Bangkok, the 12th of May 2010 [PDN]: Although the Deputy PM did in fact report to the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) on Tuesday, observers say that it was conducted as a formal visit in which Suthep met with DSI chief Tharit Pengdit as his boss rather than to surrender to police over his involvement in the April 10 atrocities. Some sections of the Thai media have reported that Suthep even conducted an inspection of the DSI offices in yet a further play at the Red Shirts demand.
Prime Minister Abhisit, on Tuesday night, left the UDD with a clear ultimatum, “I consider the end of the protest as a pre-requisite if they want to show their acceptance of the road map. If the protest continues, it means they say no to the road map.” Abhisit, further stated, “The five-point road map for national reconciliation is not a negotiable scheme and the protesters will have to accept it.” Following the PM’s announcement an unconfirmed source stated that the government would now cut the water and electrical supply to Ratchaprasong in an attempt to disband the protesters.
Red leader Nattawut Saikua stated that the Reds were not intimidated by the Prime Ministers ultimatum, stating that they had accepted the ‘road map’ under one condition which has yet to be met. Mr. Saikua stated that until Suthep genuinely hands himself in to the DSI to face criminal charges the Red Shirts presence will continue to be felt in Bangkok. Further to that, Red leaders also stipulated that they would follow suit in handing themselves in to the DSI once Suthep has conformed.
“We are not afraid of such pressure. After the death of many protesters, nothing can stop the red people,” Mr. Saikua said. “How can we stop as the murderers are walking freely? We cannot accept such play between Suthep and the DSI as fulfilling the condition to end the protest.” The DSI has allegedly not formed a case against Suthep and as such there is currently no warrant out for his arrest, meaning any potential surrender to the DSI would mean that their jurisdiction would have to be widened as at present they only cover five categories: terrorism, posing a threat to the state, hurting government officials, stealing official weapons, and lese majeste laws.
Note: Seemingly yet another roadblock has appeared in Thailand’s path to recovery, with continued acts of violence and destruction occurring across the capital, largely by separatist groups from both sides of the colour-coded fence, it seems that the current stalemate is set to continue on into a 9th week.
Although various nations have begun to retract their tourism warnings for Thailand, the continued political uncertainty that surrounds the nation’s progress leaves the international observers increasingly apprehensive about visiting the Kingdom. Those reservations will have long lasting affects on the nation’s ability to draw tourists as violent protests, deaths, widespread chaos and destruction along with random bomb blasts become engrained in the memory of observers across the globe.
Unfortunately, the situation may end abruptly and the physical damages can be repaired, but the memories created by the – so far 2 month protests – will stick in the minds of potential tourists for quite some time after the situation has been resolved.