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Thai PM survives no confidence vote after being accused of graft

Updated On: Nov 28, 2012

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra survived a no confidence motion launched by her opponents in parliament on Wednesday, days after riot police deployed tear gas at a political rally in Bangkok.

Ms Yingluck won the no-confidence vote easily as predicted, with her party Puea Thai's coalition holding nearly 300 of the lower house's 500 seats.

Ms Yingluck has faced corruption charges from the opposition and has been accused of receiving orders from her brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawat. Mr Thaksin is under self imposed exile overseas to avoid a jail sentence imposed for corruption charges that he maintains are politically motivated.

Before the vote, protests in the capital on Saturday raised concerns of a repeat of 2010 protests which resulted in a deadly military crackdown which left approx. 90 people dead and almost 2000 injured.

The government invoked security laws ahead of the rally, which was estimated to number 15 -20 000, well short of hopes of organisers.

Ms. Yingluck had recently won praise from US President Barack Obama for maintaining stability to the country following her election. A few days later the PM hosted Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, a sign of Thailand's regional significance as China and the US compete for influence in Southeast Asia.

SIIA Fellow Tanya Laohathai said the general population was relieved that unrest had not escalated. "The fact that the anti-government rally, led by the Pitak Siam group leaders, ended within a day was very much welcomed by the majority of Thai people. 

In many respects, it shows that the Thai public has grown tired of taking things to the streets and would rather see the disagreements being solved within the Thai Parliament. 

This is why the majority of the Thai people would like to see the three-day no-confidence debate launched by the Opposition in the parliament during 25-27 November 2012 take place with no distractions."

However, Dr Tanya cautioned that the government still had much work to do to convince opponents and the population it was open to concerns. "It is fair to say that this no-confidence debate has shed lights on several controversial policies, particularly the government’s rice purchasing scheme and flood response budget, she said.

"Even after the no-confidence debate, it is likely that the Yingluck Government will still continue to face harsh criticisms over alleged irregularities in the rice pledging scheme, flood response budget, and for allegedly failing to enforce anti-corruption laws.  More work remains to be done to bring about national reconciliation but, in the meantime, the Thai economy and the public at large continue with their business as usual."

Report: Thai PM survives no-confidence vote (AsiaOne, 28 November 2012)

Report: Protest demonstrates Yingluck's challenge (WSJ, 25 November 2012)

Report:  Thai PM faces no confidence motion (CNA, 25 November 2012)