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The Red Shirts. A Sofa Rant. Of Sorts.

Red Shirt Rant

A rambling rant…

Due to the deaths in Bangkok this weekend, my time-stamped posts for Wednesday and Friday have been rescheduled for a more peaceful time. Instead, you get the below: A ramble, a sofa rant, of sorts.

But before I get into it, please let me offer condolences to those who lost family members in this weekend’s tragedy. Red, Yellow, and otherwise. Because if you’ve spent any time on WLT, you’ll know that my sympathies are with the Thai people. All Thai people.

The displays of violence – from both sides? three sides? – was deeply disturbing. It was especially so for me because I’m not into blood (which is why I bailed out of taking videos when the gathering and splattering was introduced).

Some say that even with promises of peace from both sides, the bloodshed was inevitable. And I agree. But Thais killing Thais is tough to take, no matter what.

Finally fed up and fussing…

The tension from the Red Shirts didn’t start right away with me (mid-March). But by the first week of April, I was in full seething mode. I’m sure that a part of my temper was due to the heat of the season, because it has been HOT, HOT, HOT!

But what finally set me off was listening to my favourite vendors and business owners talk about their miserable loss of revenue over this past month. Their anger is aimed at the Red Shirts, but with an odd twist. When it comes to their clients, confusion enters into it too. And after thinking about it, I understood.

Now, these particular vendors are not located in high Red Shirt zones. They are based in areas out of danger. So basically, there are Bangkok residents choosing to stay home and out of the way.

With the dramatic news being reported, living on a Bangkok sofa sort of made sense. But for most of this past month the reports were way over the top. Daily we were treated to alarming headlines, with nadda happening.

Sure, there are Red Shirt hot spots around town. But the hot spots, we know about. For those of you who don’t, it’s easy enough to get a twitter account and follow tweets tagged with #redshirt. That way, you have a better chance of discovering which breaking news is reliable, or not.

Some expats have been treating the Red Shirts as a holiday out (and it’s now Songkran, yes?) Fair enough. Others are waiting it out in the quiet. But amongst it all, there are Bangkok businesses being unnecessarily harmed.

With a little advanced planning, I’ve been able to make my way around Bangkok, doing what needs to be done: Grocery shopping, dental work, getting highlights and a cut.

And with careful thought, all without putting themselves in harms way, others can too.

Previous Red Shirt posts…

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.

14 Comments

  1. Catherine have I missed your LinkWithin widget before or have you just added it to your site.

    ‘..With a little advanced planning, I’ve been able to make my way around Bangkok, doing what needs to be done: Grocery shopping, dental work, getting highlights and a cut….’

    Have you got a dog called Lucky and a cat named Riley. I include the dental work in that because here in the UK it’s so expensive.

    Like you my sympathy goes out to those and the families of the unfortunate ones who lost their lives during the height of last week’s rioting.

    I’m sure the business vendors are struggling right now and it must hurt to miss out on the higher rewards that the Songkran Festival would normally bring, but there are plenty of red shirts putting their livelihood at risk by camping out in Bangkok night after night.

    Let’s hope there is some kind of quick settlement to the whole mess pretty soon because the country needs one and the cushions on your sofa might end up with bleach stains. That could be costly.

  2. Martyn, LinkWithin has been there a good long while (but I forget just when).

    Bangkok has been ok this past month (and I don’t believe personal luck comes into it much at all).

    I do have a Red Shirt driver, but most taxi drivers claim to be Reds so he’s nothing unusual. What he is though, is careful. When we stopped by the Red Shirts at Paragon this past Friday, he asked how safe it was at the barricade first. Safe enough (but I did not wander around).

    The Red Shirts from elsewhere might not be making much by being in Bangkok. But… ah… the rumours of Red payouts come to mind, yet again.

    And remember: A high percentage of people from Issan are living and working in BKK (I was told verbally, but since I can’t find a quote I’ll skip the percentage). So the downturn in clients this Songkran will hit them too (those who are working).

  3. Catherine I can vouch for the high percentage of Isaan’s Bangkok workers. On my Christmas trip I was due at Suvarnabhumi on January 4th but every flight and bus from Udon to Bangkok was fully booked. We rented a car to travel down and left Udon very early but hit traffic jam after traffic jam. Isaan was returning to Bangkok and I missed my flight.

    Red payouts….Mr T will have to get a part time job at this rate. It must all be costing him a fortune. Those clapping feet must have cost a pretty baht to design.

    That’s it from me for a few hours. I’m off to the pub for a few beers but first I’ve got to pick up £40 I won on a football bet. It’s true what they say, a gambler only tells you about the winners.

  4. Martyn, I remember back when you missed your flight. And you were sick as well (totally a better man than I for trying to make your plane anyway).

    I do believe that Bangkok depends on the Isaan people. Has anyone read anything on this? Because I really would like to know more.

    Congrats on winning your bet! I was a wee thing when I won a football pool. The guys waiting for results at my pub (the Fox and Goose) were devastated. Heh.

  5. Cat, I have to believe that Bangkok is very dependent on Issan people from many aspects of tourism to city workers. It has to be tough on a lot of people dependent on tourism in Bangkok right now and I can’;t imagine they are too happy about it.

    As you say you can get around and that’s a good thing but there still has to be that small fear in the back of your mind when you are out that you don’t know what you may run in to. There is a very good chance I may be in Bangkok within the next month and that could be even scarier :)

    Stay safe on your travels out dear…it wouldn’t do to have you getting hurt or god forbid have the new hair do get unintentionally wet…I heard they canceled Songkran in BKK but you never know there might be a smart-ass like me with a water cannon.

  6. Talen, I don’t personally know Thai people directly involved in the tourism industry anymore, but I do know the average Joe/Josephine who are trying to keep their financial heads afloat. All have friends and/or family from Issan, so this line being drawn between Northern and Central Thailand is a weak one, made mostly of prejudice. Those educated at Khonkaen (Issan), no matter how high they climb the professional ladder, are perceived as lesser beings than Bangkokians educated at say, Chula. And this wonky perception has nothing to do with actual ability.

    You are right, fear does come into it. Especially now. Last Friday when I drove through the Red Shirt area I had an uneasy feeling and didn’t get out of the car. But as others have pointed out, once you are walking around the Red Shirts the overwhelming response from them is one of warmth and welcome. Knowing that snipers are involved has brought a real element of fear in the mix though…

    It’s been a long time since you’ve been in Thailand, so all of this will be a huge change for you. And hey, if I live through it, I’ll be sure to tuck away a water gun special for you :-D

    Btw – Songkran has not been cancelled. I’m going to Kao San today to see if I can get photos for a Friday post. The posts I had ready to go were not right for this time, so I’m happy to get out and snap, snap, snap…

  7. Cat, nothing in Thailand surprises me …from tanks parked in the streets my first trip to watching 2 people die on second road in Pattaya…I doubt the protests would phase me much but I will be heading out with the camera looking for trouble.

    And of course I will be armed with a water gun and looking for you :)

  8. The tanks were quite fun in a way, but I didn’t enjoy the bombs. My condo was smack in the middle of two bombs – Big C and outside of the Sax bar on Victory Monument. I’m hoping that like the bombs, the sniper attacks won’t be a repeat.

    Hey, you’d better bring a water gun if you intend on walking around looking for trouble, as it’s HOT HOT HOT! You are going to need the water just to cool yourself down. A lot.

    (and looks like I need to go find a BIGGER water gun than I have stashed away… can’t have you outgunning me :-D

  9. I feel sorry for the business owners. As you and many other people pointed out this now harms individual people and ruins their livelihood. I do not think landlords at Siam Square or in surrounding areas will just allow people to not pay for these days. The bigger companies in Siam Paragon might be able to take this but the small shops will suffer.

    I would just wish there would be an end to all this and the “fighting” is done within the government. But both sides, the red shirts and yellow shirts keep on taking things to the streets and by doing this harm the whole country.
    .-= jo´s last blog ..Phrase Lesson 5: Department store (Video) =-.

  10. Jo, Good point. But I wonder what they will do to recover their losses? To get people back in the numbers of before, they will need to entice, not raise prices.

    I read a report this week that lists the landlords of the Siam Paragon area. When people think of the Red Shirts, they automatically envision the poor of the North, not the so called ‘elite’ that the Red Shirts are supposed to be fighting against. But there are wealthy Issan people sitting on megga properties in Bangkok, some around Siam Paragon, and they will be hurting along with the rest.

    I’m ready for the end too. Seems like every time one bit of serious news comes in, there is another to contradict it. The latest worry is the Red Shirts threatening death to force the Election Commission’s hand against Abhisit.

  11. The loss of business is regrettable and of course nobody in their right mind wants violence, but sometimes there is a price to pay for freedom. Thailand is not the land of the free. It’s the land of corruption, proxy governments, and aristocrats who aim to keep the poor in their place by limiting opportunity and freedom. It’s time for a new Thailand where everyone has a voice and everyone has equal opportunity and that’s what the red shirt movement is about. Many lose business for a short time, and foreigners who don’t understand will complain about the logistical inconveniences, but these are very small prices to pay if it means my children have a better future. If the military in your home country took over your government, illegally disbanded your political party, and ignored the will of the people, you would want to protest too. Thank you for your time and I’m sorry for the temporary inconveniences we cause you, but it’s for a better Thailand!

  12. Hi Sii, welcome to WLT.

    I have a difficult time choosing sides. Both sides are riddled with corruption. Both have amazingly resilient people just trying to make it through their days.

    I’m only an expat. I don’t profess to have a deep knowledge of what is going on. But what has bothered me personally is the lack of education. And that, I have dug into (because it matters).

    When Thaksin was in, did he improve education for the poor? I do know that answer to that. It’s ‘no’. Money went into pockets.

    If the Red Shirts get in, will they make sure Thailand’s poor receive adequate resources to improve education? Will scholarships be put into place?

    Because without proper education for ALL Thais, Thailand is on a ferris wheel to hades…

  13. So what happens when Parliament is dissolved? What I mean is, the UDD gets into power, and then it’s just the same thing in reverse all over again?

    Politics never seem to change, unfortunately, no matter what country you’re in. I don’t live in Thailand, but it seems to me that PM Abhisit is doing a pretty good job. Granted, if the rumors of the huge payouts are true then his gov’t should go, but it would be a shame to see a good leader have to leave if he’s doing a good job.

  14. IF the Thai Parlament is dissolved, there will be new elections. And then goodness knows what’ll happen.

    As for the corruption by PM Abhisit’s party, I read that “members of the Election Commission had their lives threatened by Red Shirts” (no longer online) – give them immediate action, or else. Who knows what the truth really, is. I sure don’t.

    Looking at Thailand’s erratic history, Thai politics are not going to straighten up soon. My family has even stopped emailing to ask if I’m ok. I guess they are bored with it all.

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