Friday, August 29, 2008

Thailand?! Tomorrow? Yeah, right...

Not that I don't want to go, but it's unlikely that my flight will leave Singapore for Phuket (Thailand) as scheduled tomorrow. Why? Well, it's been closed by protestors, as have 2 other airports in the staunchly Buddhist country. This is a major snag, for I had a flight to Bangkok out of Phuket, and then to Laos from there, and then to other places... I don't know what gonna happen know, but it's unlikely that I'll depart tomorrow, at least that's what I think. Oh well, time will tell.

Below is an article I found in today's edition of the Wall Street Journal documenting the recent maelstrom in the kingdom:

"Thai Protests Spread, Shut Airports
By JAMES HOOKWAY and STEPHEN WRIGHTAugust 30, 2008; Page A5

BANGKOK -- Waves of antigovernment protests spread beyond Thailand's capital Friday as clashes between police and demonstrators intensified, forcing the closure of several regional airports and disrupting rail services.

The escalating political confrontation threatens to destabilize the popularly elected government of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and could begin to undermine the country's economy, especially the vital tourism sector, which is vulnerable to any prolonged disruption of air travel.

The latest round of demonstrations began Tuesday, when opponents of Mr. Samak attempted to seize a state-run television station and about 30,000 protesters took over a number of government buildings, including Mr. Samak's official headquarters at Government House. About 10,000 people were still occupying the grounds of the prime minister's office Friday night.

The protesters, led by a group called the People's Alliance for Democracy, are demanding that Mr. Samak resign because of his close connections to Thailand's ousted former premier, telecommunications billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, who is in Britain seeking political asylum to evade criminal corruption charges in Thailand.

Mr. Thaksin, one of Thailand's most divisive political figures, introduced populist politics to the country and served five years as a powerful premier before being ousted in a military coup in 2006. The antigovernment protesters accuse Mr. Samak, who was elected after the restoration of democracy in December last year, of acting as proxy for Mr. Thaksin. They strongly oppose Mr. Thaksin and Mr. Samak's populist brand of politics, which has attracted a huge following among poorer rural Thais, contending that it is undermining the influence of Thailand's traditional ruling establishment -- the widely revered monarchy, the civil service and the armed forces.

Friday, demonstrators clashed with police on several new fronts, widening the battlelines. About 2,000 demonstrators marched on Bangkok's police headquarters Friday in the center of the capital after law-enforcement officials tried to break up the protest at the Government House. Police warded them off.

Other demonstrators closed down three provincial airports -- including those at the beach resorts of Phuket and Krabi in the country's south. Canceled flights stranded thousands of local and foreign travelers as Thailand gears up for the beginning of its peak tourism season. Tourism accounts for about 6% of Thailand's economy and is a major earner of foreign exchange.
Rail workers have also gone on strike, deepening the sense of crisis now engulfing Thailand's government.

Thailand's stock market closed slightly higher Friday, recovering from early losses after morning clashes between police and protesters didn't escalate until after trading hours.
But the benchmark stock index has fallen more than 20% since late May, when the People's Alliance began its campaign to force Mr. Samak from power.

Mr. Samak, facing the sternest test of his seven months in power, told reporters he wasn't ready to declare a state of emergency to try to contain the demonstrations. But he said he would reassess the situation Sunday.

"I'll not let the situation get worse. When it comes to a certain point, I'll take care of it," the 73-year-old Mr. Samak told reporters after two meetings with the country's military chiefs to discuss the rising tension.

Thailand's political unrest is beginning to hurt the economy, the head of the central bank's domestic-economy department, Amara Sriphayak, said Friday. "We're monitoring the situation, as the politics affects confidence and tourism," Ms. Amara told a news briefing. 'The extent of the impact will largely depend on [whether there is] violence.' "


Vitaly said...

FUCK. I hope all that political clusterfuck would not be an obstacle for you to bang some slut over there... I am envy you, shit too bad I am broke :(

Yury said...

Yeah, I just didn't expect to get to Thailand THIS fast... Nu nichego strashnogo, if I do bang anyone, to ya tebe obyazatel'no soobshchu. Inache i byt' ne mozhet, Pupsik! Haha...