Anti-government protesters are no longer in the streets; they have also left the airport premises which they occupied for a week. But Thailand’s political crisis is still unresolved.
The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) occupied Bangkok’s two major airports last November 26. They wanted the Prime Minister to resign whom they accused of being corrupt. A week ago, leaders of the ruling party were found guilty of electoral fraud by Thailand’s top court which led to the resignation of the Prime Minister.
What is now the situation in Thailand?
- Political parties are vying for dominance. They are going to choose a new Prime Minister in the next few days.
- The airport takeover has not only stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers; it has also disrupted Thailand’s tourism industry. Tourism officials estimate that Thailand will lose more than 2 million tourists in the next few months because of the backlash created by the crisis.
- Bangkok is quieter these days, even the shopping malls.
- Residents and visitors are starting to write about their experience and views of the airport takeover. Some are proposing solutions to the crisis.
- The man who was beaten by PAD supporters has been found.
- A blogger who criticizes the actions of PAD received a call from a reader who disagrees with his views. They decided to meet, talk, and drink beer.
- The latest edition of The Economist is banned in Thailand for containing an article which “insults” the King of Thailand.
Reactions from the region
Aaron from Singapore lambasts PAD:
“What the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) did in Bangkok was simply appalling, even by my liberal standards of democracy and human rights. I am all for freedom of speech and even civil disobedience, provided the situation warrants it, but to take a country hostage by seizing airports and disrupting the lives of millions of other people needlessly is simply inexcusable.
“To me, the PAD is like the bands of Somali pirates that hijack ships, or even the group of terrorists that attacked Mumbai…By virtue of their actions, the PAD has effectively disrupted the livelihoods of millions of other Thais, and if you are a poor Thai who depends on tourist dollars to survive, you are basically handed a slow death.”
Luis Teodoro from the Philippines analyzes the crisis:
“Thailand has been far from immune from crisis in its turbulent recent history, which has been peppered with military coups and political violence. The verdict so far is that political unrest will continue despite the king, Thailand being severely divided.”
Unspun from Indonesia notes that the video interview of ousted Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra which was first aired on the internet showed Thaksin’s lack of trust in old media.
A Hiphop group from Vietnam was stranded in Bangkok during the airport takeover. Cambodia’s tourism industry is also suffering because of the crisis. About 1,500 passengers come to Cambodia through Bangkok everyday. Nye Noona, a Lao blogger, narrates her ordeal during the first day of the airport takeover.
I know little of Thai politics, except that it appears, on face value, to be in the hands of a motley hands of self-serving individuals, who have no understanding of their purpose in life. Thaksin may have been as self-serving and as corrupt as all Thai politicians, and sadly most in this increasingly dysfunctional world, but he was able to introduce policies that in many ways benefitted those who previously had no voice.
If anything, this recent madness will have “educated” the previously unheard majority to understand that they also have a power that is to be reckoned. My only hope is that they are allowed to excise this power in a positive and productive manner and avoid the ugliness and total devastation that resulted from the stupidity and unprecedented actions of the “educated” middle Bangkokian minority. People who’s ignorance could be brought for 300 Bht per day. Idiots protected by men who should know better than to allow a dangerous militia to blossom and act against the rule of law. To viciously damage the infrastructure of the country, to render a police force ineffectual. How will all this damage be made good? It will take far more than ever charming Thai smile, that is lost forever.
The end justifies the means, does it? If the end game was to rid Thailand of Thaksin, no one thought of what happens next (The USA and Iraq comes to mind). If Thaksin was so bad for Thailand, it would have been impossible for him to have reeked so much damage on the country as did these activities to run him to ground. He has probably been made stronger by these desperate actions.
I read the Economist article, if it is factual then Thailand should take note and decide if it wants democracy or retain the status quo, which appears to be the serfdom of the masses in the backbone of the country.
For me Thailand is no longer a place I wish to continue visiting, it is lawless, festering in endemic corruption, a once pearl of Asia has turned into a banana republic, seemly overnight. All the unpleasantness that previously took place behind the scene, the lack of human rights, the persecution, etc, has come to the surface.