Thailand announced in Bangkok a state of emergency to begin on Wednesday this week with the intention to enforce it for 60 days. Protestors against the ruling government proclaimed they did not intend to honor the decree and would continue to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the government. On Sunday two explosions proved fatal to 28 anti-government protestors. The twin blasts were the latest incident after a protestor was killed by a grenade last Friday. The grenade killed one person and injured 35 people.
Politics in Thailand have generally been split between two political factions, north and south. The north is led by the Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawtra who is very unpopular in the South. The southern faction comprises supporters who are members of the elite of Thailand. Despite the division of Thailand politics into two main camps, a great number of political parties have signed up to participate in the general elections scheduled for February 2 of this year. A total of 35 political parties are on the ballot. Due to the recent increase in violent clashes with protestors Thailand’s Election Commission has advised postponing the elections. This suggestion was rejected by a deputy prime minister who warned that such a postponement would lead to a prolongation of the violence. The protestors would most likely benefit from a postponement. It is expected that the election will once again be won by the Pheu Thai who were voted into office in a landslide victory in 2011.
Much dismay has been voiced about the disintegrating situation in the capital and citizens have begun to fret that Thailand’s democracy is in peril. By calling in Bangkok a state of emergency, the government can suspend functions as well as a civil rights, therefore seeking to alter the authority of officials as well as curtailing citizens’ freedom. It is to be seen if in three months the country can return to a more stable situation. A good number of the anti-government protestors who took to the streets, sometimes numbering in the thousands, come from the higher echelons of Thai society. However the violent disruptions are believed to be led by more hard-core members of what is now deemed a mass movement of protestors.
The capital has been the site of much violence in the past eight years. The level of street violence was extremely active in 2010 when anti-government activists staged daily protests leading up the elections in 2011. Recently foreign embassies have been advising visitors from abroad to avoid protest areas which remain restricted to certain parts of Bangkok. Despite that the danger posed by anti-government protestors is considered to be well controlled within specific areas, tourism has suffered because of this negative travel advice. Hotels have reported an increase in cancellations unhindered despite that the currency, the bhat, has fallen 10 percent in value since April. Bangkok’s state of emergency is an attempt to stay the slowing economic woes and discourage the protest movement from gathering momentum.
By Persephone Abbott