I’m sure you have heard about the protests in Bangkok. Just last year the military coup was in the news all the world when ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted.
In very simple language to common belief was that Thaksin sold shares of his company worth more them $ 1 billion to Singapore investors. Just before making this deal he passed a law that resulted in him not having to pay taxes for this deal.
Now this is the story that was in the news. The chefs that got sold were actually owned by Thaksin’s wife, but everybody knew that he was the one running the show.
Whether you believe this story or not, the fact that he sold such a major stake in important sectors like telecommunications and media to another country was turned against him. Thailand is not for sale was a common slogan.
Fact is that there were two very powerful groups of people. Both groups have a lot of money and a lot of power. But they had a conflict of interest. And that is more or less what the current protests are also about.
After the military coup the people of Thailand voted for a party that was basically founded by ousted Prime Minister Thaksin. And many people believe that he was still pulling the strings behind the scenes.
Of course the people who started the protests against Thaksin in the first place where an all too happy to see that. They called the new prime minister a marionette. And they went on the street and protested a lot.
They even took hostage of a government building. But the government reacted very mild to that. They did not use military or police force, but instead surrounded the government building and just waited until the protesters would come out themselves.
Now you have to be aware of the fact that the currently ruling party can’t be too sure off the support of the military. So they don’t want to act very strongly against these protesters. And they don’t want to use violence to shut up the protesters. Because this might cause the military to step up against them and lead to another coup d’etat.
At the same time they can be too lax in their policies, handling those protesters.
Recently, people died in the course of these protests. One protester had a bomb that went off accidentally and she got killed. As you can see this is a serious situation.
And that is also the reason why Thailand’s economy is very weak these days. Investors don’t like to spend money in a country that can’t offer them security for their investments.
Add to that the worldwide economic crisis ahead and it’s easy to see that currently the political and economical situation in Thailand isn’t too good.
However, traveling there is still safe in my opinion. The protests are restricted to one area, most districts of Bangkok are not affected at all. And outside of Bangkok there really aren’t that many protests going on.
In the south of Thailand there is a problem with violent muslims. There are bombings and shootings every month and thousands of people have died in the course of the last years. But this is a completely different subject from what is happening in Bangkok right now. All the tourist places are safe currently and people are still enjoying their vacation. So despite the recent movie “Bangkok Dangerous”, Bangkok isn’t really that dangerous and in fact has one of the lowest crime rates in the world for such a big city.
I hope that this article helps you to understand the current situation in Thailand better. For more information on what’s going on in Bangkok just visit the Bangkok news website.
This website is written by an assistant professor in Bangkok who is opposed to the protests and pro-Thaksin. So it might not be the most balanced view of things. But it is a very informed and thoughtful overview on political happenings in Bangkok. You might want to balance that with other news sources about Bangkok, like the Bangkok Post or The Nation of Thailand.