Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dead of innocent Children in Bangkok and Trat:
The Turning Point of the Crisis in Thailand?

Two innocent children died in Bangkok following a grenade attack near a Big C supermarket in Bangkok. This happened on Sunday, after the confrontation between the government forces of Yingluck Shinawatra and the antigovernment-protesters following Suthep Thaugsuban had become more and more violent. Before two five-year-old girls were killed when gunmen attacked a protest rally in Trat on Saturday night.

Now this:

"Talks underway"

writes Bangkok Post. Negotiations to end the political crisis between the government and the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) have started, Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said on his Facebook page on Tuesday. The former prime minister said he acted as a moderator in Monday's talks between Pheu Thai No 2 party-list candidate Somchai Wongsawat and Luang Pu Buddha Issara, a PDRC co-leader. Pheu Thai is the party behind Yingluck Shinawatra. He said the heart of Monday's talks was that both sides agreed to create a negotiation process that will lead to solutions to the crisis.
So there is some hope.

But in the night from Monday to Tuesday two people were slightly injured when the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) anti-government rally site in Lumpini was attacked for three hours shortly after midnight. According to reports, about 20 grenades were used to attack the area, as Bangkok Post reports. And anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said on Tuesday he will never negotiate with caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and accused her of "ordering her minions to murder children", reports Bangkok Post.

Meanwhile the government of Yingluck Shinawatra is trying to pay the rice farmers, to whom it owes 110 billion Bath. It plans to take 20 millions Bath from the central budget, reports The Nation. But Shinawatra's government is only the interims-government (so called caretaker government), after elections have been announced and hold. And this interims-government has limited borrowing and spending powers and needs therefore a ratification by the Election Commission for this payment.

Banks so far have not given credits to Shinawatras government for paying the rice farmers. When the Government Savings Bank announced a loan for that reason last week, savers rushed to withdraw their money. The loan then was stopped and the president of the bank resigned. Other private banks went so far, to inform the customers on the screens of ATMs, that they would not give a loan to the government for paying the rice farmers. Meanwhile, the Government Pension Fund said on Tuesday it would not buy government bonds, as The Nation reports. That illustrates, how less trust Shinawatra's government is enjoying. And the same newspaper also writes, that the rice-subvention-system of the Shinawatra-government is a death trap for government and farmers and says why.

So no one was wondering, as Thailand's army chief warned Monday the country risks "collapse" unless it pulls back from escalating violence. "As days go by, there will be more violence until it cannot be controlled," army chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha warned in a rare televised live speech. "If losses continue, the country will collapse for sure and nobody will win or lose," he said according to AFP. Prayut urged reconciliation and talks. He said troops are "ready to do their duty" but "do not want to use force and weapons to unnecessarily fight with the Thai people".

Thursday, February 20, 2014

4 people dead in Bangkok, 64 injured -
but nothing cleared in Thailand

One police officer and three civilians were killed and 64 injured as authorities tried to reclaim the anti-government protest site at Phan Fah Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok un Tuesday February 19 (see Bangkok Post).
But the try to clear the protests site by the government of Yingluck Shinawatra did clear nothing. On Wednesday strong protests were ongoing. After the protesters had blocked Government house, protest-leader Suthep Thaugsuban on Wednesday led about 20000 protesters to block Yingluck Shinawatra from entering the Office of the Defence Permanent Secretary at Muang Thong Thani, which she had been using for cabinet meetings, as Bangkok Post reported. The prime minister did not show up.
Suthep Thaugsuban, whom the police has orders to arrest, was able to talk to General Apichart Saengrungruang, director of the Defence Industry and Energy Centre. Suthep called for the armed forces to side with demonstrators to quickly wrap up the campaign to oust the prime minister. But General Apichart insisted on no military involvement in settling the conflict, saying that political problems should be resolved by political means (read Bangkok Post).
The anti-government movement scored a major victory on Wednesday when the Civil Court ruled in favour of protester Thaworn Senneam's petition, prohibiting the government from abusing the emergency decree to subvert people's right to peaceful and constitutional assembly. The court by a majority vote ruled that the government's Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) cannot use force to disperse the protest, as The Nation reports.
"We deserve better: it's time to restart Thailand", wrote the former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat Party, in the Financial Times. "Only someone credible and accepted by all sides can lead the reform process and manage the short transition to new elections in which everyone participates."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Rice Policy of Yingluck Shinawatra:
Now Government Savings Bank under pressure

Thailands Governments Savings Bank saw unusual cash-withdrawals on Monday, after the Bank had announced to indirectly loan funds to pay farmers owed money under the rice-pledging scheme of the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. This is reported by Bangkok Post. The Government Saving Bank is stateowned. And it gave the loan to Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, which is stateowned as well.

Later yesterday the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives informed, that it halts the loan from Government Savings Bank until the Finance Ministry clarifies the legality of such loans, as The Nation reported.
Also on Monday thousands of farmers marched from the Commerce Ministry and other sites to the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence in Muang Thong Thani, demanding a meeting with caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. She did not show up.

Will the Rice Policy of Yingluck Shinawatra lead to her end as Thailands Primeminister?
It looks less and less impossible, that Thailands Primeminister Yingluck Shinawatra will have to step down due to her rice policy. Thailands National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is expected to bring formal charges against her for her role in the rice-pledging scheme later this month, reports Bangkok Post. The question is: Will Yingluck Shinawatra have to face charges of violating Section 157 of the Criminal Code for dereliction of duty? If the main NACC panel decides to indict her and take the case to court, she would be required to step down from all official roles.

The government rice pledging programme has beem critizied due to corruption and inefficiency already by many experts. One of the most important economic policies of the Yingluck Shinawatra government, the programme represents a guarantee by the state to purchase unlimited amounts of rice from local farmers at prices as much as 50 percent higher than market value, as Bangkok Post reported.

Right now Thailands rice farmers are protesting against the government, because they didn't get the payment in time. Yingluck Shinawatras government was not able to raise funds to pay the farmers. Right now there are reports, that rice mills could help the farmers and the government, as The Nation writes.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Success for Antigovernment Protesters in Bangkok so far:
No Election Results in Thailand until now

Thailands government, led by Yingluck Shinawatra, held elections on February 2. But until now the Election Commission was not able to announce results. This looks like a victory for the antigovernment protesters around Suthep Thaugsuban.

The facts so far:
The Election Commission tries to make a descision on Friday Febriary 7, as The Nation reports.

The problems: 28 constituencies had no candidates; more than 12,000 polling stations were not open to voters; about 10 million voters were not able to cast their ballots; the advance voting could not be held regularly, a new round is needed, and 16 constituencies had only one candidate each.

The election saw low voter turnouts in many areas and millions of "no votes", in which voters cast their ballot but did not choose a political party or candidate, as The Nation writes.

Suthep Thaugsuban has announced he will lead a march on Friday to Silom to support rice farmers who are still waitung for the money, which the government of Yingluck Shinawatra has promised. Read more on The Nation. Meanwhile the government tries to arrest Suthep Thaugsuban. The Criminal Court Wednesday approved arrest warrants against 19 leaders of antigovernment protests, among them Suthep Thaugsuban.