Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thailand: Update--16 Nations Save the US, Warn Citizens of Anti-Governmental Protests Over Amnesty

According to http://www.thainews.prd.go.th, fifteen countries on Tuesday (November 12) issued warnings to their citizens asking them to avoid traveling to areas near the anti-government rallies in Bangkok after the opposition called for a three-day nationwide strike. 

Consequently, the UK, France, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Australia, Israel, Brazil, Singapore, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Germany and Hungary have all issued travel advisories, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Surapol Sawetseranee said following anti-government protests enveloping parts of Bangkok during the last few days.

Around 50,000 Thais clustered in the political heart of Bangkok last night, with some 2,500 anti-government protesters remaining on the streets against a proposed amnesty bill, which was rejected by the upper house of Parliament.

The bill, if adopted, could have paved the way or the return of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, 64, who is the influential Prime Minister's baby sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, 46, a bill could also have exonerated Thaksin of all  corruption charges.

COMMENT: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today (November 12) appealed to anti-government groups to end their protests, yet it should be a wake-up call for Yingluck that the Senate has rejected the bill.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), sixteen countries have already issued travel warnings, urging their citizens to avoid demonstration sites in Thailand.

In wake of the current political situation in Thailand, 16 countries worldwide have warned their people traveling in Thailand, for their own safety, not to go near or pass through any of the demonstration sites in the Kingdom.

According to TAT Governor Surapol Svetasreni, there has been no report from the Association of Thai Travel Agents of any hotel cancellations in spite of the warnings, and the ongoing protests do not seem to have any effect on the country’s tourism industry. He, however, admitted if the situation dragged on, the impact would be difficult to assess.

As for the situation in the disputed territory between Thailand and Cambodia, the governor said the TAT would keep a close watch on the impact from the November 11's ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), adding that the atmosphere along the border line is still calm. 

Former PM Thaksin also has commercial interests in Cambodia, considering that he owns the most successful wireless company in Thailand.

In the interest of transparency, Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted from office in a military coup in 2006.