Saturday, November 29, 2008

Positive Step for Thailand?

Today a Constitutional Court here in Thailand found the top three political parties (the ones in power basically) guilty of voter fraud in the last election, like a year ago. The penalty for this is that politicians from these three parties are banned from politics for 5 years.

So...the protesters (anti-government) are satisfied that Somchai Wongsawat was forced to step down from the PMship and promised to leave the two airports that they have shut down for the past week, absolutely kiling the economy, tourism, and the image of Thailand to the world. Cargo flights have already begun flying out of the airports and Passenger flights should be able to resume by weeks end.

This all seems like a very positive step. The tricky thing is that now they have to somehow find replacements for the 59 banned members of the government and a new prime minister. They have 30 days to choose a new PM. Their choice certainly must please the masses...especially the folks who have pretty much held the government hostage for several months with their protests and "occupation" of government house and now the airports.

Remember the "Red Shirt" protesters, or the government supporters? It still remains to be seen how they react to the dissolution of the government. Yellow shirt people are happy today and I'm sure that the Red shirts are pretty sore. They've been bussing the Red Shirts from more rural areas in the thousands for a few days now to counter the Yellow Shirts.

There have been seven deaths related to protest brawls and bombs and clashes with the police force. The latest happened earlier today when someone threw a grenade or other high explosive into a group of Yellow Shirts killing one and injuring 22.

One of the saddest things I read today was about a Hong Kong citizen and two Canadians who had been vacationing here and could not return to their countries due to the occupation of the larger airports. They were driving down to a smaller airport in Phuket to "escape" and in two seperate incidents got into fatal car accidents. Dudes just wanted to go home...crashed and died. Sad.

I hope things get better. I hope this dissolution of the government can lead to a better situation for both the Thai people and for those who would still consider Thailand a safe place to spend their vacations (and dollars). I hope I can wear my yellow and red shirts to work soon and not have to look over my shoulder for steel pipe toting thugs. I don't want to have to whip out my kung fu moves! It would perhaps be the first butt-whoppin' I had to put on someone based on a "fashion dispute"!

True story, our school told foreign teachers to wear white all this week. The merchants on our school's road have been refusing to sell to anyone wearing yellow...our road is clearly pro-government. Two roads to the east, closer to our kindergarten is full of anti-government people, there is a clear geographic line between the two "factions" and the foreigners as well as the Thais who are neutral feel it is unsafe to wear either yellow or red lately. With violence peaking this week all over Bangkok, I follow the rules...White for me.

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