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Thailand: Airport takeover and Twitter

Anti-government protesters led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have overtaken two major airports in Bangkok. The airports remain closed stranding thousands of passengers. Bangkok is a major transport hub in the region.

Twitter has become an interesting and good source of information about what is happening in Thailand. Twitter users in Bangkok have been exchanging travel tips, news updates, and opinions about the current situation.

Those who are stranded in the airports and those who have experienced difficulties travelling to Asia because of the recent political developments in Thailand have been using Twitter, among other online tools, to ventilate their emotions and gather news updates.

Compared to a single comprehensive blog article, a tweet doesn’t much provide information. But reading a good number of tweets can help provide an interesting sample of the collective sentiments of residents in a city or even country.

Below are some of the Twitter updates from Bangkok:

Because of the chaos in the airports, a colleague of Escribitionist had to change his travel plans:

my colleague in singapore is booking airasia flight from singapore to phuket for another colleague to fly back this Sunday”

he's worried about this and i do not think he would come to bangkok anytime soon.”

“lol.. my colleague in singapore who was supposed to come today sent 2 pics of PAD at the airport via skype

DrRider wonders how can he go back to Thailand:

mourning for Thailand and everybody who loses life”

“I wonder international flight should reroute to Phuket airport, then take other transports to Bangkok”

“Do I need to use military airport?”

“how can I go back to Thailand?”

“@sugree is water in the airport's toilet clean enough to drink?”

P_warawit’s schedule was affected too:

“I did exactly that. I'll need to stay in SG for one more day. But this already screwed several of my plans already. :-“

Some are travelling by land in order to enter Thailand. Leolaksi writes:

“@faay so tired. Many people at Malaysia Thai crossing travelling back to Bangkok. Stuck in Singapore and KL”

“A friend of mine is in Karachi. He is flying to HKG and then Vientiane. By car back to BKK.”

Singapore to Bangkok by car. Now north of KL. Had Yai tonight. Bangkok tomo.”

The situation is very frustrating, some are already crying. Thailand Today reports:

“Many aged Muslims, who have been left stranded inside the Suvarnabhumi International Airport, were seen this morning crying.”

The coup rumor was widely discussed in Twitter. Jfxberns provides some of the updates:

Nation: “Chamlong warns police of people's uprising if protesters forcefully dispersed.” Wrong, now the public believes “You asked for it.”

Thai Airways International estimates it will lose Bt500 million for every day the airport remains closed.”

From eTTR: “However, contrary to the facts, the TAT governor continues to believe that the country can reach its tourist arrivals target.”

Situation seems intractable. PAD becomes more of a mob by the minute, Somachai's government looks more and more powerless and ineffective.”

PAD responds to Somchai's broadcast. “Oh, state of emergency? Oh my! OK, we are leaving. No–you go first. We'll follow right behind you.”

“'The military have moved tanks for strategic purposes but I can confirm that there is no coup and the military has not been ordered to b”

Nothing happening yet–but lots of rumors, government employees told to go home early. The feeling is a lot like before last coup.”

“I understand that PAD is angry, they are being attacked with grenades. But alienating the common people does not help their cause.”

“Does anybody else think that PAD's image is starting to look more like a Mafia Mob rather than a Protest Mob?”

Fixedup identifies the mistakes of the protesters:

I love Thailand, imagine the bloodshed if people tried this in another country!”

“Bed time for me, I hope Thailand gets better soon!”

“The mistake they made was inconveniencing travelers. Its one thing to protest and another thing to disrupt public Transportation”

Rico Flan thinks Thailand has committed an economic suicide:

“Watching Thailand commit economic suicide. When will this farce end? BANANA REPUBLIC.”

Anasuya,a journalist, comments:

“It's a real shame–the fallout from this will be immense. I think tempers are starting to flare at the airport.”

“PAD storm control tower at S'bhumi, trying to find out which flight Somchai might be on”

Sweetener demands:

give back airports to me”

Thai Coup reacts to the state of emergency declared by the government:

“Didnt really know you could declare a “State of Emergency” covering 2 buildings. Historians take note!

“Suvarnabhumi Airport to remain closed until Nov 29

Public Advisory: When in Thailand avoid wearing read or yellow…. Wearing Orange will get u whacked from both sides” (Note: Yellow is the color used by the protesters. Red is used by supporters of the government)

Civil Court orders PAD to leave Suvarnabhumi Airport immediately… Like thats worked before ;)”

Baramunchies wants to look around the airport:

“tempted to go to the airport and look at the situation.”

“so if pad wins thailand will have a totalitarian government that does not need majority decisions, but made out of extremely intelligent and high moral standard people? don't know that is a good outlook.”

“i think thailand just made a huge step backward.”

“will there be an anti pad movement that is not pro thaksin???” (Note: Thaksin is the ousted leader of Thailand. PAD organized the rallies in 2006 which led to the coup which ousted Thaksin)

Jon Randy wonders if a rock event will push through:

“I've got a feeling that after the October mess, the police are reluctant to do anything other than ASK them to leave” (Note: Last October the police violently dispersed a rally by PAD. This incident generated public sympathy in favor of the protesters).

“I think it is now totally irrelevant why anyone wants the govt. to resign – they should do so now as they have proved they are totally inept

“Does anyone know if “Bangkok Rock 100″ is still going ahead? How will the headline artists get here?”

Luke_bkk writes about the tank sightings in Bangkok which probably fueled speculations of an imminent coup:

“OK, I was told the tanks were close by but seems they are not close enough. Someone needs to take photo with happy tanksgiving and tanks.”

“if the people protesting put this much effort into winning elections we might not be in this mess.”

“Love the fact everytime anything interesting happens in Thailand the Bangkok Post website falls over. They really need to learn to cache.”

I dont hate the PAD or anyone else, im just sick of dead end Thai politics getting in the way of real issues.”

“How bloody stupid are the PAD, running around with guns? Going to scare the tourists away at a time when the economy is about to go down.”

Tewson on the consequences of what PAD did:

“from now on, people will hijack things to get what they want.”

“and if the law is against them, they will just condemn the law as it is not righteous.”

Erl is not amused:

“thailand is the land of freedom. you may take over airport whenever you want.”

need to leave thailand next wednesday for a visa trip. options are limited if airports are still blocked… laos? malaysia? singapore?”

“even if a country is a big mess, for most people life goes on as normal. the mood changes though, optimism turns into pessimism.”

  • http://www.twitter.com/bangkok twitter.com/bangkok

    good post that shows how the media landscape is changing… if you stick with the big media, you get news a lot later.

  • http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/11/28/thailand-airport-takeover-and-twitter/ Larry Simpson

    Thailand is a deeply spiritual country that has been trying to become a democracy for 70 years. The issues, behind the breaking news, are complex. The current government is a puppet of the Thaksin reign. The convicted felon is still excerting power through his brother-in-law. Thaksin stole billions and killed thousands of Thais. The Army and the Police seem to understand the past and the present…..right now. PAD has no choice but the fight for the future of Thailand by any means possilbe. Chamlong and his fellow leaders are good people who truly love Thailand and the people. I fear the events will become very deadly soon and I will shed tears, with most Thais, as the wonderful country and culture fights its’ way to a government \for the people and by the people\.

  • http://www.ricefieldradio.com Marty

    Larry you spout the same line as the PAD gives out constantly. The bottom line is the PPP won an election that the military worked very hard to make go their way. P-Net the independent organization that monitors elections has said all along that the elections were free and fair. Part of the PAD’s platform is that the PPP bought votes. It is well known that all parties bought votes but less money changed hands than in any previous election.

    The PAD which has a now quickly flagging support base, according to today’s polls, has resorted to terror tactics and is holding the country hostage.

    PAD DOES have a choice, they could form a party and contest an election. The problem with that is their support base, the same one as the democrats, is only in the south and they would split the vote of the Democrats allowing the PPP or ? to win a huge majority in the house.

    PAD through their Democrat allies can only hope to come into power by some undemocratic means as they cannot win at the ballot box. Thus the PAD’s New Politics that would disenfranchise the majority of the Thai voters, who just happen to be poor, rural and PPP supporters.

  • http://www.infowars.com Chris in Utah

    Marty your whole argument implies you need partisan politics at all. How else do we arrive at objective decisions you say?
    Civics Lesson 101 for ya in “choice”:
    Congress / Judicial / Executive

    All else is rhetoric.

    If holding a 17 point airport is a “terror” tactic get back to me. If you noticed the videos the police backed off. The army has explicitly said no intervention is needed in political matters.

    Oh and another thing… People do not have to illicit change by asking somebody else to do it for them. Little thing called personal liberty; this is not anarchy when every respects each others’s liberty. Thus, in reality “Fire Congress”. There is no need to make laws when they are self evident. The idea of clarity isn’t told to you. You seek answers.

    You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself.
    Leonardo da Vinci

    Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.
    – Martin Luther King Jr.

    You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself.
    Leonardo da Vinci
    Hu RAH!

  • Jak in Bangkok

    Marty is right on the money. What medication is Chris on?

  • http://www.ricefieldradio.com Marty

    Chris….

    In Thailand every group has taken sides and split the country north south, rich poor and rural urban. If you think that taking over an airport is an acceptable practice, get back to me. And then tell me what would happen to you if you and a few friends took over LAX.

    You obviously are from the US as there is no Congress here, there is little if any rule of law either. You probably don’t have a problem with the constitutional court deciding to rule on the charges against the three ruling parties without allowing or hearing their witnesses. Would that fly in the US? Let me know.

    As you seem to like quotes from those long dead here is one more recent, yesterday, for you.

    “While we respect the right to freedom of expression, seizing an airport is not an appropriate means of protest,”

    Gordon Duguid
    US State Department

    And as you like Dr. King.

    “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

    “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

    “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat.”

  • http://www.infowars.com Chris in Utah

    Fine pipe tabacy and caffeine. Did you have something to say there or are we to take your word for it Jak?

  • Staggerlee

    This is a pretty uninteresting article, a real stretch to try to tie the hot tech topic of Twitter to the hot political topic of Thailand.

    The point of Twitter is the value-added it provides with up-close and immediate accounts of breaking events, such as natural disasters and things like the Mumbai attacks.

    These Thai Tweets are pretty boring opinions and useless news.

    For insights into local opinions, the action is on Thai-language web boards. Pantip.com and comments areas on manager.co.th (pro-PAD) and prachathai.com (pro-democracy). Those would be the most prominent, of course there are others.

    If you want English and don’t need the stuff fresh every minute, you look at the very impressive bangkokpundit.blogspot.com and New Mandala blogs. A lot more interesting than these Tweets.

    Twitter can be interesting, but this stuff is pretty lame.

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