Thailand’s anti-government “Red Shirts” expanded their protests and sit ins over the weekend from their traditional rally sites of Government House, Victory Monument and Phan Fa Bridge to the prime commercial precincts of Rajprasong and Vibhavadi.
Important businesses are found there like hotels such as Grand Hyatt, InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Four Seasons, Courtyard by Marriott and Anantara Serviced Suites, malls such as Gaysorn Plaza, Central World Shopping Complex and Siam Paragon as well as hospitals and schools.
As expected, the crowd build up has shut down the shopping centres which fear sudden acts of violence or looting. Hotels such as the Grand Hyatt Erawan has experienced some cancellations, “but not a drastic rate”, Sammy Carolus, executive assistant manager, told Business Traveller. So far, the protesters have kept some streets near the hotel clear, enabling cars to enter the Grand Hyatt’s premises.
“But we are still all affected,” Carolus said.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand, which has been faithfully sending out traffic situationers on its website www.tatnews.org, has listed the following as closed to traffic:
• Chaloemphau intersection where Henri Dunant Road meets Rama I Road to Ploenchit intersection
• Ploenchit intersection
• Rajdamri intersection to Pratunam intersetion
• Pathumwan intersection to Rathaprasong intersection
• Pratunam intersection to Ratchaprsong intersection
• Chidlom intersection to Rathcaprasong intersection
• Saladaeng intersection to Ratchaprasong intersection
• Vibhavadi Rangsit Road: Dindaeng intersection to Suthisan intersection
The most practical way now to reach these areas is by BTS Skytrain or subway.
What was supposed to be a three-day protest action last March 12, 2010 by supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who are demanding for a disolution of the present government, has dragged on. Current prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva met with a group of opposition leaders last week but talks proved fruitless.
Both city airports Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang are reported to be operating normally, a situation carefully monitored by the government, which is desperate to avoid a repeat of the 2008 shutdown of Suvarnabhumi, that time caused by the “Yellow Shirts”.
Margie T Logarta