Thaksin Talks to Bloomberg about Yingluck, the Amnesty Bill, and Lèse-Majesté

Bloomberg interviewed Thailand’s former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and has run two stories that are worth a look.

The pieces are here:

Former Thai Premier Thaksin Shinawatra said his sister’s government will avoid conflicts like those that led to his ouster in a 2006 coup, even as it presses ahead with efforts to curb the power of the courts.

…and here:

Any changes to a Thai law that protects Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej and other royal family members from insults should come from his advisers, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said.

Yellow Shirts Say They’ll Rally If Amnesty Bill Not Withdrawn

There are stories on this news today from The Bangkok Post:

The yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has warned the government that it will stage a mass rally if the reconciliation bills are not withdrawn when the parliament reconvenes on Aug 1.

…as well as The Nation:

The People’s Alliance for Democracy Tuesday called on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranon to withdraw the contentious reconciliation bills to ease the political tensions.

“If the bills are still on the agenda for the next Parliament session convening on August 1, PAD will stage a rally,” PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan said after a meeting of the group’s leaders.

…and MCOT:

Yellow Shirt activists of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) threatened Tuesday to rally unless the reconciliation bills currently before Parliament are withdrawn within seven days.

Two Pieces on The State of Thailand’s Amnesty Bills

Bloomberg today reports on the political situation here in Thailand:

Thailand’s ruling party warned democracy is under threat as its highest court moves to stop lawmakers from changing the constitution in a country that has suffered 18 coup attempts in the past eight decades.

The Constitutional Court has no right to prevent Parliament from voting on an amendment that would create a new body to rewrite the charter, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung told reporters yesterday. A judicial challenge to the legislators’ efforts could lead to the disbanding of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s party, the third time courts have disqualified elected allies of her brother Thaksin Shinawatra since he was ousted by the military six years ago.

“Did they fall asleep and didn’t know we got our power from the election?” Chalerm said, referring to judges on the nine-member Constitutional Court. “Don’t go too far. This is too much and no one can accept this.”

The dispute risks reigniting street protests pitting Thaksin supporters who have won five straight elections against opponents who accuse him of undermining the monarchy and subverting the legal system to allow his return from exile. Thai stocks dropped to a four-month low as consumer confidence fell for the first time in half a year in May because of escalating political strains and higher costs for food and oil.

And:

Another ‘‘judicial coup” may take place before street protests spin out of control, a possible pretext for another military intervention, according to Paul Chambers, director of research at the Southeast Asian Institute of Global Studies at Payap University in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand.

“If things continue as they are right now, then Yingluck’s days are numbered,” he said. “If Pheu Thai steps back and ends the attempts to change the constitution, then Yingluck can stay in office perhaps until her term is over.”

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial that ran in today’s paper, assesses things in a fairly hopeful manner.

The headline and sub-hed are: “Thailand’s Elites Reconcile: The problem of Thaksin’s return may finally be resolved.” Worth a read.

Yellow Shirts Protest Update: Next Week’s Bill Deliberation Cancelled

2012 06 02 yellow shirts front pages

A quick follow-up post on yesterday’s Yellow Shirt protests over the bill that could lead to Thaksin’s return…

Many people here in Thailand, as well as Thailand-watchers abroad, may well be thinking: Here we go again.

The WSJ reported yesterday:

Around 2,000 followers of the so-called Yellow Shirt movement swarmed around the Parliament building, preventing legislators from getting in. The action recalled the massive and sometimes violent political protests in recent years that at times destabilized business and tourism on one of Southeast Asia’s linchpin economies, and raised fears of a possible reprise in the weeks or months ahead.

Political analysts say Friday’s scenes show that a long-simmering question—the fate of Mr. Thaksin, who now lives in exile in Dubai—is coming to the boil, threatening a fragile détente between his supporters in the current government and the military and conservative bureaucrats who removed him from power in a bloodless coup in 2006.

And:

The siblings have made efforts to reconcile with the establishment forces that ousted Mr. Thaksin, say academics and Thailand analysts. Ms. Yingluck in particular has worked to build closer ties with military leaders and key establishment figures such as chief royal adviser, Prem Tinsulanonda, these people say. If the Yingluck government is intent on bringing Mr. Thaksin back to Thailand, they say, now is the time to push through the necessary legislation.

The story also touches on divisions in the Red Shirt camp and the prospects of the Yellow Shirts being able to organize sufficiently large protests going forward.

Reuters ran a story yesterday, as well.

AFP has this story today:

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Saturday warned the deeply divided kingdom faces a “cycle of violence” unless steps are taken towards reconciliation after years of civil unrest.

And finally, MCOT reports today:

House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont on Saturday decided to cancel next week’s parliamentary sessions regarding charter amendment and national reconciliation bills following recent chaos and disruption in the parliament.

Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol said Mr Somsak decided to suspend the planned meeting on June 5 to deliberate the charter amendment and the June 6-7 sessions on the proposed reconciliation bills.

Mr Charoen said the House Speaker will call a meeting of representatives from both the government and opposition next Tuesday to find solutions, and if there is still problem with the deliberation of the reconciliation bills, other pending bills may be raised for consideration instead.

Meanwhile, the Red Shirts themselves held a rally today at the Thunderdome arena, in Bangkok’s north.

This Tweet and image came through at 1:20 p.m. Bangkok time from @LyNGinG.

So, what comes next?

Will Yingluck and Pheu Thai continue to push for the bills’ passage, perhaps a week or two down the line? Or will they abandon their efforts for now?

Will the Yellow Shirts continue to block Parliament in an effort to derail voting?

Will the Red Shirts begin protesting again?

What if the vote goes ahead, and the bill is passed?

Image above: Today’s IHT and Bangkok Post front pages.

Yellow Shirts Protest at Thai Parliament

Just briefly, an update on the Thai parliament and the controversial reconciliation bills:

A vote was due to take place today, but the Parliament building was blocked this morning — and apparently continues to be blocked — by members of the PAD (yellow shirts) and the so-called multi-colored group.

The demonstrators’ intention is to stop a vote by preventing the ruling Pheu Thai lawmakers from entering the compound. It’s unclear when the vote will now occur.

Here are some photos I snapped from Thai TV a few hours ago.

Some MPs were forced to access the building via a hole in a fence:

2012 06 01 thai parliament

And here are some photos of the PAD/multi-colored protesters:

2012 06 01 thai parliament4

2012 06 01 thai parliament3

More recently, here’s a Tweet (via @RichardBarrow) and photo (via @LyNGinG) from 1:10 p.m. Bangkok time:

(Image: @LyNGinG.)

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