Thai ex-premier Yingluck says ’democracy is dead’ after she’s impeached

Thailand’s former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Friday that democracy in her country was dead, after the military-appointed legislature voted to ban her from politics for five years and the prosecutor announced plans to indict her on criminal charges in connection with a money-losing rice subsidy program.

BANGKOK — Thailand’s former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Friday that democracy in her country was dead, after the military-appointed legislature voted to ban her from politics for five years and the prosecutor announced plans to indict her on criminal charges in connection with a money-losing rice subsidy program.

The twin actions by the legislature and the attorney general against Yingluck are widely seen as an attempt by the military junta to cripple the political machine founded by Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, another ousted prime minister, and prevent them from returning to power.

The legislature voted 190-18 to impeach Yingluck for her role in overseeing a government rice subsidy program that lost billions of dollars. The vote results in her being banned from political office for five years.

Separately, the attorney general’s office said it would indict her on criminal charges for negligence related to losses and alleged corruption in the rice program. If convicted, Yingluck could face 10 years in jail.

She was forced by a court ruling last May to step down from her job for illegally transferring a civil servant, and just days later the army staged a coup against her government.

On her Facebook page, Yingluck said she still wants to see reconciliation and democracy in Thailand strengthened, “even though today Thai democracy has died, along with the rule of law.” She cancelled a scheduled news conference after her lawyers said the military authorities advised she risked violating martial law.

In her appearance before Parliament on Thursday, she denied she was responsible for any corruption and questioned the fairness of an investigation by the state anti-corruption commission, which had recommended charges against her.

The rice subsidy program, which paid farmers double the market price for their crops, ultimately incurred national losses of more than $4 billion and temporarily cost Thailand’s place as the world’s leading exporter.

After the army ousted her brother in 2006, Yingluck led the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party party to victory in 2011 with an absolute majority of seats in the lower house.

The five-year ban on Yingluck’s political activities “represents a show of confidence by the junta, which feels that it has broken the back of the Pheu Thai Party” and their supporters, the Red Shirt movement, said Kevin Hewison, a Thai studies expert who heads the Asia Research Centre at Australia’s Murdoch University.

“With Yingluck banned and Thaksin in exile, the military junta and its appointed bodies will feel more confident in gradually preparing the way for an election, probably in 2016. They will be more confident that they can be heavy-handed in changing the political rules to prevent any pro-Thaksin party having any chance to do well electorally,” he said.

A mass political protest by the Red Shirts remains unlikely for now, said London-based analyst Ambika Ahuja of the Eurasia Group consultancy.

“Thaksin will likely continue to hold off on any active political movement, maintaining a long-term strategy rather than pushing for an immediate end game. However, there will be a rise in anti-military rhetoric and more opponents will openly question the army’s legitimacy,” she said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A new $2.3 billion expansion of Alberta’s natural gas transportation system was approved by Ottawa on Tuesday. It will add 344 km of new pipeline to an existing 24,500-km system. The new line will stretch from west of Red Deer to Grande Prairie. (Flickr photo)
Red Deer-area to benefit from $2.3 billion gas pipeline expansion project

Project will add 344 km of new pipeline between RMH and Grande Prairie

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer urged Red Deerians to take more pandemic precautions to stem the rising number of local cases of COVID-19. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Red Deer Mayor urges citizens to take more pandemic precautions

Active cases are rising at a ‘concerning’ rate

Turning the off-season Ross Street Patio into a vibrant, welcoming place for diners is the new goal of adjacent business owners, who plan to add some heaters and musical entertainment this winter. (Advocate file photo).
Ross Street Patio will keep running in downtown Red Deer this winter

City approves a pilot project during the pandemic

Classes will not resume as normal in January at RDC, but through a blend of online and in-person formats. (Advocate file photo).
RDC to offer a blend of online, in-person classes in January

In-person learning will be upped to 40 per cent

Bojan Pajic, 17, was reported missing. (Photo contributed)
17-year-old Red Deer reported missing

Red Deer RCMP seek public’s assistance

Student taking a math test. (Pixabay photo)
David Marsden: Students need more testing, not less

Testing has been central to Alberta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s… Continue reading

Red Deer AAA Bantam Rebels forwards Riley Yzerman helps teammate William Jamieson, right, celebrate his goal against the Leduc U15 AAA Oil Kings at Servus Arena Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
U15AAA Rebels dominate to open AEHL season

U18AAA Optimist Chiefs also grab first win of 2020-21 season

Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray celebrates running the ball for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Murray has happy homecoming, Cards cruise past Cowboys 38-10

‘Monday Night Football’ debut for Murray

Gillian Robertson celebrates her win over Sarah Frota during UFC 240, in Edmonton, Saturday, July 27, 2019. Robertson used her superior grappling skills to dominate Brazil's Poliano Botelho en route to a unanimous decision win Saturday night on a UFC Fight Night card. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian Gillian (The Savage) Robertson dominates in UFC decision win in Abu Dhabi

Canadian Gillian (The Savage) Robertson dominates in UFC decision win in Abu Dhabi

Most Read