Thai government declares state of emergency in Bangkok

7 Apr 2010

The Thai government has found it necessary to declare a state of emergency in Bangkok, following the break in of Parliament House by anti-government protesters this afternoon.

Earlier in the day, parliament was adjourned after members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), backing ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, surrounded the government compound.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in a telecast a while ago conceded that the implementation of the Internal Security Act (ISA) had failed to prevent escalating activity by the “Red Shirts”. Since last Saturday, protesters have shifted their rallies from the older part of Bangkok to the main commercial areas such as Ratchaprasong packed with upscale shopping malls, deluxe hotels and serviced residences, banks and schools.

Aware that the government had to tread carefully in dealing with protest groups, many of which are made up of the country's rural poor, the prime minister said emergency rule would not mean an immediate crackdown but was merely strengthening the government's hand in enforcing the laws, including the legal proceedings against red shirts leaders.

However, there are sectors of Thai society that wish the authorities would take a tougher stance, such as the retail association whose businesses have been gravely affected by the Red Shirts' occupation of streets leading to the malls. Tourism leaders have warned that to prolong the protests would result in tourists opting for more peaceful destinations such as Bali. 

The prime minister promised to restore the normalcy as soon as possible.

The emergency rule covers Bangkok and surrounding areas Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom.

Margie T Logarta

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