Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One Fight in Bangkok

The crisis in Thailand has gotten quite violent:

Downtown Bangkok turned into a flaming battleground Wednesday as an army assault toppled an anti-government group's leadership, enraging followers who fired grenades and set numerous fires that cloaked the skyline in black smoke.

Using live ammunition, troops dispersed thousands of Red Shirt protesters who had been camped in the capital's premier shopping and residential district for weeks. Four protesters and an Italian news photographer were killed in the ensuing gunbattles and about 60 wounded.

After Red Shirt leaders gave themselves up to police, rioters set fires at the Stock Exchange, several banks, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the Central World, one of Asia's biggest shopping malls, and a cinema that burned to ground. There were reports of looting.

I haven't had much to offer on the situation. The government is friendly. But it did rather subvert democracy to get in power. The government can't fully trust the army to put down a popular uprising. And the Red Shirts don't want to accept that their numbers don't count in elections.

We shall see if the army holds together if it really has to go to the mat and suppress the protesters with heavy loss of life. If it can't maintain discipline, and the tough guys tumble, we may yet see a civil war. Hopefully, the two sides can agree to new elections and guarantees that a free and honest vote will be held and obeyed.