Anti-Thai government protesters have refused to budge from their occupation of Bangkok’s Rajprasong and Vibhavadi areas despite pleas by mall owners there to free up the place and allow traffic and business to resume.
Since Saturday, April 3, 2010, the “Red Shirts” have been camping around one of the city’s most important commercial and tourist-oriented precincts (see news), which is home to popular and luxurious shopping centres such as Gaysorn Plaza, Central World Shopping Complex and Siam Paragon. Millions of baht are being lost daily with about 1,000 shops having had to shut down since the weekend, estimates the Thai Retailers Association. Also suffering are about 5,000 employees who are paid by the day.
With Songkran – the Thai New Year – to be celebrated on Saturday, April 10 and fears that the rallyists will stay put, it doesn’t look to be a joyous few days ahead for the nation’s capital.
Today, the protesters intend to march at 11am through 11 major thoroughfares which the government has banned them from entering. These are Rama IV, Sathorn, Silom, Surawong, Charoen Krung, Ratchadamri, Phaya Thai, Asok, Rachadaphisek, Din Daeng, Thawimitr. Such action is likely to again bring ordinary activities in Bangkok to standstill. Residents are asked to take the BTS Skytrain or subway if they have to go to work or school.
Hotels in the Rajprasong neighbourhood such as the Grand Hyatt Erawan, InterContinental, Four Seasons, Holiday Inn, Centara Grand and Renaissance among others have expectedly seen cancellations. A hotelier told Business Traveller: “If they haven’t cancelled their trip altogether, the guest probably just books in one of the riverside hotels.”
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Margie T Logarta