Nov 27, 2013

    Thai protests paralyse more ministries


    THAI opposition protesters besieged several more ministries in Bangkok yesterday

    to try to topple the government, as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra faced a no-confidence motion in Parliament.

    Tens of thousands of demonstrators have rallied against Ms Yingluck and her brother, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, in the biggest street protests since 2010, when more than 90 civilians were killed in a military crackdown.

    Demonstrators surrounded the interior, agriculture, transport, and sports and tourism ministries, ordering officials inside to leave, a day after occupying the finance and foreign ministries.

    Several thousand protesters, waving Thai flags and blowing whistles, marched to the interior ministry, which was guarded by hundreds of security personnel.

    Demonstrators, who vowed to stay on the street overnight, said they had moved to cut off the water supply to the building and were planning to turn off the electricity.

    "We don't dislike Thaksin - we loathe him. This is the end for him," said Mrs Dhiranut Bunna, a 43-year-old housewife from Bangkok who was among the protesters still at the Finance Ministry.

    Apart from the Interior Ministry, most government buildings taken over had only a light security presence outside.

    But security has been tightened on Bangkok's streets since the expansion late on Monday of the Internal Security Act, which gives the authorities additional powers to block routes, impose a curfew, ban gatherings and carry out searches.

    Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned Singaporeans travelling to Bangkok that there will be "increased security presence and traffic congestion".

    Protest areas may include popular tourist areas like Silom Road and Ratchaprasong intersection, it said in a travel notice issued yesterday.

    A Thai court yesterday approved an arrest warrant for protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban - who resigned from the opposition Democrat Party to head the rallies - in connection with the occupation of government buildings.

    A no-confidence motion was put forward last week by the Democrats, who have not won an elected majority in Parliament in about two decades, as part of a barrage of challenges to Ms Yingluck's embattled government.

    Debate began yesterday and the ruling Puea Thai party, which holds a comfortable majority, is expected to win the censure vote expected later in the week.