Thailand’s last Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, seems to be a lady of controversy. She demonstrates deep concern for the well-being of her country, while protesters against her government insist that she is her brother Thaksin Shinawatra’s puppet. Thaksin, Thailand’s previous prime minister, was ousted in a military coup in 2006, and now resides in self-exile in Dubai.
Since then, Thailand has seen constant political turmoil, which at times included violent protests in the streets. Just three years ago, scores of Thaksin supporters were killed during military crackdowns on their Central Bangkok rallies. Since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1932, the country has experienced as many as 18 coups or attempted coups.
The two main forces at loggerheads with each other over Yingluck’s current government are the Red Shirts and the Yellow Shirts. The Yellow Shirts, or People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), was originally a coalition of protesters against Thaksin, whom they accused of being against the monarchy. The Red Shirts, called the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), is a political pressure group opposed to PAD. They claimed that the previous government under Abhisit Vejjajiva and backed by the military and judiciary was illegitimate.
Yingluck herself was elected to office by a landslide in 2011. Given the history of the previous parties that supported Thaksin and were dissolved by parliament behind “electoral tampering”, it is small wonder that Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party has come under fire from so many demonstrators calling for her removal from government.
In a surprise move, Yingluck called for Parliament to be dissolved and announced elections to be held on February 2, ostensibly to return control of the government back to the people. Many of the demonstrators are wary of this, with one stating that it is “too late.” Most of the opposition wonders about this lady of controversy’s motives, convinced that Thaksin is still calling the shots from Dubai.
At the center of the political turmoil in this recent round of protests is an impasse. The protesters want a brand new government, and they want it without Yingluck and her current administration. They also want her arrested for insurrection; the first of a list of demands the leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, a former politician himself, wants.
Yingluck simply seems to want a return of stability to her country. The continued protests are resulting in deaths, potentially scaring off investors and tourists. That is extremely bad for a country which exists on an economy of export. She has called for a sit-down of all involved parties to find a political solution and the Yellow Shirts’ threat to pull completely out of politics is not helping matters any.
Yingluck has already taken the position of caretaker as she works to make the February elections a reality, despite allegations that they will likely be rigged. In spite of a recent meeting with visiting US President Barrack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, where she is seen as a charming, laughing host, Yingluck Shinawatra still remains a lady of much controversy.
Editorial by Lee Birdine