For those of us who have seen Thai politics up close and personal, it’s obvious the showdown between the anti-government red shirts and the government of PM Abhisit Vejjajiva is about to get dangerous. Red shirts are becoming more and more aggressive and Abhisit is threatening stricter reactionary tactics.
With violent clashes becoming more common and thousands of army personnel being shipped into Bangkok from outside the capital to aid the soldiers already here, it doesn’t bode well for Thailand’s future peace and stability.
In the last week, the red shirt protesters have dug in even further in downtown Bangkok. Having taken over the city center, where most of the upscale shopping malls and hotels are located, they’ve succeeded in shutting down every mall in a two mile radius and most of the top hotels. (Hotels next to the protest site have been closing every day, and shipping their guests to hotels outside the red shirt area.) Red shirts have also erected barbed wire and sharpened bamboo ‘spears’ barricades in an effort to keep out the soldiers they know are coming.
With the main shopping area of downtown Bangkok completely closed and mall and hotel owners losing millions of dollars a day, how long can PM Abhisit reasonably hold out before he has to respond with violence? According to many Thai analysts, not long.
So, if you’re a tourist in Bangkok or going to be, you have three options. Stay away from Thailand completely and head to Malaysia. Or, come to Bangkok, but stay away from the protest areas and hope it doesn’t spread. And number three, come to Thailand but avoid Bangkok and hit the beach areas or mountains instead. At this point, this writer can’t advise you what to do as, in this extremely volatile situation, your guess is as good as mine as to what might happen.