This morning, sporadic clashes are still be going on between Thai police and PAD (People’s Alliance for Democracy) protesters. The police are using barbed wire and tear gas. The protesters, for their part, are armed with, "weapons to chase away the evil that has twisted the minds of this government," namely, purple clappers.
If I lived here, I would come understand that the main reason for the formation of PAD, and the on-going anti-government demonstrations, was the corruption of the Thai government, lead by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin, bowed by pressure, is now in exile. He has been replaced by prime minister Somchai Wongsawat. However, Somchai happens to be the brother-in-law of Thaksin. And so the current protest, from what I gather, is about abandoned promised reforms, and the “re-Thaksinisation” of the government.
Well, yesterday morning (not sure if you’re getting this news where you are) the police moved in on the protesters. Instead of lobbing the tear gas canisters, the police fired the cylinders directly at the crowd of 20,000. Many injuries, some serious, and one death–a young female protester. (picture is from Bloomberg news)
The government says the 100-plus injuries were inflicted by protesters running into each other. (However, deputy prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has resigned over the "incident.")
The protesters retaliated by throwing marbles into the police headquarters.
In the mean time, her majesty (Thailand is still theoretically a constitutional monarchy) pledged 100,000 baht to treat all injuries, including paying for a prothesis for one man who lost a leg (presumably by running into a fellow protester).
From what I’m seeing and hearing on Thai TV, (I found a Thai channel in English) the protesters are mostly women sporting yellow shirts and headbands printed with big bold letters which translate as “Save the Country.”
It has the potential to get uglier than it already is. But the Internet is still working, news is getting out, and their is no military music playing on all the channels.
So I’m taking the day to myself, and heading back downtown via Bangkok’s invigorating transit system. (Came back to the Avana Hotel last night, using the transit.)
It will work like this: I’ll catch one of a thousand possible antiquated, rust scarred rolling hulks, resembling buses. To do this I may have to cross a lane or two, buses don’t always stop at the curb. I’ll then be spilled out onto a crowded semi-sidewalk. Pressed in, shoulder to shoulder, I’ll follow the crowd–I don’t have a choice in this–and find a gate that will lead me to a very modern, overly air conditioned, sky-train, that will take me, after a transfer, to Bangkok’s city centre. A place that must be seen to be believed–and makes our place in downtown Edmonton look absolutely rural. (Yup, I’m a small town boy.)
But–having been strongly advised–I’m thinking I’ll stay clear of the Govt. House today.