Thailand in state of emergency
THAILAND yesterday declared a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas to tackle mass street protests aimed at overthrowing the government. The decree will come into effect today.
The decree, which applies to Bangkok and surrounding provinces, gives security agencies the power to impose curfews, detain suspects without charge, censor media, ban political gatherings of more than five people and declare parts of the capital off-limits.
"We need it, because the protesters have closed government buildings, banks and escalated the situation, which has caused injuries and deaths. The government sees the need to announce the emergency decree to keep the situation under control," Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said.
The move follows weeks of mass rallies in the city that have sparked several bouts of violence, including grenade attacks and shootings that each side has blamed on the other.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is under intense pressure from demonstrators, backed by the royalist establishment, to step down after more than two months of street rallies aimed at ousting her government and installing an unelected "people's council".
She has called an election for next month, but the main opposition party is boycotting the vote.
The protests are also beginning to undermine South-east Asia's second-biggest economy.
On Monday, the Thai subsidiary of auto giant Toyota, and one of Thailand's biggest foreigner investors, said it might reconsider a US$600-million (S$766-million) spending plan and even cut production if the unrest drags on.
And some economists expect the central bank will be forced to further cut interest rates when it meets today to give a lift to the economy.