The military ended the red shirts’ siege of central Bangkok today and, to their credit, did so with limited bloodshed. That does not, however, do anything to solve the social economic disparities that seem to be on the verge of ripping this once peaceful nation apart.The whole situation has seemed a little surreal, hard to imagine at all. Bangkok is as modern a city as any, a place of tall buildings and great wealth, but for weeks now these mostly rural protesters have remained embedded within the in the heart of it while the day-to-day life of the city went on all around them. Until now.
The protesters are gone now, but so is the city’s gargantuan central shopping mall (and a number of other buildings( which was set ablaze by the protesters and a curfew has been declared. For the first time, the news reports indicate that the streets of Bangkok are empty. That is even harder to imagine than the image of thousands of protesters hunkered down behind sharpened bamboo poles and tires while the rest of the city went about its business.
I found the conspicuous wealth and over-consumption on display in so much of Bangkok pretty off-putting, a blaring testament to the fact that there really are people who simply have too much money. So I can’t imagine how it must have looked to these protesters, most of which come from Thailand’s poor rural population. The wealth prominently displayed in Bangkok just isn’t seen elsewhere in the country. It isn’t really that surprising they would target the biggest shopping mall in the city.
I hope Thailand can find its way to peace and prosperity for all, but that doesn’t seem likely in the near term.