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Thailand protesters target ruling party headquarters

Posted by Rattana_S On November - 29 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Thai protesters are set to march on the ruling party headquarters, as anti-government rallies enter day six.

Demonstrators surrounded and occupied official buildings this week in an attempt to shut down the government.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra urged demonstrators to end the street protests, after surviving a no-confidence vote in parliament.

Security was tightened around the Pheu Thai party headquarters on Friday, according to reports.

“We are deploying two companies of police [around 300 officers] at Pheu Thai party headquarters after they asked for protection,” deputy national police chief Worapong Siewpreecha told AFP news agency.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former opposition politician, has rejected the government’s offer of talks and vowed to force the government to step down.

“We will not let them work anymore,” he said in a speech late on Thursday.

‘No political games’

During the demonstrations, which have been largely peaceful so far, participants have cut the electricity supply to the national police headquarters and forced the evacuation of Thailand’s top crime-fighting agency.

The protesters say Ms Yingluck’s government is controlled by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

Ms Yingluck has invoked special powers allowing curfews and road closures, and police have also ordered the arrest of Mr Suthep – but so far no move has been made to detain him.

In a televised address on Thursday, Ms Yingluck said the protesters should negotiate with the government.

“The government doesn’t want to enter into any political games because we believe it will cause the economy to deteriorate,” she said.

An estimated 100,000 opposition supporters protested in Bangkok on Sunday, although the numbers appear to have dropped significantly during the week.

Some reports expect turnout to rise again over the weekend.

The country is facing its largest protests since 2010, when thousands of “red-shirt” Thaksin supporters occupied key parts of the capital. More than 90 people, mostly civilian protesters, died over the course of the two-month sit-in.

Thai protesters force evacuation of top crime agency

Posted by Rattana_S On November - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Anti-government protesters have forced the evacuation of Thailand’s top crime-fighting agency, on the fourth day of street demonstrations.

The marchers, who want the government to step down, targeted a complex of government offices outside the city.

The protest leader said they wanted to shut down government ministries in a bid to cause disruption.

They accuse the government of being controlled by the prime minister’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra.

The BBC’s Lucy Williamson in Bangkok says the mood of the protesters is very friendly, as they and the government side shadow-box around each other.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s secretary general, Suranand Vejjajiva, told the BBC that there were no plans to use the army.

“We are reassured that the police can handle the situation as the protesters are peaceful and do not create any violence,” he said.

‘Seize city hall’

The protests are being led by former opposition Democrat Party lawmaker Suthep Thaugsuban, for whom police have issued an arrest warrant.

They began on Sunday and so far have targeted the finance, foreign and interior ministries, among others.

“Let the people go to every ministry that remains to make civil servants stop serving the Thaksin regime,” the Associated Press news agency quoted him as saying.

“Once you take over, civil servants can no longer serve the Thaksin regime. Brothers and sisters, go seize the city hall.”

Despite the arrest warrant, police made no attempt to detain him as he led protesters to government offices.

On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of protesters surrounded the Department of Special Investigations (DSI), which is Thailand’s equivalent of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The DSI is a particular target for the demonstrators – they accuse its chief of conducting partisan investigations against opponents of the government, says the BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok.

The DSI chief ordered his staff to leave as protesters surrounded the building, Reuters news agency said.

However, Mr Suranand said that the government house itself was secure and the government still functioning.

Government supporters were organising their own demonstrations around the country, he added.

Ms Yingluck – who on Monday invoked special powers allowing officials to impose curfews – said that the government would not use force against protesters.

“This is not the ‘Thaksin regime’, this is a democratically elected government,” she told media outside parliament.

The demonstrations are the biggest to hit Thailand since the violence in early 2010, when supporters of Mr Thaksin paralysed key parts of Bangkok.

More than 90 people, mostly civilian protesters, died over the course of the two-month action.

In the wake of those events, a government led by Ms Yingluck and the Pheu Thai party was elected, mostly by rural voters who benefited from Mr Thaksin’s policies.

But many urban and middle class voters are bitterly opposed to him.

They say he controls the current government from self-imposed overseas exile.

They have been angered by now-shelved political amnesty legislation that they say could have allowed his return without serving a jail sentence for corruption.

Until now, the government and the police have chosen not to confront the protesters, in the hope that the movement will run out of steam, our correspondent adds.

That is not happening yet, and protest leaders insist they will not stop until the government is forced from office and replaced by what they call a People’s Council.

But a more likely scenario would be a fresh general election – and the governing party, which has won the last five, would probably win again, our correspondent adds.

Busy week ahead for Yingluck

Posted by Rattana_S On October - 5 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

After meeting Chilean President Sebastian Pinera at Government House yesterday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will meet visiting Peruvian President Ollanta Humala Tasso today to discuss a Thai-Peru free-trade agreement, Government Spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said.

Tomorrow, Yingluck will fly to Bali to attend the 21st Apec Summit, where she will get to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.

On the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Yingluck will also meet the prime minister of Papua New Guinea and the chief executive of Hong Kong.

Then on Tuesday, she is scheduled to fly to Brunei to attend the 23rd ASEAN Summit, which will be held on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will come to Thailand to attend the opening ceremony of an exhibition on high-speed trains on Saturday. Then on Sunday, October 13, Yingluck will accompany Li to a One Tambon One Product (Otop) centre in her home town – Chiang Mai’s San Kamphaeng district.

PM defends performance in ‘challenging’ first year

Posted by Rattana_S On September - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

PRIME MINISTER Yingluck Shinawatra finally delivered her administration’s first-year performance declaration to Parliament yesterday, stressing that the period was filled with challenges and problems on many fronts, ranging from politics, society and natural disasters to the global economic downturn.

The premier defended her numerous official trips abroad, saying they were aimed at restoring investor confidence in Thailand and fostering greater investment and economic ties with foreign friends.

Since the government came to power in 2011, it has sought to pursue three key policies – rebalancing the economy to strengthen fundamentals, fostering national reconciliation on the basis on equality and preparing the country for integration under the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

Up to 70 per cent of the economy is dependent on exports so a stronger domestic consumption base needed to be built, while the gap between the rich and poor needed to be narrowed.

This was partly achieved by giving people greater access to capital and pushing for a seven-year major infrastructure investment programme including high-speed train routes.

However, the global economic outlook remains volatile and complex. Spending on flood-prevention measures has led to the cutting of budgets for some ministries although advent of the AEC should help boost trade and tourism.

Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said employment remained stable with a low unemployment rate and the introduction of a Bt300 minimum wage at the beginning of the year “went well”.

Appropriate measures have been introduced to expand the tax base and reduce farmers’ debts. Prices of 42 commodities remained under government control and the prices of 140 more commodities have been temporarily frozen.

“The reduction of company taxes has led to the private sector being more honest in their tax payments,” he said, adding that the first-car policy also enabled a million people to own a car, which was an important asset, and boosted their quality of life.

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva presented a starkly different view of the government’s 12-month performance, arguing that the administration had failed the people. He said independent figures pointed to Thailand losing competitiveness in all areas.

Petrol prices also became more expensive than what the government promised, causing hardship among the public, while the first-car and first-home schemes failed to boost the real economy. They had led instead to increasing debt.

“The prime minister must rethink how the economy is managed, because populist projects do not work and cannot strengthen the economy. It also created more risk,” he said.

Fiscal discipline was also necessary, he added.

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