I had the rare opportunity to see up close how another country can implode when the political system is broken. Thailand in the Fall 2008 and Spring 2010 protests.
..within a city is apparently easy as long as you have the numbers. The red shirts are digging in, stubbornly.
I was greeted upon my commute by the sight of an entire red village built up on the streets of Bangkok. Some sights to share:
As much as I want to say “I told you so” because I had been the contrarian of my group, convinced that the protesters would not disperse during the Songkran holiday, but build up instead. I predicted they would remain and grow over last week while many suspected the government would attempt to clean house by the holiday. Both predictions turned out to be partially correct.
Instead of earning bragging rights for my astute gauge of the Thai mentality, I now have a growing sense of foreboding that comes with the realisation that my next prediction is this stand-off will not end well for anyone as the red shirts dig themselves more and more into this.
A recent chat with a friend who visits Bangkok often:
Friend: How’s it going in Bangkok, with all the protests.
Me: Quieted down. The day I got back, they lifted the state of emergency.
Friend: They really know how to screw themselves.
Me: It’s almost like they are inclined to do it.
Friend: Take over the government building…
Me: loose some money.
Friend: Take over the airport during peak season…
Me: loose lots of money.
Friend: Take over the ASEAN summit…
Me: loose lots of money.
Friend: Take over Songkran…
Me: loose lots of money.
On a similar vein, there was a mob in Patpong– a huge red light, shopping, and nightlife area- a couple days ago of vendors attacking police officers who had come through in a piracy raid to confiscate pirated goods.
As the economy continues to spiral downward, we may be seeing more of this type of aggression. I’m already seeing the vendors less inclined to bring down prices because the sale may be their only sale.
I feel I ought to excuse myself for my sporadic posting. I certainly am not lacking in topics to cover. But I’m finding it frivolous to talk about small things when we are in the midst of a contentious political crossroads.
The PAD occupation of the airports have been occupying my job and my state of mind a lot lately. There is something disconcerting about being trapped in the city of a foreign country, even if one does reside there. Ultimately, this is not my country and I can’t help feeling a little trapped.
As a result, I have temporarily lost my sense of mild humour in observing cultural differences. The massive cultural differences are being highlighted in the current events, but with my current state of mind, a lot of it simply is not funny anymore.
I could blog constantly about the protests and what little news is associated with it. But I know many of you tune out on repetitious topics. More so if you can sense a constant irritable attitude.
So, please bear with me while I collect my thoughts, find my zen. I’ll be back in full swing as soon as I find my better self.
For the first time in its six month history, PAD protesters stormed Bangkok’s International Airport.
To emphasize how monumental that is, many have assumed that the Suvarnabhumi Airport was some sort of sacred neutral ground. While protesters have sat on roadways leading into the airport in September, they have not disrupted the international travel. When I announced the news to a couple of coworkers, including one who has been living in Thailand for almost a decade, he dismissed me, saying I am confusing it with Don Muang, the old international and now lesser used airport in Bangkok.
No air travel through Bangkok is operating. There has been no mention of transfering any minimum business to Don Muang.
My next thought is how long until the expat community, and ultimately the international community, decide they won’t tolerate this anymore?
10… 9… 8… 7… countdown until parents call in a frenzy demanding I be safe.
The month after he was re-elected, the governor of Bangkok resigns because of corruption charges.
So much for my assumption of a smooth democracy. On the other hand, perhaps one can argue this is an example of a political system working (eh, protesters, anyone).
Reelections held in January.
Speaking of Election Day, alcohol cannot be sold or served, even meaning a complete shut down of the city’s red light districts. Now, DC residents, how would you have dealt with that if that happened on November 4th??
No, I’m not affected directly. It’s almost like saying same-same. In fact, I was so busy at work, I didn’t even know about this until I looked in on the evening news.
I know your next questions.
I don’t understand what’s going on. It’s not a matter of whether I agree or not. I just don’t get it.
Ironically, the same time a surge of violent erupted with the PAD protests, over the weekend, the Bangkok locals conducted a very peaceful gubernatorial election, re-electing the incumbent. More on that in following post.