Around 10,000 people took part in the planned demonstrations in the historic part of Bangkok on Wednesday – most of them students. They have demanded that the Prime Minister resign and that the Constitution be amended on significant points, including the role of the monarchy in the country.
Fear violence and unrest
At four o’clock local time on Thursday night, the government, led by the former coup maker Prayut Chan-o-cha, declared a state of emergency for parts of Bangkok where several of the government offices are located.
The Prime Minister justifies this with the fact that “the demonstrations can lead to more violence, affect the economy and the safety of the citizens”. A ban is introduced for more than five people to gather and restrictions on what the media can publish.
The remaining protesters left the area in the morning. Several protest leaders have been arrested, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. The situation is tense. New demonstrations are planned in the commercial downtown area of Bangkok on Thursday afternoon local time.
A car procession, in which the Thai queen was among others, was surrounded by protesters on Wednesday afternoon. The Thai king has spent a lot of time in Germany since he was installed after his father died in 2016.
Some protesters pointed three fingers as a salute to the motorcade – inspired by the movie “The Hunger Games”, and a symbol of a totalitarian government. Pictures show that the queen and her entourage waved and smiled.
– It is unlikely that the demand to implement reforms in the monarchy will receive broad support in the population. It has created confusion and division, says Associate Professor Jade Donavanik, who was an adviser when the last Constitution was drafted after the military coup in 2014, to Nikkei Weekly.
Thailand has had two military coups since 2006 and there were several clashes between different political groups before the last military coup in 2014.
Empty for tourists
The Thai economy has been hit hard by the corona pandemic. The authorities gained control of local outbreaks this spring and most of the restrictions have been removed. The central bank expects economic activity to fall by around eight per cent in 2020.
Thailand is one of the countries that is most dependent on the tourism sector. Last year, almost 40 million people left for Thailand. Almost a third of these came from China. The tourism sector accounts for almost a fifth of value creation. Now the borders are closed.
Only Thai nationals and permanent residents with a residence permit are allowed to enter. Everyone must be quarantined for 14 days. A proposal to issue special visas for tourists wishing to spend the winter in the country has been postponed several times.
– Only in the second half of 2022 will economic activity return to the same level as before the corona pandemic. There is still great uncertainty. The answer lies in when it can be opened to tourists, says director Don Nakornthab in the central bank to the Bangkok Post.
– Not ideal
The Thai currency has remained strong due to $ 277 billion in foreign exchange reserves, low government debt and large current account surpluses abroad for many years. This year, foreign investors have reduced their exposure to the Thai market by $ 10.6 billion (almost $ 100 billion), according to official statistics.
– The situation is definitely not ideal for investors, especially if the protests escalate. We will probably see a transfer of capital from Thailand to other markets in the region. The Thai baht will definitely be weaker, says currency trader Mingze Wu at StoneX Group in Singapore to Bloomberg.
The Thai National Assembly has approved economic package of measures to support the economy of the equivalent of 1900 billion baht (560 billion kroner) – over 10 percent of the annual value creation in 2019.(Terms)Copyright Dagens Næringsliv AS and / or our suppliers. We would like you to share our cases using a link, which leads directly to our pages. Copying or other form of use of all or part of the content, can only take place with written permission or as permitted by law. For further terms see here.