Thai Capital Plagued By the Biggest Anti-Government Protests in Years
More than 100,000 protesters congregated at Democracy Monument in Bangkok yesterday to protest Thai PM Yingluck Shiniwatra’s consideration of an amnesty bill to pardon her banned brother Thaksin Shiniwatra, the former Thai PM ousted from the country in a 2006 coup.
Thai anti-government, anti-corruption protests at Democracy Monument, Sunday, 24 November 2013
Simply explained, the proposed amnesty bill by the current Thai PM is similar in nature to US Presidential pardons, often administered by outgoing US Presidents to pardon their criminal friends.
For example, here are just a few of the 150 criminals US President Bill Clinton pardoned during his administration:
Amy Ralston Pofahl (drug money laundering, distribution and manufacturing ecstasy)
Norman Lyle Prouse (Former Captain for Northwest Airlines, imprisoned for flying while intoxicated)
Richard Wilson Riley Jr. (Cocaine and marijuana charges, father was Clinton's Education Secretary)
Dan Rostenkowski (former Democratic Congressman convicted in the Congressional Post Office scandal)
Edward Downe, Jr. (wire fraud, false income tax returns and securities fraud)
Roger Clinton, Jr. (cocaine charges, half-brother of President Bill Clinton)
Mansour Azizkhani (1984 false statements in bank loan applications)
Nicholas M. Altiere (1983 importation of cocaine)
Bernice Ruth Altschul (1992 money laundering conspiracy)
Marc Rich (tax evasion and illegally making oil deals with Iran during the Iran hostage crisis)
Here are just a few of the 189 criminals George W. Bush pardoned during his administration:
Bruce Louis Bartos (Transportation of a machine gun in foreign commerce)
Michael Robert Moelter (Conducting an illegal gambling business)
Samuel Wattie Guerry (Food Stamp fraud)
Meredith Elizabeth Casares (Embezzlement of US Postal Service Funds)
Joseph William Warner (Arson)
Rusty Lawrence Elliot (Making counterfeit Federal Reserve notes)
Rufus Edward Harris (Conspiracy to deliver 10 or more grams of LSD)
Larry Paul Lenius (Conspiracy to distribute cocaine)
Donald Lee Pendergrass (Armed bank robbery)
Karen Marie Edmonson (Distribution of methamphetamines)
Glanus Terrell Osborne (Possession of a stolen motor vehicle)
Samuel Lewis Whisel (Aiding and abetting the transportation of stolen goods)
Richard James Putney, Jr. (Aiding and abetting the escape of a prisoner)
And here are just a few of the 39 criminals Barack Obama has thus far pardoned during his administration (most US Presidential pardons are granted just prior to the end of the sitting President’s term. Thus most of Obama’s pardons will be granted in the future):
Edwin Hardy Futch, Jr. (Theft from an interstate shipment)
Jon Christopher Kozeliski (Conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods)
Michael John Petri (Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine)
Lynn Marie Stanek (Unlawful use of a communication facility to distribute cocaine)
Dennis George Bulin (Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 pounds of marijuana)
Thomas Paul Ledford (Conducting and directing an illegal gambling business)
Timothy James Gallagher (Cocaine possession and conspiracy to distribute)
Bobby Gerald Wilson (Aiding and abetting the possession and sale of illegal American alligator hides)
From the above, it is blatantly obvious that US Presidents regularly abuse the sanctity of their office to pardon a wide range of offenses committed by their friends, including arson, larceny, drug trafficking, armed robbery, fraud, counterfeiting, possession and trafficking of stolen goods, and participation in illegal gambling enterprises. If you wonder why banks like Wachovia, HSBC, Citigroup, JP Morgan et al regularly get away with knowingly laundering money for violent drug cartels without a single banker ending up in jail for this criminal behavior, the actions of current and former POTUS clearly illustrates that the War on Drugs is a false war with a real ulterior motive of producing profits for those parties, including bankers and politicians, most heavily involved in it. As I couldn’t find a case of human trafficking pardoned among the several hundred pardons granted by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, perhaps this is the one crime so heinous that even US Presidents are unwilling to pardon it.
In light of the above, it is no wonder that Thai citizens are fed up with government corruption that plagues all governments worldwide, and have taken to the streets to protest a proposed amnesty bill that would not only provide amnesty for a list of former PM Thaksin’s “political offenses stretching back to the 2006 coup” according to the Bangkok Post, but would also return Thaksin’s considerable 46 billion baht (USD $1.4 billion) of frozen assets gained through corruption, perhaps with interest. The Bangkok Post also noted that “all government officials, from former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to military commanders, held accountable by the red shirts for the deaths of 92 people in the May 19 crackdown in 2010 will also be absolved of all wrongdoing” as part of the proposed amnesty bill. Furthermore, in a huge conflict of interest, 600 million baht would be returned to the current Prime Minister, Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. According to Bloomberg, “the amnesty bill angered Thaksin’s opponents, who said it could whitewash crimes he allegedly committed in power, while some of his own supporters criticized the law for protecting opposition leaders who allowed the army to use live ammunition to disperse protesters in 2010 when their Democrat party held power.”
In response to this protest, thus far, more than USD $2.1 billion in capital has been withdrawn from the Thai bond and equities market just this month through the 22nd of November, and the Thai baht has now fallen to 31.94 to the USD, its weakest showing since 13 September of this year. As the Bank of Thailand refused to engage in the currency war to the bottom at a time when all major Central Banks were engaging in this war, could further Thai baht devaluation be on the horizon, especially in light of the political instability in Thailand now? Most certainly.
Update, via Reuters, 7:22 PM Bangkok Time: "More than 1,000 anti-government demonstrators entered the compound of Thailand's Foreign Ministry on Monday as part of protests aimed at overthrowing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Protesters lifted the main gate of the ministry and drove a car and a six-wheel truck into the compound to use as a temporary stage, a Reuters witness said. Leaders of the protest announced they would occupy and stay overnight at the ministry. Earlier, about 1,000 anti-government demonstrators forced their way into the Finance Ministry and protest leaders called for the occupation of other government buildings in an escalating bid to topple the government. The swiftly rising political tension came as more than 30,000 demonstrators marched to 13 areas across the city, raising the risk of a clash with police, a day after about 100,000 gathered in the city's historic quarter."
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