picking up the pieces
Now the whole Suvarnabhumi thing is recent history, and last weekend the Democrat party managed to secure a majority alliance of MP’s that were formerly affiliated to Thaksin’s PPP.It was all suspiciously fast and easy. How doth the wind blow this way and that. But they have yet to form a government, and most educated Thais are a bit cynical about the whole thing. One political observer on Thai TV point blank came out with “It depends on who pays more…” which in the States can only be matched by the disgraced Governor of Illinois on TV sound bite when asked about his attempt to sell Obama’s senate seat: “Go ahead and tape my phone calls, be my guest..” For a leader who has been under investigation for 6 years and had just been arrested at 6am that’s pretty bald faced. On the Thai side of rotten corruption issues, Thaksin is in Hongkong, back from the Cambodian side of the border, perhaps smarting that his reincarnated party didn’t pick his sister for leader (or perhaps that was orchestrated too, tho she looked a trifle surprised and left clutching her very expensive looking handbag). But there is next weekend, when he plans to address a Red Rally by videophone linkup. Strap yourselves in, investors. Back to Bangkok – last night at dinner, a friend who works in an executive positon at an exclusive 5 star hotel here told me that they had 7%occupancy, and for the whole month of December a projected 19% occupancy. In the middle of high season. Ouch. Personally my own book projects in Thailand have also been put back on the furthest backburners – who can blame the publishers. I will try and push ahead with personal projects for the time being but I have to say that a cold front has hit the economic climate here which is saddening. It does beg the question, even if there is a political solution that the Thai people will swallow, what are they going to do about the long term damage to their credibility as an Asian Tiger? The timing of all of this could not be worse considering the global context. And not only economically. Take tourism. Western governments (and people for that matter) are so quick to get paranoid – the UK issued a ‘most dangerous place to visit’ ban on Thailand – for what? A basically silly, non-violent occupation of the airport which seemed like it was foregone collusion (no typo): riot police defending the airport simply melted away, the Airport Authorities pretty much closed the airport down on their own (it actually wasn’t one of the demands of the PAD protesters!!!) but left the power and aircon on for a full week (comfortable protest), and so on. Then we had the slightly puzzling spectacle of Major General Chamlong, one of the PAD leaders “handing back the airport” in an official ceremony, with AOT officials smiling (well it is the land of smiles). What with Mumbai and Greece, this was a holiday. What gives, UK government?