Thai parliament chaos over reconciliation debate


The Thai parliament was thrown into chaos for a second day Thursday, as lawmakers clashed over plans to push through a reconciliation debate that threatens to widen the country’s bitter divides. Proposals, ostensibly aimed at healing the rifts that have seen Thailand shaken repeatedly by bloody civil unrest since a coup in 2006, have provoked fury among opposition MPs who fear they will open the door for the return of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Police were forced to step in for a second day running, surrounding the house speaker in an effort to protect him as MPs threw bundles of paper at him after he announced that the debate would go ahead early Friday. The incident, widely broadcast on Thai television, overshadowed an address by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra — Thaksin’s sister — to the prestigious World Economic Forum on East Asia that is being held in Bangkok. The fracas within parliament has been accompanied by a show of strength on the streets outside from thousands of ultra-royalist, anti-Thaksin “Yellow Shirts” and their affiliates, whose protests have helped topple three governments. The Yellows have warned they will try to enter parliament in an effort to disrupt a possible vote, although it is not clear whether they will carry out the threat. “Please be patient and trust us, when our time comes when the D-day comes, we will not lose,” said Panthep Puapongpan, spokesman for the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the Yellow’s official name.