Demonstrations in Bangkok forced tourists to avoid popular shopping malls and hotels


Thousands of red-shirt protesters refused to leave Ratchaprasong intersection in the Center of Bangkok on Sunday and vowed not to leave until the government calls new elections.

It forced major shopping malls remained closed. Normally thousands of tourists shop in this malls. Nearby hotels including the Intercontinental and Grand Hyatt Erewan had difficulties getting guests in and out of their hotels.

The occupation of the business area continues as red-shirt protesters ignored Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s plea that they leave the area and return to their main rally site at Phan Fa Bridge.

“Staging a mass demonstration in the middle of the road violates the rights of others and is unlawful,” Mr Abhisit said in a live television broadcast on Sunday morning.

He insisted that the government would not use force to disperse the protesters.

“We know that some people want the government to use tough measures but we are all Thai. The government will use international standards starting with soft measures.

“We [the government] understand the UDD’s demands but there are many other people who don’t agree with them. We have to listen to all sides,” Mr Abhisit said.

Red-shirt leader Natthawut Saikua replied to Mr Abhisit’s appeal by telling the protesters that they would not move anywhere until the prime minister dissolves the lower House, while protesters at Phan Fa Bridge simply tore up government handouts warning them not to join the rally at the intersection.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, meanwhile, said the government would seek a court order to force the protesters to leave the business area, as major shopping malls around the area remain closed for a second day.

“Legal experts are drafting a request to submit to court tomorrow. When we have a court order the government will see what it can do,” Mr Suthep said.

“We will avoid force which risks clashes. But we may have to send authorities to the site.”

In the morning, the red-shirts agreed to open one lane around Ratchaprasong intersection to allow some traffic to pass, after senior police officers negotiated with group leaders.

One lane of traffic from Rama I Road to Phloenchit intersection, and one lane from Sala Daeng intersection to Pathumwan intersection are open.

The opening of part of the road came almost 24 hours after the protesters occupied the intersection and adjacent areas.
The Democrat-led coalition government should hold closed-door negotiations with anti-government leaders of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to settle the intensifying political turmoil, Senate Speaker Prasopsuk Boondej said on Monday.

“I personally want the government to hold another round of talks with the UDD leaders but it should be confidential. The outcome of the meeting should then be revealed to the public,” Mr Prasopsuk said.

The government should also revise its plan before beginning another truce talks, he said.

“The red-shirt rally is getting longer and longer and it is hurting the country’s economy and affecting people psychologically.

“Now, the people in Bangkok are not happy with the red-shirt protesters because they are blocking roads, causing difficulties and traffic problems,” the senate speaker said.