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Thailand forum

Prime Minister Yingluck removed from power in Thailand

Posted by DLuek on 7/5/2014 at 03:24 TF writer

The Constitutional Court ruled today that PM Yingluck abused her power (some details here) and is removed from her post. Several of her most powerful cabinet members have also been booted. Not clear yet if the next PM will be appointed (not even clear who has the authority to do this as the whole govt is in shambles) or if they'll be one of the remaining members of what was Yingluck's cabinet. Either way, it's easy to feel the power vacuum already tugging.

This is a major development that could soon result in pro-government (or pro-booted-government?) red shirt protesters descending on Bangkok. I recommend keeping a fairly close watch on the news if you're in the city or are planning on traveling here in the near future.

#1 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 7/5/2014 at 06:42

Hmmm...lots of trouble ahead

#2 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148


Posted by MADMAC on 7/5/2014 at 10:01

We'll see how this shakes out. Yingluck had lost a lot of popularity with the Red shirts after a lack of activism. A lot of them felt shortchanged by her government (which I think accounts for their lacking to rally much when she was under seige). So this could end up being a fizzle, with new elections called and things proceeding apace. OR, they could feel disenfrachised and hit the streets. We'll see.

#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by DLuek on 7/5/2014 at 10:31 TF writer

I hope you're right, Mac. And I think you are since a Pheu Thai representative and long-time Shinawatra insider held onto the "caretaker prime minister" role (his name is Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan by the way). So it wasn't a complete "purge" of the "Thaksin regime", which means that the PDRC will continue its camp out at Lumpini Park and the red shirts will most likely hold out to see what happens with this election planned for July.

My guess is that the court really wanted to boot the entire cabinet, but I think the judges knew that that would be opening a big old can of worms (i.e. angry red shirt protests that would potentially clash with PDRC "security guards"). You're also right that the Pheu Thai has lost some support, namely farmers who were screwed by the rice-pledging debacle. But I think they still have more than enough support to mobilize demonstrations that would be at least as disruptive as the ones in 2010. However that's unlikely to happen based on the ruling today. On the other hand, if the July election gets delayed, blocked or nullified again, say hello to a red storm.

#4 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 7/5/2014 at 19:28

The other mob havent won an election for ages. If Yingluck did something wrong why did it take so long for the courts to act and why isnt she in jail?

The country is now beyond a joke.

#5 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by DLuek on 7/5/2014 at 21:36 TF writer

This immediate ride isn't over. The Anti-Corruption Agency is getting ready to read its findings on the rice-pledging scheme, which could very well kick out this new prime minister after no more than a few days. PDRC launching "final push" for the umpteenth time. Decent over here: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/408642/pm-goes-impasse-stays

#6 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by Grubert on 7/5/2014 at 21:53

Ha, you beat me to it DLuek! I was just about to post that Niwatthumrong could be suspended as early as today. Sad to see that earlier hopes that Suthep would finally be able to climb down the pole in a face-saving way have been just that - hopes.

#7 Grubert has been a member since 21/2/2014. Posts: 57

Posted by MADMAC on 7/5/2014 at 22:49

"The country is now beyond a joke."

Leonard, the issue at hand isn't whether thai government is sufficiently fair in its processes, or whether or not it meets some western or other standard. It's not our country and not up to us to judge in this category. That's up to the Thais to decide how to govern themselves. The issue is will it lead to violence and upheaval that is dangerous and / or disruptive to those who travel here or live here. And right now I would say no.

#8 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by DLuek on 8/5/2014 at 03:21 TF writer

A post has been removed because it conflicted with the following forum guideline:

Discussions related to the Thai Royal Family
Due to the severe lese majeste laws related to Thai Royalty any discussion we believe to be even remotely disrespectful of them will be removed immediately.


This is important so please keep it in mind.

#9 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 8/5/2014 at 08:54

King = awesome.
MM, Thais are saying the political situation is a complete joke and it is. What a farce.

#10 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 8/5/2014 at 09:29

"MM, Thais are saying the political situation is a complete joke and it is. What a farce."

I think that's a little harsh. You judge a political system on its results, and Thailand has moved a LONG WAY over the last 50 years. Syria's political system is a farce. North Koreas is psychotic. Thailand's is still in the maturing process. It could be a lot worse - and I've seen a lot worse.

#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 8/5/2014 at 09:57

Those are extreme cases. Killing 1 person and saying it's ok because others killed 50 people doesn't make it right.
Any country where protests are going on for months and months and come back every couple of years with people being shot and killed is a bad situation.
FFS if you have a democracy and one side wins you have to respect it.

#12 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by dupree on 8/5/2014 at 12:48

So what could this mean for travel plans in the immediate future? Will it be safe in other areas of Thailand, or will **** hit the fan?

#13 dupree has been a member since 3/4/2014. Posts: 14

Posted by Airborne082 on 8/5/2014 at 16:40

I'm with Dupree, what's this mean for travelers? I'm going in July but was getting ready to buy my plane ticket soon. I guess the travel warning will not end on May 19.

#14 Airborne082 has been a member since 14/4/2014. Posts: 19

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 8/5/2014 at 21:01

For tourists i wouldnt worry in.the st.

#15 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by DLuek on 8/5/2014 at 21:42 TF writer

So what could this mean for travel plans in the immediate future? Will it be safe in other areas of Thailand, or will **** hit the fan?

At this point it's still impossible to say. Protests have already been going on for over six months and for the most part Bangkok has been safe for travelers over that time. But the future is uncertain and it's certainly possible that things will get worse before they get better. These things tend to ebb and flow in Thailand, reaching peaks (i.e. when the PDRC drew over 100,000 to rallies last Nov./Dec. or when the army cleared the red shirts in 2010) and then going into periods of lull. Given what we've seen since 2006, a full-on violent conflict still seems very unlikely. As a general rule I feel that protesters on both sides are trying to make their country better, not destroy it.

So while I certainly wouldn't cancel any trips at this point, I would keep an eye on the news as your trip approaches (Bangkok Post, Khao Sod, Bangkok Pundit). Also keep in mind that even during the worst protests in Bangkok, it's been business as usual in the entire rest of the country -- worst case scenario is you hop a bus out of Bangkok direct from the Airport Transport Center after arriving.

#16 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by DLuek on 8/5/2014 at 21:43 TF writer

Any country where protests are going on for months and months and come back every couple of years with people being shot and killed is a bad situation. FFS if you have a democracy and one side wins you have to respect it.

I hear what Mac's saying -- could be a lot worse -- but I also agree with Leonard's statement above. The BBC recently published a bunch of interviews with different Thai people and permanent expats from around the country. Nearly all of them wanted some sort of compromise; you hardly got the extremist position taken by the PDRC's ranting leader. But the one that really hit home was a Chulalangkorn Univ. student who said he felt that the army should be allowed to rule for the next 10 years, until a "new generation" of politicians has replaced the completely dysfunctional, uncompromising ones who have sent the country into chaos. His exact words were: "Democracy is important but peace is more important." The fact that a well-educated young person would choose a military dictatorship over the current circumstances shows you just how screwed up those circumstances are.

#17 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by DLuek on 8/5/2014 at 21:57 TF writer

If you're out in Bangkok today you might run into PDRC protesters: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/408832/pdrc-kicks-off-all-out-final-battle

#18 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by MADMAC on 8/5/2014 at 23:41

"FFS if you have a democracy and one side wins you have to respect it."

Thailand is not a mature democracy yet. Look at how long it took England to reach that point - literally hundreds of years. The US had to go through a catastrophic civil war before ours truly matured. Every countries traditions and origins are different and often it takes time to develop mature institutions.

#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by DLuek on 9/5/2014 at 06:16 TF writer

Completely agree. Thailand was either an absolute monarchy or military dictatorship (with a few short patches of democracy) straight into the 1990s. It's not fair to compare it to countries like the US that have had a functional democracy for well over a century. But that doesn't make the uncertainty and day-to-day problems caused by protests any easier to deal with. I do however think that the Thais would never let things escalate to the point of a serious armed conflict. Sabai is the desired status quo here, and war is not sabai.

#20 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 9/5/2014 at 06:35

Yes i agree with that. Thais have a fun attitude in general and arent violent radicals like u see in Africa. So there is hope.

#21 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by somtam2000 on 9/5/2014 at 07:54 admin

Some decent further reading:

The Economist: Everything is broken
The Indo-Pacific review: Can Thailand's monarchy survive democracy

The second piece in particular is excellent.

#22 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,575
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Posted by somtam2000 on 9/5/2014 at 08:27 admin

This one, from the Japan Times, also quite good - perhaps a bit simplistic (and doesn't cover the Royal angle), but it does a good job of laying out why, to many foreign casual observer this all seems so silly and ridiculous.

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Posted by dupree on 9/5/2014 at 16:17

So reading these articles, there seems like a likelihood of further violence and protest in the next few months. Do people on here think that there is a possibility of a civil war on the horizon?

#24 dupree has been a member since 3/4/2014. Posts: 14

Posted by somtam2000 on 9/5/2014 at 21:51 admin

The NYT weighs in with an editorial on the current situation. The calls for compromise are getting louder, but personally I feel the key playmakers here feel they either do not need to compromise, or are done compromising.

@dupree I still feel talk of civil war is overdone. I think once there is any sustained violence in Bangkok, assumedly after the red & PDRC mobs clash, the military will step in to tap it down and run the show. This despite their clear unwillingness to get involved (again). The response to that is anyone's guess.

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Posted by DLuek on 9/5/2014 at 22:38 TF writer

there seems like a likelihood of further violence and protest in the next few months.

Protests are happening right now and have been happening for the last six months. As I write this, the red shirts are rallying in the far western suburbs and the PDRC remain at Government House, Lumpini Park, Government Complex on Chaeng Watthana Road in North Bangkok and apparently a handful of TV stations (their intimidation of the media angers me more than anything).

If the senate speaker bows to the PDRC's demand to appoint a new prime minister, the red shirts are likely to mobilize and probably come to central Bangkok. In that case we could see red shirts in the city as soon as next week. If that doesn't happen, but the July election also doesn't go through as initially planned, then we could see major red protests at that point. The red shirts should be commended for staying out of central Bangkok and avoiding confrontation with the anti-government side so far. There seems to be some sort of deal between the army chief and leaders of both sides on this account.

Reading media reports can make it seem that the whole country is in total chaos. While that is mostly true in political terms, it's mostly normal on the ground -- you would never know there were problems unless you happened to come across protesters. Yesterday the PDRC held its largest protests in months, marching to a bunch of different places in Bangkok. Yet I spent the entire day in Chinatown and a large area around Khao San Road and didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Even when it's gotten really bad in Bangkok (i.e. 2010), the rest of the country was unaffected. So I personally wouldn't cancel a trip to Thailand at this point.

Do people on here think that there is a possibility of a civil war on the horizon?

I still think it's unlikely. The army has stayed neutral (at least in this round) and seems mainly dedicated to maintaining peace. This is key because if General Prayuth made moves in support of the anti-government side, army factions that support the government could rebel. The general seems well aware of this balance.

As Somtam says, more likely would be the military taking over for a while, which has happened several times before. But you never know. The rural majority has certainly been empowered, and I can't imagine they'll sit back and let the wealthy elite basically strip them of their right to vote. I mean, if I were a rural Thai voter, I wouldn't take this s*** either. Then again, a lot of formerly loyal red shirts have turned away from the government due to not receiving promised rice subsidy payments (among other issues), so Pheu Thai probably has less support than it used to.

#26 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by dupree on 9/5/2014 at 23:01

Thank for the replies Somtam and DLuek. I am trying to keep as informed as possible about the situation and trying to learn as much as I can about the background. But not having a big knowledge about Thai politics it's pretty confusing. As of right now, I still feel comfortable going there as I won't be spending a bunch of time in Bangkok anyways. However, 2 months is a long time for things to go south.

#27 dupree has been a member since 3/4/2014. Posts: 14

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 9/5/2014 at 23:09

Basically its north v south. One team gets a lot of votes from the north and the other the south. More people live in the north hence they win the elections and the other mob have a big sook about it.

Then on top on that u have the like/hate for Taksin along with his family.

#28 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by DLuek on 9/5/2014 at 23:34 TF writer

not having a big knowledge about Thai politics it's pretty confusing.

I've been following Thai politics fairly closely for 10 years and it's still confusing as hell!

#29 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 10/5/2014 at 00:55

I just heard some info from a contact who knows Abhisit that violence is pending. Abhisit supporters are planting bombs.

#30 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by dupree on 10/5/2014 at 01:02

Who's Abhisit?

#31 dupree has been a member since 3/4/2014. Posts: 14

Posted by DLuek on 10/5/2014 at 06:31 TF writer

Abhisit Vejjajiva is one of the main leaders of the "Democrat Party" that can never win elections. He was appointed prime minister in 2008 but had never won an election and was forced to call the election that Yingluck won after the red shirts rallied in 2010. And what Leonard is saying is nothing but a rumor at this point (rumors fly like crazy in Thailand).

#32 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by DLuek on 11/5/2014 at 10:51 TF writer

Anti-government protesters have announced they're leaving Lumpini Park tomorrow (Monday May 12) and putting all their marbles into the Government House area on Ratchadamnoen Nok north of Democracy Monument. Aside from the fact that I can go for relaxing jogs in Lumpini again (yes!), it doesn't change too much as some protesters had been around Government House all along. But traffic jams can be expected in parts of the historic district tomorrow -- I'd allot an extra hour if going from Khao San Road to Suvarnabhumi.

#33 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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