A State of Emergency in Bangkok was declared yesterday by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej following a violent clash between pro and anti-government protesters.
Members of People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have camped inside Thailand’s Government House since last week. They are demanding the resignation of Samak.
The political situation is still volatile but it seems life goes on in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand.
Bangkok Pundit advises foreign governments not to overreact in issuing travel advisories:
“My advice is you are more likely to suffer an injury in a traffic accident – particularly on a motorcycle (not wearing a helmet, driving drunk, and driving in the Islands of course add to the risk) – than to suffer any injury from political violence in Bangkok.”
The Bangkok Bugle is more worried over inaccurate reporting from overseas media:
“There's been no noticeable difference to any other day, except that some of my staff were late because the morning traffic was heavier than usual.
“The road outside my office is certainly quieter than normal for a lunchtime. That could be down to any number of reasons including the closures of nearby schools. But my morning has been very normal; it's business as usual at the moment. What worries me is inaccurate reporting from overseas media.”
Susan Loone from Malaysia observes:
“Public transport workers have joined the demonstrations demanding for the prime minister to resign. And public transport was a big problem for many of our colleagues this morning.”
Bangkok life appears normal, notes Christopher G. Moore:
“This morning and early afternoon driving on Bangkok streets everything appeared, on the surface, normal. People were shopping, eating in restaurants, walking on the streets. But across town in the area around Government House, a different story unfolds. If the story were a noir novel, then it is at the point in the story, where the abject bleakness and despair descends as the main characters seek a final confrontation.”
Wassup Nat? tells readers not to worry too much about the state of emergency:
“Nah… don't worry too much about it. It just sounds worse than it seems. If no one told me this morning, I wouldn't even know it. Still had to work today!
“View from my office window. See – traffic still as normal. Except that there's a police stationed there. Though, I don't know why he was just checking on random motorbikes rather than cars.”
Many government employees have joined the protests but most workers decided to report for work. Go East, Young Woman writes:
“Some protesters labor unions are striking, the buses are almost not running, they are threatening to cut off power and water to police stations and government office.
“The construction workers still showed up to make noise renovating another condo on my floor, however.”
Everything is normal, insists Gay Boy Thailand
“Everything is normal in the Silom area where I live.
“Chalerm said his university Rajapat will be closed for three days. It seems most other schools are closed too.
“Chalerm talked about a curfew but I don’t think that one is announced. Chalerm thinks the army will appear on the streets here like they did in 2006.
“The yellows (PAD) want to disrupt public services such as electricity, transport and airports. So far they have done this in other parts of the country but I have not noticed any difference in downtown Bangkok.
“I am not too concerned about the situation. I believe it is more controlled and orchestrated than it looks.”
Good news for moviegoers. The ongoing Thai Short Film & Video Festival would not be cancelled.
My Life in Bangkok on how Bangkok operates in bubbles:
“Here in the business district, there is no inkling of protests – except for the affect on the Thai economy and stock market. But physically, no sign of distress. Near my home? life goes on as per usual. Sunny bright days in Bangkok.”
Power and water have been cut off several times. Pink Hearted Passages writes:
“Businesses are doing strange things too, like some buses who were told they couldn't raise the prices recently by the government, have taken advantage of the chaos to do just that….I have lots of friends who are frustrated and stuck with missed / canceled flights but that seems to be the worst of it so far…..we are being told to expect some blackouts and already the water has been shut off a couple times (strange retaliation by government?)”
The Ramblings of a Byron lives outside of Bangkok:
“I think the government tried to shut down the internet here last night, (to avoid anyone spilling the plans for declaring a state of emergency this morning), and my pay TV service is down. It's all very reminiscent of the 2006 coup. I believe there was a newscast where the PM announced his plans for the state of emergency, but it was Thai language and a Thai TV station.
“So anyways, because I don't really go to Bangkok or live in a tourist'y area, none of it really affects me, (or at least it isn't yet).”
My Thai Life agrees that Samak should resign:
“Yep, seems that there are huge protests going on in Bangkok and Phuket and they closed the Phuket airport. All this for the sake of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej who in my humble opinion should step down. He seems to be causing more bad than good but again, it’s just my opinion.
“What will come of these politics in Thailand? I know that I will won’t leave and that this is my home. Thailand will survive this political instability and believe me, people will still continue to come here.”
SilapaJarun.com believes the government orchestrated the violence to justify the declaration of a state of emergency:
“It's clear that Samak engineered this violence to justify declaring a state of emergency as well as a curfew and the possibility of using deadly force against supporters who have unmasked him, his administration and his daddy Thaksin.”
He adds that the real battle is in the courts:
“While everyone is watching protests—the truth is the fight is in the courts. Both Samak and Thaksinhave several court cases coming up nevermind the fact that Thaksin's wife is an escaped convict.
HaPPi like a HiPPo shows why use of violence to disperse rallyists is unjustified:
“The protesters look harmless. Some of them only have an umbrella for self defense, and the rest have nothing more than a yellow “Ku Chart” head band. They're not even charging ahead, just sitting there.”
Inside the protest camp, Newley Purnell observes:
“Despite the fact that gatherings of more than five people have been prohibited, the protest felt much like a carnival: protesters clad in yellow — a color that represents their beloved King — stood in front of a large stage and listened to various speeches. Others relaxed under tarps and clapped, chatted, and snacked. Riot police stood by a few blocks away.”
Many foreigners in Bangkok are secretly supporting Samak, yet many local citizens want the prime minister to step down. absolutelybangkok.com discusses this issue:
“I cannot help but feel astonished at the fact that many foreigners in Thailand quietly side with the Samak government, whereas most Bangkokian Thais condemn the Samak government downright instinctively, naming “corruption” and “bad” as the main reasons without being able to list proper arguments and facts.
“What do foreigners not see what Thais see. Fed by different media outlets, are farangs just not truly aware how deep the divisions and hate in society really are?”
Its time for the King to intervene. New Mandala writes:
“Worryingly, while his majesty’s government is under siege, the king and his privy councillors have maintained a detached public silence.
“He usually stays away from politics but the king is interventionist when it suits.
“What the king says undoubtedly matters. However what goes unsaid can be just as important.
“The king is silent again. Not one word of disavowal. Not one attempt to restrain the mob that protests in his name.
“Today the king should not wait for more ordinary Thais to suffer the consequences of brinksmanship. The People’s Alliance for Democracy is goading the Samak government to over-react. With the real possibility of more bloodshed in Bangkok in the days ahead, the king’s silence is baffling. His lifelong reservoir of charisma is no good to his people if he does not call off the anti-democratic provocateurs acting in his name.”