Thailand. In February, Thailand introduced a smoking ban
on 24 of the country's most popular beaches with a view to
curbing debris in the water and on the beaches. The penalty
for those who defied the ban was a fine of SEK 25,000 or one
year in prison.
In May, more than 500 protesters gathered at the
Thammasat University in Bangkok in protest of the military
government postponing the general election that would have
been held repeatedly during the year. The demonstration was
one of several since the beginning of the year when a change
in the electoral law was made. The protests have been
carried out despite the country's ban on political
gatherings with more than five people introduced by the
military junta in 2014.
Countryaah.com, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam stated in June
that general elections might be held in February 2019.
However, he said that varying dates between February and May
In September, the military government removed parts of
the previous ban on political activity, which meant that
political parties for the first time since the military coup
recruited members and appointed party leaders. In addition,
parties with more than 250 members were allowed to hold
party meetings. However, political gatherings with more than
five people in a public place were still prohibited.
The country's culture minister said in July that six film
companies, five of them international, planned to make films
of the big drama surrounding a football team of twelve boys
and their coaches who got stuck in a cave in northern
Thailand for over two weeks. It was in June that the
football team disappeared and major search efforts began.
After nine days, the boys were found on an elevated rock
formation just over 4 kilometers into the more than
1-mile-long cave Tham Luang Nang Non. The team had been
forced ever further into the rock room due to rising water
levels after monsoon rains. An entire world followed the
rescue efforts with excitement. When the media announced in
July that the coach and all the boys had been freed from the
death trap in the cave, many were happy. However, a diver
died during the rescue work.
Relatives and allies of the military deposed by Yingluck
Shinawatra and her brother Thaksin, in November formed a new
political party called the Thai Raksa Chart Party. According
to analysts, the party was formed for strategic purposes in
order to win more seats as the new military government's
constitution makes it difficult for a single party to gain
its own majority in parliament. According to the Reuters
news agency, in addition to the Thai Raksa Chart Party, at
least two additional support parties to the former Thailand
government party, led by Yingluck Shinawatra, had been
In December, the government announced that general
elections would be held on February 24, 2019 and that the
ban on all forms of political activity should be lifted from
NEW CONSTITUTION IN 2007 - "A STATE COUPLE IN THE QUIET"
After the referendum, Thailand was given a contentious
new constitution in August 2007. New parliamentary elections
in December 2007 again gave rise to political turbulence.
The election was far and away a triumph for the new People's
Power Party (PPP). The party's main requirement was for the
convicted Thaksin to return.
The People's Party came to an absolute majority with 233
of a total of 498 seats in the National Assembly. Party
leader Samak Sundaravej called this a "victory over the coup
makers". The new Democratic Party, which had declared its
support for the coup makers, gained 165 seats. The Democrats
were clearly the biggest in Bangkok. But by the way, the
election was a loss of prestige for the generals who had
been trying for 15 months to put Thaksin in disarray.
The People's Party dominated in poor but populous rural
areas, especially in the north and northeast, where Thaksin
is still popular. As head of government, he supported the
vast majority of the rural population with populist
programs, including cheap loans and other subsidies to small
farmers. Thaksin was thus at odds with the traditionally
dominant political elite of bureaucrats, military and
royalist aristocrats, and with the increasingly politically
conscious middle class in the cities.
The 2007 elections were to pave the way for a
people-elected government, but the military had now secured
several opportunities for political intervention. In a
referendum in August 2007, the generals passed a new
constitution that weakens the democratic institutions and
ensures the military a continued strong and constitutional
position of power. Just before the new election in December
came a new emergency law that authorizes the defense
management to take political action, without having to
consult with elected representatives.
The new constitution opened the way for the military to
set aside all constitutional civil rights. The human rights
organization Human Rights Watch termed the law changes as "a
coup d'état in the quiet".
Yingluck Shinawatra with amnesty proposal
On May 2, 2011, new elections were finally announced and
on July 3 of that year 75.03 per cent of the voters went to
the urns. Thaksin Shinawatra's youngest sister, Yingluck
Shinawatra, stood as prime ministerial candidate for the
Phuea Thai Party (PT), which was founded after the
dissolution of the People's Party (PPP). Yingluck got a
majority in parliament with 265 out of 500 seats. Abhisit
Vejjajiva and the Democratic Party became the largest
opposition party with 159 seats.
The beginning of Yingluck's fall as prime minister began
with an amnesty proposal that Phuea Thai voted in parliament
on November 1, 2013. The proposal would provide amnesty to
all involved in the political strife since 2004. This would
include Yingluck's brother, Thaksin, as well as former prime
minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former Deputy Prime Minister
Suthep Thaugsuban of the Democratic Party.
The latter two were charged with murder in connection
with the military intervention against the red shirts in May
2010. However, a united Senate rejected the amnesty
proposal, which was heavily unpopular both in the Democratic
Party and among the red shirts. The proposal, however,
triggered a new wave of demonstrations, whose stated aim was
to remove the Thaksin regime from Thai politics and to
appoint a neutral transitional government capable of
introducing political reforms. Suthep Thaugsuban resigned in
parliament to lead the movement called the People's
Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
The PDRC mobilized over 100,000 in the streets on
November 24 and has since kept pushing to sabotage the
government's business. On December 8, Democratic Party
representatives left parliament in protest. Yingluck
responded by announcing new elections on February 2, 2014,
but the Democratic Party boycotted the election. The Phuea
Thai party won as expected, but due to sabotage in several
constituencies in Bangkok and in several provinces in
southern Thailand, the election was declared invalid by the
Constitutional Court on March 21. On May 7, a new verdict
came in the Constitutional Court that set aside Yingluck and
nine other ministers.