Emergency decree likely to be lifted in Thailand

With tourism down around 5 percent, pressure from business community expected to be a major reason.

Emergency decree likely to be lifted in Thailand

World Bulletin / News Desk

Thai authorities are on the verge of lifting an emergency decree imposed January 21 to control massive anti-government demonstrations, analysts told the Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

With tourism for the first quarter of the year expected to be down around 5 percent on last year, pressure from the business community is expected to be a major reason.

National Security Council Secretary-General Paradorn Pattanathabutr told media earlier this week that “business organisations have asked that it be lifted” and that “the overall situation is easing."

There is “a very high chance” the decree will be lifted soon, he added,

The emergency decree allows the government to restrict freedom of assembly, to impose censorship on media and to detain without warrant anyone for a duration of seven days. It also permits authorities to ask military to assist police in efforts to counter demonstrations. But a Civil court decision on February 19 severely limited the use of the decree when it prohibited the government's use of force.

“With the court judgement saying the authorities have no right to inflict damage to peaceful protesters, the government lost its weapon," political scientist Somjai Phagasphasivat told the Anadolu Agency Wednesday. "Moreover, protesters have abandoned several sites in order to regroup in a single location. The lifting of the decree is long overdue."

Since the beginning of the campaign to remove Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government, 23 people have been died and over 700 have been injured, according to the independent organisation Erawan Emergency Service. However, the number of violent incidents has decreased since protesters left most sites March 3 to regroup in Lumpini park, a large public area dotted with lakes and running lanes in downtown Bangkok.

But violence has not altogether disappeared - two grenade explosions injured three people near Lumpini last week.

Pressures from the business sector have loomed large in any decision. Along with the drop in tourism, state planning agency the National Economic and Social Development Board has cut its GDP prevision for 2014 from 4 percent to 3 percent.

“It is clear that the government is worried by the impact on the tourism sector, and this is an important factor in the possible lifting of the decree.” said Phagasphasivat.

The prime minister is facing a wave of opposition protests after her government pushed through an amnesty that would have lifted a conviction against her brother, Thaksin – a deeply divisive figure in Thai politics - whose Thai Rak Thai (Thai love Thai) party led the country from 2001 to 2006 until he was overthrown in a coup and then found guilty of abuse of power.

Confronted by massive protests, the government withdrew the bill, but the opposition has alleged massive corruption by the government and Shinawatra family.

Yingluck dissolved parliament December 9 and called February 2 elections, which were disrupted by protesters who want an unelected “people’s council” to run Thailand until the political system is reformed in a way which would limit the influence of elected governments and increase the power of independent agencies appointed by magistrates.

Yingluck is also facing charges of negligence of duty filed by the opposition at the National Anti-Corruption Commission in relation to a rice-subsidies scheme – a process which could eventually lead to her impeachment.

Last Mod: 12 Mart 2014, 14:33
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