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Thailand: How will the airport chaos end?

Some bit of not so bad news: Thailand’s tourism authorities have issued a list of hotels offering accommodation for stranded passengers. A special flight was arranged for Thai Muslim pilgrims to their annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. Foreign governments are making extra efforts to help their citizens.

As of this writing, the airport crisis is still not over. Dozens of empty planes were allowed to leave Bangkok, but protesters still control the two major airports in Thailand.

There are three protest centers in Thailand: The two airports and the Government House. The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the organizer of the protests, has decided to leave the Government House after a grenade blast inside the complex injured scores of protesters last Saturday. PAD will now focus in maintaining its control of the airports. Will police allow PAD members to join their comrades in the two airports?

What is the solution to the crisis? A human rights group asks Parliament to convene an emergency session. There are rumors that a court will issue a decision which would not be favorable to the ruling party.

Oak Monster's Den also heard this rumor:

“Rumors abound that tomorrow (Tuesday) the court will dissolve the current majority political party and therefore sack the PM. Then a coup will follow to mop up the mess, disperse the airport crowd. Then an interim governement. Then election. The Red Shirts aren’t going to like it but that’s the only way to solve the stand off, in my opinion.”

Tourists are able to leave the country through U-tapao airport. This is very far from Bangkok. The situation there is chaotic:

“U-tapao is packed. Traffic is backed up. Tourists are spilled all over the parking lot, lugging their luggage in from the streets. This 1960-built former U.S. airforce base during Vietnam War has only one luggage scanner. A Thai-blog reader contacted me to said that he tried to “drop in” on U-tapao and it was a total nightmare. Anyone heading out should allow themselves a LOT of time to get there and to go through the maze of lines and put up with lots of characters.”

u-tapao
toilet
Portable toilet in U-Tapao airport. See the crowded room inside the airport. Photos from Falling Into You

What is the situation inside the airport blockade? Apparently, passports are no longer needed to enter the airport. Individuals only need to bring a yellow scarf (the color of protest) or a PAD clapper (see video below this article). There was an American tourist who spoke in the PAD program.

Protesters are preparing for a final showdown with the police. They claim they will use human shields to block the police. Bangkok Pundit reports:

“I should note that there is a large number of children at the rallies. What responsible parent would bring their children to a rally knowing there is a possibility of violence? Money is certainly one reason.”

Pro-government rallies are also being held in central Bangkok. Red is the chosen color of government supporters. ~Meaw & More~ visited the pro-government rally and observes:

1. Music, was not as good as PAD
2. I have not seen anyone offered anyone’s money in return. We have been offered a meal in plastic bag, which was not bad, some red banner.

Note
1. The crowd as we saw today are, according to external appearance and some chat, mainly Bangkokians middle class. Some even bother to dress as Santa.
2. Foreign photographers and journalists did not wear bullet proof vests like at PAD.

PAD is vilified by almost everybody outside Thailand. Here is a different opinion on PAD:

“I can say that in all my visits to the PAD rallies, they are not a mob but a predominantly peaceful and respectful group that wants to see a new dimension in Thai politics. While visiting red shirt rallies, while most were genuine, I was approached twice by thugs carrying machetes and steel pipes threatening to beat me if I take pictures.”

An Englishman reminds media to review the kind of democracy which exists in Thailand:

“Just don’t be too hasty to pass judgement on the PAD when the Western media states they are against democracy, because, Thailand's democracy works differently to ours.”

The Prime Minister is trapped in northeast Thailand. Frogblog Thaidings witnessed a government rally in that part of the country”

“Spend a few hours in their presence and you soon end up with a completely different impression. These are people that are genuinely worried about the possibility of their democratic right to vote being taken away.

“They are disgusted by PAD's antics in Bangkok, and the occupation of the airports there in particular. They appreciate the damage being done both to Thailand's reputation and to its economy. Many of them live in borderline poverty, so the slightest set-back can leave them struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis. They feel insulted and degraded by the suggestion that they are simply too stupid and lacking in education to vote for the right reasons.”

He was referring to the proposal of PAD to modify the method of choosing the country’s leaders since they think the poor do not vote wisely during elections.

red
Photo from Frogblogger

The airport crisis in Thailand is affecting other countries too. A tourist decided to enter Thailand by traveling from Singapore by land. Bangkok Dazed adds:

“Obviously the Bangkok Airport situation is affecting other countries in the region as well. If any tourists want to travel to Myanmar, for example, the Bangkok airport is the main gateway. Over in Siem Reap, Cambodia, several of my friends have sent e-mails this week; concerned about my safety in Bangkok, and also worried about a dropoff in tourism over there. My friend Rong works at the airport in Siem Reap and tells me there hasn’t been much to do all week.”

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