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Peaceful street protests ease – Demonstrations in Bangkok are likely to subside as govt agrees to withdraw contentious bills

November 9, 2013 Destination Thailand, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Thailand moved quickly away from the edge of another political cliffhanger as massive street protests in the nations capital gripped Bangkok.

The Thai Prime Minister announced Thursday that MP’s had agreed to withdraw six bills from the house linked to the contentious Amnesty Bill that would allow upwards of 50,000 people to receive a blanket amnesty free from all punishment for corruption and political crimes committed from 2004 to 2013 including the PM’s brother – Thaksin Shinawatra. The proposed amnesty legislation was broadly seen as being designed to benefit the fugitive former prime minister, who lives abroad to avoid a two year jail term on an abuse-of-power conviction.image

Thaksin is considered the de facto leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party that was pushing the amnesty.

Groups of demonstrators gathered in different areas of Bangkok, including Asoke, Ratchadamnoen and around parliament, to voice their opposition to the government’s move to provide a blanket amnesty.

Cars and buses were blocked in the already over crowded metropolis with tens of thousands marching through Bangkok’s main thoroughfares.

The demonstrations were 100% peaceful and were a dramatic visual expression of the people’s anger at what senators described as ‘one of the worst pieces of legislation in Thai political history’. Sporting national flags, placards and whistles the colourful group effectively brought central Bangkok to a standstill, both politically and physically.

The Bangkok Post editorial today suggests Thaksin should scrap all thoughts of returning, saying Thailand doesn’t need him.

The next step? People have lost all confidence in this government. The Yingluck Shinawatra administration were tolerated for the past two years, but in Bangkok at least that has gone. Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn said the government has lost the people’s trust to the point where it is impossible to regain it. On the blanket amnesty bill, he said the public could not trust the government’s promise that it would not later revive and pass the bill into law if the Senate rejects it and sends it back to the House.

A dissolution of parliament as a possible solution, leaves many scratching their heads, as this will unlikely see a change in government (the opposing Democrat party’s popularity wanes outside of Bangkok) and may not be a way for the government to resolve the situation.

Observers suggest the senate need to quickly reject the proposed legislation and then the Yingluck government need to forget the Amnesty Bill altogether.

Written by: Andrew Wood

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