Thailand crisis: Thai Govt. declared state of emergency in Bangkok

The Thai government imposed a 60-day state of emergency in the capital, Bangkok, and the surrounding provinces to cope with unrest. The decree gives the government wide-ranging powers to deal with disorder.

  • It would suppress the anti-government protest that has blocked the parts of the capital and to take care of the situation and to enforce the law.
  • The emergency decree bans public gatherings, censor the news reports and imposition of curfew for next 60 days. The emergency measure came into effect from January 22, 2014.
  • To suppress the unrest of the country, the Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has already called-in for elections on February 2, 2014. 
Why are they protesting?
  • Protesters accused PM Yingluck Shinawatra (46), of being a puppet of her elder brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
  • Mr. Thaksin came into power in 2001 and won support among the rural poor for populist policies viz. microfinance schemes, subsidized fuel, universal health care, etc.
  • Though, the regard he received teased traditional elites, and he was accused of overshadowing well-regarded King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
  •  Finally, he was expelled by a military coup in 2006 and convicted of corruption in absentia, charges he insists were politically motivated.

The recent demonstrations began early November as opposition to a now shelved amnesty bill that would have allowed the billionaire telecoms mogul to return home a free man and united with some $1.2 billion in seized cash and assets. In other words, causes of the protest are

  • Proposed amnesty bill pardoning wrongdoings of all sides since 2004.
  • Influence of Thaksin Shinawatra on Thai politics.
  • Proposed amendment to the 2007 constitution making the Senate fully elected. 
What do the protesters want?
  • The protesters want to overthrow Yingluck’s democratically-elected government and replace it with an unelected “people’s council”.
  • They fear that the government has been buying votes with irresponsible spending pledges aimed at its support base – thereby creating a faulty democracy and harming the Thai economy.
  • Note: Thaksin-allied parties have won the last four elections, because of their rural support base.
What are the economic consequences?
  • The political unrest of the country has led the Thai government to issue an advisory for the tourists asking them to be alert and try to avoid the sites of protest.
  • At least 45 nations, viz. USA, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Brazil, etc, issued travel warnings because of the protests.
  • At present, hotel occupancy is around 50% compared with a seasonal norm of up to 90%.

Note: Thailand is a tourist Mecca that receives over 20 million foreign visitors annually, and Bangkok became the world’s most visited city in 2013, with 15.98 million international overnight visitors.

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