Friday, March 12, 2010

Fish and Shits

In Thailand, where the weather is steamy and tropical, we have only been able to live vicariously through our connections on the East Coast of the U.S. as they live through serial snowstorms that are severe enough to close schools and offices.  Well, I now realize that we have our our version of the snowday here in the politically unstable and colorfully chaotic Land of Smiles.  

Following the verdict that called for the seizure of some of the assets of former Prime Minister Thaksin (you can read about the lead-up to the decision in this post), the country has been bracing itself for March 14th, the date chosen for Thaksin supporters ("Red Shirts") around the country to gather en mass in strategic locations in Bangkok to protest the verdict and to oust Abhisit Vejjajiva, the current PM. 
News agencies have varying estimates of how many protesters are expected --ranging from 200,000 to the rally organizers' promise of 1 million.  It has been reported that the Red Shirt, many of whom are from poorer northern provinces, are getting paid between 300-1500 baht (approximately US$10-45) to attend the rally.  A rumor has also been circulating that families of protesters who are killed in action will receive 1M baht (approximately US$30,000).  That being said, it is uncertain is whether the protests will erupt into the violence proposed by Arisman, a second tier Red Shirt leader who, in a January rally, urged protesters to bring one liter of oil each to send a message to the military that if the Red Shirts are harmed "with just one drop of blood then Bangkok will be a sea of fire".  It is also possible that violence may be initiated by the "Yellow Shirts" or "Blue Shirts", two other feuding factions.  
As most protesters don't have access to firearms, they have been urged to bring fermented fish stink bombs and bags of poop to protect themselves from the military.  These may have the power to be a stronger deterrent than tear gas!
Just as in the U.S., the reports of an impending disaster have caused a stir in the population.  Schools are closed, offices locked up early (even T's company, always ready to weather any storm, declared their closing while we were at lunch due to the approaching Red Shirts), and people are flocking to the grocery stores to stock up on food and water.  After all of the hype, I am eager to see if any news-worthy action transpires.  Stay tuned!

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails