Thai strike against amnesty bill non-existent
13 November 2013, 16:04
Bangkok - A general strike called by the Thai opposition failed to materialise on Wednesday, easing concerns of violence after two weeks of noisy street protests over a political amnesty bill.
The Senate's defeat of the bill on Monday apparently satisfied many protesters. But opponents of the political amnesty, led by the opposition Democrat Party, vowed to continue their campaign against the government that proposed it.
The threat raised fears that Thailand was back on a path to political instability, after years of often-violent political conflicts since 2006.
By mid-afternoon, a few hundred people had appeared at the main protest site in Bangkok, far lower than the tens of thousands who marched in the capital earlier this week.
Police Major General Piya Uthayo said there was no sign that Bangkok businesses, schools or labour unions had heeded calls for the strike.
"The situation is normal," he said. "There hasn't been any state or private agency that has gone on strike yet."
The bill could have led to the return from exile of former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, a polarising figure who was deposed in a 2006 coup and later fled the country to avoid a corruption conviction.
The government of current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister, had backed the bill and pushed it through the lower house on 1 November but then withdrew its support to appease an angry public.
The opposition had called for businesses and schools to close until Friday to allow people to join the strike.
A protest leader, Thaworn Senneam, denied on Wednesday that the strike had flopped.