17 May 2010

Bangkok Burning

Bangkok continues to burn. Grenade attacks are becoming more common. Gun fights are frequent at night and during the day now, too. And the conflict is slowly spreading into other districts of Bangkok.

As the crisis continues to escalate public support appears to be waning for the Red Shirts as even many supporters believe that in trying to force a government dissolution the resulting violence, injuries and death is too higher price to pay. Public opinion is fickle however, and that is why Prime Minister Abbhisit has, up until now, been moving cautiously; should the army be seen as being too aggressive, support from his citizens will quickly diminish and the government would likely fall.

It's impossible not to spare a thought though for those trying to make a living in the affected areas. It's not only the large department stores that employ thousands that have been hit hard, but also a multitude of street-vendors and small traders that have seen sales plummet. Mobs, grenades and gunfire just isn't good for business. Many, of course, have just given up and retreated to the safety of outlying districts. But now they have no income and many will go bust.

Such as, perhaps, the lady who I frequently bought ties from on the main street of Silom. Silom is now a battlefield. Or the vendor who sold excellent fried chicken in Siam where the Reds have made their base. The bank targeted by the Reds will survive- it's one of Thailand's biggest- but I wonder how the staff of the branch where I opened my first Thai account will feel? It was hit by a grenade attack just a few weeks ago. 
*Photos by The Bangkok Post

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