Thailand’s Airport “Woodstock”

The past four days of PAD’s occupation of Suvarnabhumi airport has been a bit like a party cum middle class woodstock. Grandmas and babies have joined the crowd, even the odd yellow bandana-ed pet. rio-h-nov08115.jpgrio-h-nov08136.jpg Food stands were giving away food and drinks, supplies were brought in by the truck load, the only vehicles to get by the razor wire barricades set up by the PAD. Vendors were making a killing selling the hand clappers, t-shirts, and sundries. On Friday, the fourth day, people were even getting haircuts and having their portraits drawn by artists, and the PAD’s emergency services were providing free clothing. People were sleeping wherever they could. Smiling, starry eyed middle class women and men were going up to reporters and telling them how this was a fight for a just cause, declaring this a “beautiful protest”.rio-h-nov08138.jpg rio-h-nov08143.jpgBut still there is a slightly ominous truth behind it. Thai society has become bitterly divided over the last few months, perhaps even years. The airport alone is losing more than a million dollars a day (they have left the power, air-conditioning, and even the muzak on) from lost revenues – 40,000 passengers a day have been stranded or rerouted. And the implications for Thailands economy isn’t that great either. A couple of businesses which have based their workings on supplying fresh imported goods have already gone bust, the country’s image as a reliable medical centre is damaged, not too mention it’s growing role as a transport and travel hub for Asia. 3000 stranded international travelers will spread the word, and tourism is going to suffer. The tensions between the various factions has led to violence, and eventually the shutdown has to be overcome. BBC has just reported that PM Somchai sacked his police chief this afternoon. So now we sit and wait.

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