Well, I have been in Thailand's capital for two days now and I haven't seen a single bit of trouble. Indeed, the only blood that I've seen shed on these city streets was last night when I hacked off my 4-week traveller's beard.
Given the yellow shirted members of the protesting PAD group are holed up in the 2 main city airports, 15km out of town, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that life in the city centre seems rather calm.
But with the protesters saying they are fighting "to the death" and the PM refusing to resign, creating a (limited) state of emergency and on the verge of ordering force to remove the protesters, this whole situation simply won't end well at all. They will fight, many will die and then the survivors will negotiate. If both parties were able to see the game out to the end, they would cut to the chase and start negotiations now. Fewer corpses that way which can only be a good thing.
Mind you, according to the Bangkok Post, rumours of a coup are starting to circle, especially given the PM has not heeded the Army Chief's suggestion that he should stand down and call fresh elections. That would be a bloodless end to the stand-off but not without its own set of difficulties given Thailand had a coup a few years ago. These things can get addictive it seems.
All in all, everyone looks a bit silly here. The PM looks powerless sitting holed up in Chiang Mai unable or unwilling to do anything of note and the protesters (all unelected) have brought a country to a standstill, damaging its international reputation, on a mere whim. As for the King, I have not heard one word on the situation from the man. I would have thought he could have had some real influence on the situation and helped resolve it by coming down on one side or the other.
So, my overall thoughts on the matter are that it's all just a little bit sad, and tragedy is probably waiting just around the corner for political activists, policemen and army soldiers.
It almost makes you proud of the political apathy back home.
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