The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Bangkok to be shut down Monday: another coup coming?

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 09•14

Courtesy Jeff Jarvis

Courtesy Jeff Jarvis

Although the major media appears reluctant to discuss it, Thailand may be in store for yet another government coup d’etat within days. All the signs seem to be leading to it, and it’s understandable that the media would be reluctant to fan the flames of revolt. Nevertheless, the situation could be ripe as events march forward to a citywide shutdown of Bangkok on Monday, January 12. As always in the Land of Smiles, it’s challenging sorting through rumor and innuendo, so we’ll just give you the WoWasis analysis, as simple as we can make it, given the complexity of the matter and the personalities involved. Here’s a précis as culled from major media:

1)      The “Caretaker government” is led by ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister Yingluck. A national election is scheduled for February 2nd. One possible outcome is that Yingluck could be returned to power. Her allies, to a great extent, consist of those from the lower economic classes, many of whom are from northeastern Thailand.

2)      The opposition group, the PDRC (People’s Democratic reform Committee), intends on Monday, January 12,  to shut down as many major thoroughfares in Bangkok as possible, including Asok-Sukhumvit, Lumpini, Ratchaprasong, and many others. The shut down is a protest against the upcoming elections. Protest leaders, including former Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban and former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, insist instead that Yingluck resign. The power base of the PDRC includes many middle and upper class Thais.

3)      Caretaker Deputy Defense Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa, as was stated in the Bangkok Post of January 9, “seemed reluctant to rule out the possibility of a military coup.” The Post goes on to report that General Yuthasak will be meeting with army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha on the Monday of the protest.

ThailandPromoBannerWhat could push the Caretaker government over the edge? Among other things, if the protest turned violent or lasted more than a couple of days. As either event might bring the city to its knees economically, an excuse for a coup would be readily available. Might it be a case of Bangkok’s Reichstag aflame?

Bangkok’s transportation infrastructure will be tested on Monday. The Klong San Sap canal boats are expected to increase the number of passengers from  60,000 to 100,000, twenty round trips are being added daily to the Chao Phraya river taxis, and the Transport Ministry is opening up 18,000 parking spots, although it’s anyone’s guess as to how anyone will be able to get to them.       

They key, from our perspective, is whether the protests turn violent. If they do, one underlying question may soon surface, namely whether, or to what degree, agents provocateurs were involved in creating the events that led to Thailand’s latest coup.

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