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.
According to Countryaah.com, Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand, a country located in Southeastern Asia. 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 were possible.
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 launched.
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 January 2019.
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 percent 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.