Bangkok Report: Black Songkran, Sunny Thursday
Some in the media have called it Black Songkran. Demonstrations over the traditional Songkran festival turned ugly and violent. Soldiers, APCs, and tanks were in the streets. Buses burnt. Confrontation found the Reds and the military and police on opposite sides (most of the time). Then suddenly it was over as quickly as it started. The demonstration was called off and the protesters in the thousands who had camped out at Government House left, loaded into buses provided by the authorities.
This is a blog devoted to books. There are a number of such political blogs that have given a blow-by-blow account of the events over the last week. Foremost would be Bangkok Pundit which contains a good source of foreign reporting, local Thai newspaper and TV reports as well as the English language newspapers in Bangkok. If you scroll down, you will find a number of related blogs that present points of view on the current political situation.
The pundits will be going through the wreckage and assessing the short, medium and long term damage. For a lot of people it has been difficult to separate what are legitimate political issues that remain largely unresolved and the highly flawed messenger that the Reds used to advance their cause. It is difficult to win over support for legitimate grievance if the main leader has a history inconsistent with supporting democratic reform. The government side would have much more problem if a leader untainted by corruption and a democratic instinct were to emerge in what likely will be the next round in the ongoing battle for the hearts and minds of the public.
I’ve had a lot of email from readers concerned about the situation in Bangkok. If you are planning a trip to Thailand, the risk to a tourist is minimal. Even at the height of the violence earlier in the week, the streets where the action took place was largely localized to a few areas and no one from abroad was injured.