musashi
musashi

In response to Teddy525's claim that Thailand was corrupted by Thaksin:

A terrible monster has besieged Thailand for almost 70 years.

This monster’s name is called Corruption (aka Monarchy).

And this hideous creature has 3 legs, each with a name: 1. Army 2. Judiciary 3. Democrat Party (useless middle leg)

These legs have kicked out democratically elected governments over 20+ coups. These legs trampled on people’s rights with 18 charters/constitutions, making the country hard to govern, equality non-existent and justice hard to enforce.

This monster’s offspring can be seen everywhere – from corrupted judges, to corrupted police, corrupted politicians, to corruption in every aspect of society. 

The only way to remove corruption is to have laws that apply to each and every human being who are citizens of Thailand (whether he is a king, or a beggar). No king or privy councilor should be exempted from laws, or should be allowed to manipulate laws through coups. When we have a good constitution that applies to all, we can then have those laws enforced for the good of the nation.

DennisP
DennisP

Musashi: Your cover was already blown in the last Times article. Would you like us to do it again? You blog for Thaksin and you know it darn well that I have NOT come in with a clean conscience.  Do not waste your time and be a productive member of society. Your kids will be more proud of you that way. Salute!

musashi
musashi

In response to PearB's claim that: Yingluck is a puppet

Everybody knew that when they voted for PTP, they voted for Thaksin. There is absolutely no confusion in there.

However, Yingluck is certainly better than that draft dodging Abhisit who couldn't even win an election despite using tanks to stage a coup, using machine guns to massacre 92 and maim 2,000 just to keep power. That spineless creep even enlisted Gen Anupong to get the army to 'help voters love' the government (The Telegraph 18 Dec 2008). 

For someone groomed from young to be a political star, and to be beaten flat by a woman he called a rookie and publicly derided her, is indeed pathetic. Abhisit is an example of a good education wasted on a person of poor character.

And in case you look down on the uneducated:

Let me remind you that history books show that American democracy leaders in the early days - eg. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, do not have formal education. You can hardly find a school at the frontiers in those days.

America's democracy, led by uneducated folks, lasted from Independence day in 1776 till today - far longer than any contemporary elitist dictatorships.

If the uneducated are "susceptible" to propaganda, then it was much worse for the educated ones educated with propaganda, imagery and constricted thinking (like those royalists in Thailand).


Justinwyo
Justinwyo

I don't get it.  What are the protesters protesting about? I see the banters expressing "fight for freedom", "peace", fight corruption, love Thailand, fight Taksin, etc...

What freedom are they talking about?  All the protesting friends that I know in Thailand are pretty freedom to do what they want.  Many of them travel abroad several times a year.  Some of them don't work and are just enjoying life.  What freedom are they fight ing for?

Fight corruption and fight Taksin?  Ok, surely he or his family is not the only corrupt people in Thailand.  What about the 1000's before and after this.  More protests?  I doubt that it's really about Taksin.

Is it a photo op to get on fb? 

WalterZiobro
WalterZiobro

"The proposal underscores the political gulf between the Thaksin family’s Red Shirt supporters — largely the rural poor — and the Yellow Shirt backers of the ironically named Democrat Party, who are mostly royalists, aristocrats and urban elites."

What we have here is a classic elite/populist division in this country.  What is needed is NOT to overturn popular democracy, but a constitution and court system that protects minority rights - the minority here being the elitists.  This is actually the original meaning of the term "minority rights" - as used by Thomas Jefferson.  When he referred to "minorities" Jefferson was NOT talking about racial, religious, or ethnic minorities, but minorities of wealth and property.

PearB
PearB

It's not about the "yellow shirt protester". The majority of the protesters are not the "yellow shirt". We are an ordinary people who can not stand for this gorvernment anymore. Because of their legal curruption. This gorvernment tried to writed a legal to support their corruption and also Mr. Taksin, our former Prime Minister.

We all have the right to fight against, if someone who was the richest people in our country did not pay taxes after he sold his company's share ("AIS") to "Temasek", Singapore. How dare he? Even the poorest people have to pay taxes.

azmalhome
azmalhome

Thai PM Yingluck is really a genius, but problem is in Thailand all the time, educated peoples are so less yet. that's why the country always is going to face political crisis.  

http://azmalhome.wordpress.com/


stsInVA
stsInVA

It seems Thailand  protesters want someone like Kim Jong Un to be their premier. LOL .... With a committee or politburo to form their government.

A_Burmese
A_Burmese

This is one way ticket to a compete dictatorship, should The People Council is set up with appointed people - Can't believe the Democratic Party is despicably against everything it stands for. What is People council - Who is in charge!

talung2
talung2

Well....sitting here in my office at Asok station I can confirm that if these were only the Thai elite, royalists etc. then this is no longer the case.  Office workers, secretaries and all types of average middle class Thais are pouring into the streets to support the demonstrations.  Its simply amazing to watch on a Monday afternoon....


I can verify that in previous elections vote buying in the north was commonplace, but make no mistake about it, the northern Thais are very supportive of Thaksin regardless, his populist policies aimed at the northern vote are simply good politics.


Sadly the opposition democratic party has not reached out enough to bridge the divide.  its complicated here in Thailand and unless you are a Thai you can theorize all you want but you will never fully understand what it is like to be "Thai" or comprehend its politics.


Farang :)



ChinaLee
ChinaLee

Thailand's urban elite and royalists are attempting to impose a dictatorship in Thailand. I hope the United States government does everything possible to prevent a military- and monarchy-backed dictatorship (e.g. the "yellow shirt" dictatorship party).

The "red shirt" party of Thaksin and Yingluck have been elected by a clear majority of the Thai people in five different elections over a decade-long period. It is time for the urban elite and the royalists to respect the will of the Thai people.

The Thai parliament is elected by the Thai people. As a parliamentary democracy (like European countries), Yingluck was elected by Thailand's parliament to the position of prime minister. Let her do her job.

Stop trying to violently overthrow the legitimately-elected democratic government of Thailand, which is headed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra!

Jackie_Jack
Jackie_Jack

Twice the number of Yellow Shirts are people from all walks of life who do not tolerate abuse of power by the so-called elected government.

tisorns
tisorns

This is not a fight between yellow and white shirt groups. This is simply a political rally against a illegitimate government. The political rally is the government which rejects the core essence of democracy: respecting the majority while listening to the minority.

Teddy525
Teddy525

@musashi Very nice conceit...Tell thaksin that


How did Thaksin already became proven guilty of corruption and yet was able to leave the country. Does this disprove your idea that everybody should be equal? Do you think Thaksin is an exception? Is he above the law?


musashi
musashi

Don't assume you know me. Firstly, I am not a fan of Thaksin. Neither am I working for this magazine. Your utter stupidity in assuming that everyone who is not a PADocrat is with Thaksin is as ridiculous as your mouth looking like an orifice.

I write because I believe in meritocratic electoral democracy. I am not against a monarchy that knows its place in society (eg. England, Japan). But I am against a royalty that is blinded by greed, that assumed power indirectly by the murder of Rama VIII, that uses draconian Lese Majeste laws to prevent people from knowing his filthy wealth and dysfunctional family, who continues to utilize murderous ways to hold on to power, who trampled on the rights of the people and who utilizes imagery and propaganda to force love from people. Yes, I am talking about the Thai king.


Teddy525
Teddy525


@musashi "Everybody knew that when they voted for Thaksin", they all got money. "There is absolutely no confusion in there."


And at least George Washington and Abraham Lincoln loved their country and never created a corrupt government... can't say the same about Yingluck though.....

Teddy525
Teddy525

@Justinwyo Let's put this into YOUR perspective... Let's assume (not actually true... hypothetical) that the U.S. president used bribes to pay everyone to vote for him. And then later decides that he owns the country and can do anything he wants. (grant any law, create any budget, and bribe the police into murdering innocent people). Do you honestly believe that American citizens would stand for this for even one second? Same thing with Thailand 

musashi
musashi

Yellow shirt, green shirt, blue shirt, white masks, present Democrats, past Democrats.... they are all the same bunch of royalist (trying to appear as if they are from multiple segments of society).

( See 11 Nov 2013:  http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Chamlong-returns-to-lead-fight-30219249.html) Excerpts showing how the trouble maker Chamlong is yet again at the forefront. This guy was the secretary of Prem Tinsulanonda, and is involved in multiple massacre events since the 1970s (yet hiding behind his Dharma army religious cult):

"Chamlong Srimuang, a former leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy, on Monday announced that he will play a leading role in the planned rally with the People's Army to protest .. He said Sondhi Limthongkul, another former PAD leader, will not join the rally, citing tactical strategy as the reason. Sondhi, however, will have his Manager Group fully supporting the rally."

musashi
musashi

Do you ever trade shares on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET)? If you do, you know that your transactions on the stock exchange are exempt from capital gains tax (as per Revenue Department and Stock Exchange of Thailand regulations). This is why Thaksin did not have to pay tax. 

And he is not alone. Ask the Chearavanont family if they had ever paid any tax for trading and transferring their shares among family members.

Teddy525
Teddy525

@azmalhome First off, according to your profile, YOU are from Malaysia... so what credentials does that give you to be more knowledgeable on this topic than a Thai person? I strongly suggest that you do more research before you make such a statement. In what ways has Yingluck and her family done anything for the country besides compile the national debt? She is simply being controlled by her brother Thaksin, who has basically bought over the entire country through corruption!!! Where is your evidence of the benefits she brought to the country?? Furthermore, 2 million EDUCATED people protested in the streets of Bangkok for something which they strongly believed in. Do you honestly believe that 2 million people would get it all wrong? This group also includes deans from the biggest universities in Thailand, famous lawyers, doctors, etc. (Besides, you also have to add the Thais living overseas who also know the real truth outside of the country and are in support of the yellow shirts). And who does Yingluck have on her side again? Oh yeah...the poor, uneducated people in Thailand who live off bribes and Thaksin's corruption (Not that I have anything against them, but they shouldn't be tricked into this government corruption and propaganda just like another citizen in the country)... so I'm sorry, but "Yingluck's a genius?" yeah.. didn't think so...

iamJing
iamJing

@azmalhome The reason there's so much ignorance is that those who have it are so eager to share it.

PearB
PearB

And. what about "educated people are so less yet"

Our country has both educate people and uneducated people same as the severals countries even the USA.

PearB
PearB

She's just a puppet of our former prime minister and she is not "a genuis". Because she never think by herself. Everything she has expressed, came from her back up team.

Ask Thai people before called Miss Yingluck as "a genuis".

Bkkalien
Bkkalien

It may be LOL for you, but if you come out of your little box of stereotypes and think outside of it, you'll know that what you said is not true at all. There was an all out, sincere effort to write a constitution with people's participation back in 1997. What Thaksin did was to exploit the loopholes in that constitution to his advantage. The 2006 coup happened because the discontent over the similar (worse?) abuse of power that his sister's government is carrying out now, threatened to spill over into a head-on conflict between yellow shirts and red shirts.


Since then the people have learned their lessons, well, most of them, at least. That's why you see such big numbers now than in the past (if you see the actual pictures and videos of the protests rather than believe the numbers quoted by Thai government authorities and in much of the Western press).

Kim Jong Un would compare more closely to Thaksin, whose hold on Thai politics is what the people are trying to remove.


Bkkalien
Bkkalien

You should have seen the faces of the people in other groups as well. Of course, the Silom/Asok groups are local Bangkokians, mostly office-goers and businesspeople (that's why they gather there every time, instead of at the Democracy Monument). There were people from all walks of life and from all regions. 

True, Thaksin has a hold on the people in the North and the Northeast (of Thailand), but what he did for them was mostly paint a rosy picture, and hand a few goodies (from public coffers, of course), to make them feel that he is making good on the promises. Their lot hadn't increased significantly during his six years in power. What probably increased was their indebtedness. The Yingluck administration came to power with similar promises--higher minimum wages, rice scheme, to name a few--and see what has happened with these schemes. Also, these people have been kept in dark about what's really happening in the country. Could you explain otherwise why most of the government controlled free tv channels failed to report about these huge protests?

SteveInCM
SteveInCM

Incidentally, IMO you make some good points but your narrow focus on Thaksin's populist policies being "aimed at the northern vote" distorts the bigger picture - which is that those same policies are very popular in large parts of Bangkok as well as in Central Thailand. Come to that, they're popular in the south - even if not enough in themselves to disrupt the Democrat party's well-established control of those provinces.

SteveInCM
SteveInCM

@talung2 "I can verify that in previous elections vote buying in the north was commonplace..."

Have your travels taken you elsewhere to see the same - for example to constituencies in the southern Democrat heartlands? There or in the north or elsewhere, did you note that it's commonplace for all main parties' candidates to distribute cash as a "gift of consideration" as it's widely known? Did you consider that with, say, three candidates each handing out cash to one voter who has one (constituency) vote that two of those candidates will be disappointed? The usual (and entirely logical/predictable) upshot is that the now much-flattered (and better off) voter pockets all three gifts and then votes for whichever candidate he/she chooses. It's very Thai. Incidentally, the total of those gifts (typically 500 baht each - i.e. 1,500 in my very common example) makes for quite an incentive for people to return to their registered home to vote... the relatively low cost of the trip handsomely outweighed by the income from it.


You (and others) may benefit from reading the detailed analysis to be found at http://asiancorrespondent.com/116883/baker-and-pasuk-false-bote-buying-claims-are-made-to-undermine-electoral-democracy/ - including following the links.



tisorns
tisorns

@ChinaLee A democratically elected government cannot justify its legitimacy by simply saying they were granted approval of the majority of the votes. Never before in Thai history has the people have been suffering from this much conflict, mainly instigated, or even supported by this pathetic government. Your comment clearly shows that you did not take enough time to carefully analyze the intentions and developments of the current political rally in Thailand. 

buttercake
buttercake

@ChinaLee You obviously do not know what you are talking about. Yingluck's government and party was elected because they BOUGHT votes (around 1,000,000 baht per "red shirt" village). Please please please, it is widely known here and I, being here for more than 13 years, will be VERY happy once these corrupted red/Taksin will be gone.

SteveInCM
SteveInCM

Feel free to define or at least explain what you mean by "so-called elected government". Did it or didn't it win 265 seats out of 500 in the 2011 election? Was it or wasn't it joined by other parties in a coalition amounting to some 300 seats out of that 500?

musashi
musashi

Where is your evidence? If there are any corruption going on with Yingluck, we should expect Abhisit to bring up the facts right?

It is clear that Abhisit is a liar. Heck, he even lied to dodge the army draft. And now he is trying to dodge the case for murdering 92 innocent civilians and maiming 2,000 with insurgency.


SteveInCM
SteveInCM

Bkkalien - Seeing as you raise the point about "such big numbers" of protesters - would you like to put a figure on them? Whatever that figure is, would you like to compare it with the 32.5 million valid votes cast in the 2011 election? Or with the 15.7 million who voted for the present government - never mind the additional numbers who voted for its coalition partners?


BTW "red shirts" (UDD) didn't exist at the time of the 2006 coup. Far from being the cause of the coup (as you incorrectly state), they formed in response to it - to oppose the military government which the coup organisers installed.

SteveInCM
SteveInCM

Feel free to name which of the several free-to-air TV channels is actually "controlled" by the government. I can think of just one - NBT (operated by the government's PR department. I regularly scanned the others - and all carried coverage (though perhaps not as wall-to-wall as you'd like?). There are literally 1,000s of radio stations. There are innumerable newspapers - many of them actively hostile to the present government. Thus, your picture of people somehow being "kept in the dark" just doesn't stand up to scrutiny or match the facts.

ChinaLee
ChinaLee

@tisorns @ChinaLee There is a legal procedure to follow. In the United States, the Republican Party tried to remove the democratically-elected Bill Clinton through politically-motivated impeachment proceedings. It fell flat. An assertion of "high crimes" by the Republicans did not make it true.

You do not remove a democratically-elected Thai prime minister through extra-judicial proceedings.

If you want to bring charges and attempt to remove Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, you must do it through an election or by following the proper legal procedure.

It is undemocratic to violently overthrow a fairly-elected democratic prime minister and attempt to impose a dictatorship.

musashi
musashi

Do you have evidence? Or did those numbers come out from your orifice?

ChinaLee
ChinaLee

@buttercake Asserting corruption does not make it true. Prove it in a court of law.

Teddy525
Teddy525

@musashi Every rebuttal you have come up with brings us back to square one. Shall we start this conversation all over again? Let me make this clear: Because the government is corrupted and utilizes propaganda, people like you, who live in Thailand (I'm assuming) are entirely unaware of the "evidence and facts that the Democratic party does not have." Start to open your eyes and analyze the news intelligently. Millions of people are coming out on the streets without someone to pay them. When millions of educated people come out on the streets, it's obvious that's somethings wrong with the government.


In fact, Natawoot (the name of the minister I was talking about) told all the red shirts during the protests two years ago to come out and bring bottles of gasoline and burn them all and claimed that he would be responsible for it... and now he's a prime minister (and rich!) What kind of politician becomes that rich in just two years? Where else could your money come from???


And I did not say ANYWHERE in my comment that I was looking down on poor people. I just don't want them to be corrupted and fooled along with the rest of the country. 


PS: Here's evidence for your corruption research.


http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/results/

musashi
musashi

Isn't it surprising that you have all the evidence and facts that the Democrat Party does not have?

Give us names of that person, what he had done to be rich. Submit that evidence to the NACC and to Democrat Party so he could be arrested for corruption.

PS: Or are you complaining that a capable poor man cannot be a minister and cannot be paid a minister's salary? Do you know the caliber of Abhisit's cabinet? Even the owner of Poseidon (Thailand's biggest sex joint that made money from the suffering of women and children) can be a commerce minister under Abhisit. And his ICT minister who knows nothing about computer was a nurse. 


Don't be a hypocrite by looking down on poor people.


Teddy525
Teddy525

@musashi where is your source? just so you know, all that happened when thaksin was in power, not abhisit.


and there is clear evidence of corruption. In the past two years, her corrupted government interfered with the supply chain for the market price for the rice in Thailand and, even the guy who used to be the red shirt leader, got promoted in her government and became rich overnight (he went from being a poor person to becoming the minister of commerce). Rags to riches in seconds? Doubt it... 


Furthermore, it is clear when the government refuses to participate in the anti-corruption agency. 

Teddy525
Teddy525

@ChinaLee That depends... if "fairly-elected" means the leader paying everyone to vote for her... 

Teddy525
Teddy525

@ChinaLee @buttercake lol... and what do you do when the court is corrupted too??? Come on, we're talking about a guy who received a masters degree in Criminal justice... you think he doesn't know how to be one too?

Bkkalien
Bkkalien

@ChinaLee@buttercake The problem is when it's proven in the court of law, the 'victims' claim the courts were set up by military dictatorship following the coup. The two Thaksin parties (Thai Rak Thai and People's Power Party (Phalang Prachachon)) were disqualified and their executives banned for five years on account of malpractices concerning vote-buying. The argument that the courts that handed the guity verdicts were set up by military junta leading the 2006 actually does not hold much water on closer scrutiny, because the revised constitution was approved after a nationwide referendum.


Despite the fact that Yingluck's only qualification to become the PM was that she is the sister of Thaksin, her government was tolerated for two years. But the corruption and the lack of responsibility shown by her and her government has reached such obscene proportion (even by Thai standards) that people have been fed up. The amnesty bill to wash off Thaksin's sins was the last straw. 

The arguments about 'democratically elected' government and comparisons with the US and other Western democracies are somewhat lame, because the rampant vote-buying, the open and shameless corruption, and an unabashed trampling of the existing systems of checks and balances that happen in Thailand has no parallels in any respectable democracy, Western or otherwise.


The people are already fighting hard against a corrupt government, their corrupt police force that is controlled by Thaksin like an army, the thug elements in the red shirt cadre and what not. Not to mention the Western media which not only pooh-poohs the sincere efforts to reform a corrupt system, but also seem to twist the truth by giving false data. Those who have seen today's and 24 November masses would agree that the numbers were far higher than any time in Thai history.