News

Protests bring Bangkok to a standstill this weekend

11 Mar 2010

Leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, which backs ousted former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have promised not to seize any airport facility, Government House or any private or government property during mass rallies planned over the weekend

The civil protest, staged by the “Red Shirts” and expected to attract thousands from the countryside, is to take place from March 12 to 14, 2010. It comes just over two weeks after Thailand’s top court confiscated US$1.4 billion worth of Thaksin’s assets, which were frozen after the 2006 that ejected him from power.

Public facilities are not taking any chances, however. Officials of Suvarnabhumi Airport, which was commandeered by rival anti-Thaksin “Yellow Shirts” in late 2008 for a week causing massive travel chaos, said they had put plans into place to prevent a possible blockade starting today and onwards. The mainly domestic Don Muang Airport is also being secured.

A statement from authorities said: “There are concerns that travelling plans of passengers may be disrupted.” They advised international passengers to check in three to four hours before flying.

Visitors already in Bangkok can expect to encounter check points and patrols as well as temporary closure of a few thoroughfares around important government buildings. These will extend to nearby provinces.

Among the areas are to be avoided are Ratchamnoen Nok, Vibhadi Rangsit Road, Rama 9 Road, Samsen Road, Victory Monument, Rama IV, Silom Road and Rajdamri Road.

The Red Shirts say they expect up to 600,000 people to attend the main rally on Sunday but the government estimates that around 100,000 will turn up.

At least 30 countries have issued travel advisories of varying degrees warning against travel to the Kingdom.

Cathay Pacific Airways last night waived all rebooking/rerouting charges on all tickets issued in Hongkong irrespective of fare type on or before March 10, 2010 for travel involving Bangkok until March 16, 2010. At least 30 countries have issued travel advisories of varying degrees warning against travel to the Kingdom.

For enquiries, call the hotline of Tourism Authority of Thailand at 1672 or visit www.tatnews.org

Margie T Logarta

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