Caught up in the PAD march

Despite Prime Minister Samak’s being removed from his post by the courts, despite former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra being convicted in absentia and sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion, the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) continues its protests. 

It seems they will only be satisfied when the current government is disrupted and new elections are called – assuming they were sincere when PAD leaders recently dropped their demands for a parliament that was contained a majority of appointees, resulting in a government that would be (ironically, given their name) not democratic.

Another big PAD rally and march occurred today, heading down Phloenchit/Sukhumvit Road from Siam Square to Phrom Phong.  (Come to think about it, this could be called the Mall to Mall March.)  Originally, the march was to terminate at the British Embassy on Wittahyu Road but it looks like they kept on going, stopping only once heavy rains commenced.

As I left my Thai language class with Khruu Kitiya, the head of the protest was just arriving at the Asoke Skytrain station.  Caught up in the excitement (and lack of policemen in their mob control gear) I decided to risk life and limb to bring you, my readers, the story.

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Above, the head of the marchers, underneath the Asoke Skytrain station heading into the Asoke-Sukhumvit intersection.  The crowd looked to be about 5,000 – 10,000 strong but the rains about thirty minutes later cut that to just a few thousand.

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Above, looking from Asoke station eastwards towards Phrom Phong station (where Emporium mall is located).  By the time the crowd had passed the intersection – a good fifteen minutes – the traffic backed up on Asoke reached a solid two kilometers to Phetchaburi Road and beyond.

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Above, a close-up from the previous vantage point, showing the crowds already down several blocks,

After taking the train into town to pay my electricity bill, I stopped at Emporium on the way back for a bite to eat, where I caught up with a rain storm and about two thousand remaining PAD members, who sought shelter beneath the Phrom Phrong station, stopping traffic on both sides of the street, below.

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Security guards at the BTS Skytrain and the Emporium mall watched nervously, hoping that crowds would not turn against them.  All in all, the demonstration was very peaceful – other than causing massive gridlock in a city that already has terrible congestion.

Above: Here’s ninety seconds of footage I edited together so you could get a fuller sense of the scope of the protest.

 

12 thoughts on “Caught up in the PAD march

  1. Yeah, at least it seems to stay calm and peaceful.  But one never know, things can turn ugly and out -of-hand real fast if provoked.  I did not know that even the PM was kicked out.  What else does PAD want? Blood?  As you know, I stayed at the Emporium earlier this year, and I walked around the neighborhood. It was way crowded even without these marches. I thought they were supposed to protest at the government buildings, wonder why they spread to other parts of the city this time?  Not a good sign, I think. Someone is thinking of creating more trouble? 😦   Let’s hope not.

  2. I think most people outside never realise about the truth about the reason why PAD need to march all around. Further from sending the letter calling Thaksin back to jail at the embassy, PAD just march to give away VCD to clarify the truth about bloody October. Most of people here just cover their eyes with government influenced media and may be this could help even just a little.
    From my opinion, it’ll turn to be bloody one only that bastard Somchai want to do anything like last time.

  3. Thank you for risking life and limb in the quest for that blogable moment. As usual you make my life seem even more mundane. heh heh heh
    No seriously. It doesn’t seem that this conflict will end peacefully.

  4. I bet a lot of shoppers and tourists at the Emporium must be shocked seeing the protest! Notice the majority of marchers are wearing yellow, a symbol of loyalty to the Country/King? Good grief! (Hindsight: I wonder all this turmoil would happen if Thaksin follow the rules and paid his capital gain tax on the sale of his media company!)

  5. Today, the PAD protesters sat themselves right in the middle of the traffic junction between Rama IV and Ratchada Road (near the Queen Sirikit Centre). It took me and my foreign customers more than an hour just to get pass that junction. As we made a U-Turn in front of the Queen Sirikit Centre (to bypass the blockage), we saw a Caucasian tourist roughed up for taking pictures of the protesters. His video camera was thrown on the road by an angry PAD protester, who was holding plastic hand-clappers with his other hand. He was also kicked by another PAD protester with a yellow headband. I am not sure what happened after that, but it was not a good sight for my customers. As they rightly said, this mob has gotten out of hand, and has caused tremendously more damage to Thailand than any single corrupted politician (which is not unusual in Thailand I suppose). But I sure wish the situation will be better… after the mafia-like leaders of the PAD are arrested and put behind bars…of course!

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