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.
- 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.