Thai Police Say One Killed in Protest, AP Reports

Thai Protests
Thai opposition protesters blow whistles as they face off with police deployed to guard the ruling Puea Thai party headquarters in Bangkok on November 29, 2013. Photographer: Christophe Archambault/AFP via Getty Images

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Thai police said one person was shot dead during an anti-government protest, on the same day that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said violence would not be used to quell the demonstrators.

Five people also were injured by the gunshots fired in Bangkok, the Associated Press reported, saying it wasn’t immediately known who fired them or which side the victims were on. National Police Deputy Spokesman Anucha Romyanant said the person killed was a 21-year-old man who had two bullet wounds, according to AP.

Yingluck reiterated an offer of talks as those seeking her ouster besieged state offices in the capital.

“Today, we choose to be condemned as a weak government, not using force and being invaded by protesters,” Yingluck told reporters in remarks carried in a television broadcast yesterday. “It is better than setting a deadline to regain our ground and leading to people’s suffering.”

Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister with the main opposition Democrat Party and leader of the protests, told supporters Nov. 29 that his movement was seeking victory against Yingluck’s administration by today. Suthep has rejected multiple offers from Yingluck for talks to ease tensions over the past month, saying that the demonstrations won’t end until her government and the political influence of Thaksin Shinawatra, her brother, have been removed.

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in several locations in Bangkok yesterday, entering the compounds of the Department of Special Investigation, CAT Telecom Pcl and TOT Pcl, according to Piya Uthayo, a spokesman for the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order. Police officers will not allow protesters to break into key government offices, including Government House and police headquarters, Piya said.

Government Offices

Demonstrators in the capital planned to seize the Prime Minister’s Office, police headquarters and several other government offices including foreign and commerce ministry, Suthep told a rally in Bangkok yesterday. Other protesters outside Bangkok were to take control of provincial government centers, he said.

“Seizure of PM’s office, police headquarters and several ministries will paralyze this corrupted and illegitimate government,” said Suthep, whose comments were broadcast by Bluesky Television network. “Without the works of these key ministries, the government will stop most of its functions and finally collapse.”

Two students at Ramkhamhaeng University were injured from gunshots after a clash with government supporters, Thai-language Post Today newspaper reported on its website, without saying where it got the information. The students were rallying against the government at a compound in the university, while supporters organized a demonstration at the Rajamangala National Stadium, the report said.

Latest Confrontation

The standoff is the latest confrontation in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy between supporters and opponents of Thaksin, a former prime minister who’s lived overseas since a court in 2008 sentenced him to two years in prison for helping his wife buy land from the government. Parties linked to Thaksin have won the past five elections on support from Thailand’s rural north and northeastern provinces. Protests are supported by the main opposition party, the Democrats.

“So far, police officers are enough to control the situation,” Yingluck said, asking protesters not to break into government offices. “There is no need to ask the army to step in yet.”

The protesters on Nov. 29 stormed the grounds of the army headquarters in Bangkok, urging support from the military, which helped to oust Thaksin in a 2006 coup. They left the area without incident.

Economic Impact

“Political unrest has affected consumption, investment and tourism,” Prasarn Trairatvorakul, governor of Bank of Thailand, told reporters in Prachinburi province, 140 kilometers east of Bangkok. “Political protests also have direct impact on sentiment.”

Yingluck, whose party controls more than 300 seats in the 500-member lower house of parliament, survived a no-confidence vote this week over allegations of economic mismanagement, corruption and attempting to pass an amnesty bill that would have exonerated Thaksin of alleged crimes, as well as pardon those involved in the killing of Thaksin backers in 2010.

The Democrats last assumed power in 2008 after a court disbanded a Thaksin-allied party and the army commander called on the prime minister, Thaksin’s brother-in-law, to resign. Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Democrat Party leader, said that his party backed the “uprooting of Thaksin’s regime.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Suttinee Yuvejwattana in Bangkok at suttinee1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stanley James at sjames8@bloomberg.net