Red Shirts Paralyze Central Bangkok, Malls Closed

Picture of #redshirts in front of Central World looking south to the stage/intersection (Courtesy of Richard Barrow)

This is (yet) a(nother) make-or-break situation for the anti-government protests by the red shirts as they roamed the streets of Bangkok yet again at the beginning of their fourth week (and since we already have April, it makes the wordplay ‘Red March’ redundant). On Saturday tens of thousands have gathered and are now blocking the area around Rajprasong Intersection, a large commercial district in central Bangkok with the largest shopping malls (Central World, Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Siam Discovery, MBK, Central Chidlom etc.). Most of these malls have closed now and looking at the pictures coming out of there, the roads are now a sea of reds.

(Pictures courtesy of Richard Barrow)

One notable incident today was an 18-year old boy running his Porsche into a few parked red shirt motorcycles. AP has pointed out this interesting bit:

Police, who found a handgun in the car, later identified the driver as Thanat Thanakitamnuay, grandson of prominent businessman and former Deputy Prime Minister Amnuay Viravan.

This is just what’s wrong with this country. A rich man can drive into protesters and get away,” said Sakda, a factory worker from suburban Bangkok. He declined to give his full name.

Thai protesters occupy capital’s commercial center“, Associated Press via Washington Post, April 3, 2010

The quote is hardly surprising and the symbolism of this incident is also very obvious. As for the brat who has driven the Porsche, I predict that daddy will sort everything out for him. Shame for the car, though.

Meanwhile, the red shirts have vowed to stay overnight at the Rajprasong Intersection despite the government saying they have gone “too far” with the most recent blockade and also imposing a deadline for the protestors to leave at 9 PM Bangkok time. As of writing this blog post, the deadline has passed but police have announced that the negotiating talks with the red shirts failed as they refuse to leave (duh!). Police will try to talk again on Sunday morning.

It is the first time the red shirt protests have become a real inconvenience for the people of Bangkok as the protestors have now occupied the real heart of the city around Rajprasong Intersection, Rama I Road and Ploen Chit Road. The area is not only a busy commercial district with high-profile shopping centers, malls and hotels, but also the intersection of the two BTS lines (Siam), the location of the Erawan Shrine and thus, needless to say, a popular area among tourists. This weekend will be interesting to watch how long the patience of Bangkokians will last until the ongoing protest of the red shirt will start to backfire and lose support.

Further Reading:


4 thoughts on “Red Shirts Paralyze Central Bangkok, Malls Closed

  1. I lived in Bangkok from 2004 to 2007. The poor people from the NE do tend to like Thaksin because he gave them low-interest development loans when he was prime minister, and his (former) telecom company is the only one that provides service in the rural parts of the country. But, this is not the popular uprising it may appear to be to an outsider reading this story. The red-shirt protesters are paid to protest. The going wage was 1,000 baht (USD 30) per day when I left in 2007, according to my Thai friends. They are also paid to vote in the elections — up to 2,500 baht per vote is what I’ve heard from the Thais. This is why Thaksin’s party wins every election. (The other parties buy votes as well; Thaksin and his friends just outspend them.) These protests are a farce.

  2. Just lovely, so predictable, the govt lets them do it, they made it clear since weeks … Everyone has to take blame. Good part being, Whoever considered him- or herself potentially red is most certainly turned off by those actions. That’s hardcore stuff, nothing for the majority. Well done reds. More of the same and you’re buried. Has nothing to do with justice and the end of double standards. This is the path of vengeance – for one man. People get reminded, maybe there was a reason for the coup.

    By the way, whoever didn’t live in Thailand under Thaksin shall think twice before thinking about Thaksins pros and cons.

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