Bangkok Noir – Fear and Loathing
Moving into the weekend, the capital is tense and the confrontation between the pro and anti-government shows no signs of lessening. Both sides are dug in. No independent third force has emerged which could come forward to end the crisis. The political situation is locked in a stalemate, a strange equilibrium, one that threats to tilt one way or the other by the hours, and once the balance shifts, no one at this writing can predict the consequences.
On Friday, there has been chatter about the intervention by the police, air force and navy (under government directive) to remove the demonstrators from the airport. On 7th October when tear gas was used to disperse demonstrator outside of Parliament, two people were killed and hundreds were injured. The deaths and injuries resulted in criticism of the government’s handling of the situation. Since then the authorities have been extremely cautious in the use of force.
But the politics remain fluid, uncertain, charged with high emotions, threats and accusations. No one seems to be completely in charge of the situation. Reports indicate that the government has gone to Chiang Mai. The implications of such a move are significant in itself.
I talked with a number of stranded tourists midday. They were Polish, English and American who were outside a ticketing office of an international airline. They looked confused, disgruntled and afraid. No place to stay, running low on money, and unable to find out when they can fly out of the country. Some of the tourists seemed numb, unable to process what was happening. Flying to another country, it doesn’t occur to most travelers that the airport might be occupied and shut down and the only way out is by train, bus, car or foot.
Like a good crime novel, there are the basic elements of conflict, plot and character. What is missing is resolution. A curtain of darkness and doubt has descended and on the other side there are whispers and movement, a clamoring as if a struggle is going on just out of sight. When the curtain goes up again, the show may go on with a new cast. Alternatively the events might be like those in a noir novel, which is all menace and the characters discover in some universes there is no way out.