THIS IS THAILAND
A Week in Review: May 22-28, 2010
With the red shirt occupation of Bangkok finally at an end, life has been slowly returning to normal in the Thai capital. But is Thailand really ready to forgive and forget? Read our week in review here...
As the Thai government made good on its promise to bring as many criminal elements to justice as possible, forty-five red shirt supporters were arrested last Saturday for their part in an arson attack on Udon Thani Provincial Hall and Municipality during the immediate aftermath of the red shirt protests in Bangkok.
Back at the recently liberated Rajaprasong site in central Bangkok, thousands of ID cards were found hidden in a sewage drain, providing support for claims that some protesters had been prevented from leaving by red shirt guards who had confiscated their ID cards.
As the cleanup operation continued, any lingering arguments that it had been a peaceful protest faded quickly with the discovery of a whole arsenal of weapons, including knives, assault rifles, ammunition, several grenades, four car bombs and 318 handmade bombs.
Indeed, it was to become a week of statistics as the damage from the previous 10 weeks was assessed. A total of 85 people (74 civilians and 11 security personnel) had lost their lives, and another 1,402 (991 civilians and 411 security personnel) had been injured.
On the financial side, the government announced that it expects to pay out around 50 billion baht in compensation to Thai businesses and entrepreneurs from the affected areas of Bangkok, while property damage from riots, both in Bangkok and across Thailand, was initially estimated at between 50 and 60 billion baht.
With the damage assessed, it was time for the healing to begin and on Sunday, an estimated four thousand Bangkok residents voluntarily joined Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) staff to take part in a massive cleanup campaign under the theme “Together We Can”. Among the Thais and farangs who joined forces to clean up several weeks of accumulated rubbish, vandalism, graffiti and arson, there was a general sense of relief that their city had finally been freed from the red shirt occupation.
By Monday, life was getting back to normal in Bangkok with most schools and businesses reopening and public transport running limited services.
Also on Monday, the opposition Puea Thai party filed impeachment and censure motions against the Prime Minister and 5 other members of his government. Even though Puea Thai admitted that they do not expect the motion to be successful, it is hoped that the televised session will uncover the truth behind many of the key incidents during the ten-week demonstrations.
On Tuesday, Thaksin was officially charged with terrorism. Interestingly, Arisman, Jatuporn and Nattawut were not charged, which had some suggesting they had perhaps sold their leader down the river in return for their own freedom.
Other arrests included Australian, Conor David Purcell, and Briton, Jeff Savage. Purcell, believed to be a former sniper with the Australian military, was under investigation for his role in the troubles after he had spoken on the reds’ main stage. Savage was arrested after he bragged on a video that he was going to loot and burn Central World Plaza, just a few days before it actually happened.
The rest of the week degenerated into a war of spin as Thaksin came out to deny being the leader of the red shirt movement or having any role in their activities. He also spoke to Australian, American and European media in his usual attempt to portray himself as an innocent victim.
With more than a degree of irony, it was in fact amendments made to the Criminal Code by Thaksin himself that made it possible for the current government to charge him with terrorism. In order to deal with the yellow shirts during his time as PM, Thaksin had overseen amendments that made any actions that affect state properties, disrupt public transport, or cause serious damage to the economy, among others, as acts of terrorism.
Friday saw another step forward in Bangkok’s healing process when Silom Road was closed to traffic so that traders who had been affected by the recent arson attacks could set up temporary stalls. The whole street was transformed into a bustling market with thousands of Bangkok residents turning out to take part in their obsession of hunting for bargains.
The final news of the week was that the BMA announced it was going to sue the red shirts for 185 million baht in damages caused during their 10-week protests.
While Bangkok is slowly healing, one can’t help but feel that the rural reds are still hurting. There is talk of reconciliation and narrowing the social divide, but unless there is quick and tangible action to support the rhetoric, this saga may yet have a sting in its tail.
Paul Snowdon – May 29, 2010
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Have your say...
28 Nov 2015, 04:49
That's so tragic. The inetonatirnal adoption laws in several countries are
so stringent. And then you see little angels like this and it's
heartbreaking. You just want to take her home, give her a nice bubble bath,
fill her belly with good food, put her in some warm, soft jammies and
snuggle her all night long. :(