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Protesters blockade police today, preventing them from leaving

Protesters Blockade 150 Police North of Phuket as Thailand Turmoil Grows

Thursday, February 6, 2014
PHUKET: One-hundred-and-fifty officers are today being blockaded in a province north of Phuket to prevent them from reinforcing police in Bangkok to deal with anti-government protesters.

The residents of Phang Nga have turned rebels and are blocking the exit of the police from the provincial headquarters in a siege that has been going on since 9.30am.

The latest upheaval comes with irate rice farmers also surrounding the Commerce Ministry in Bangkok and blocking roads in the north and south of Thailand.

Far from adding support to Yingluck Shinawatra's caretaker government, initial figures released today by the Election Commission show an extremely high level of disenchantment.

The Prime Minister herself, in an interview today, blamed the anti-government protesters for the suspension of Parliament and the lack of payments to struggling rice farmers amid fears there will be many suicides if subsidies are not paid quickly.

Phuket and Phang Nga are among the nine provinces in southern Thailand where no voting took place on February 2. A total of 43 million people were eligible to vote in the other provinces but only 20.1 million or 46.7 percent turned out.

This compares with the 75 percent (35.2 million) who turned out for the July 2011 election.

Of the voters who went to the polls, 3,335,334 voted No, an extremely high 16.57 percent, and another 2,425,673 voted informal (12.05 percent.)

Tallies have yet to be made of what proportion of the 14.36 million legitimate voters cast their ballots in favor of the ruling Pheu Thai party.

Although the result remains open to interpretation, it's plain levels of disenchantment are extremely high.

Rather than slackening off, as the caretaker government's most dedicated supporters are hoping, the rallies by both the farmers and the ''Shutdown Bangkok, Restart Thailand'' anti-corruption campaigners are likely to further paralyse all of Thailand tomorrow and into the weekend.

The election cost 3.8 million baht and was intended to justify Khun Yingluck's determination not to allow reforms until after a new Parliament has been elected. But her commitment to ''democracy'' has not impressed the millions who now plainly want change and an end to corruption at all levels.

Bangkok has been particularly hard-hit by the falloff in tourist numbers which industry officials blame on the Government's decision to impose a 60-day Emergency Decree for the capital and its surrounding areas.

Tourists cannot obtain insurance if travelling to that region and so visitors have either diverted to Phuket and other destinations or chosen to visit rival countries.

Comments

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"Tourists cannot obtain insurance if travelling to that region and so visitors have either diverted to Phuket and other destinations or chosen to visit rival countries."
Have you any evidence to support that statement? Until the conditions of the emergency decree are put in force and governments specifically advise against travel to the whole area not to just avoid protest sites, travel companies will not allow cancellation and insurance companies will not cover cancellation. That is different than your statement.

Posted by Alan on February 6, 2014 14:42

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It is going from bad to worse here in Thailand

Posted by Somsak SomeSnack on February 6, 2014 15:14

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I bet the police were trying really hard to overcome this one.

I wish someone would barricade me from going to work.

(The residents of Phang-nga have always been rebels.)

Posted by James on February 6, 2014 19:01

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People on both sides want to fight corruption really, not each other!

I think thats the main point to remember in this whole fiasco.

Posted by Jacob on February 6, 2014 21:58

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This is really starting to hurt businesses across Thailand - not just Phuket which is partially insulated from the effects. For example: shopping malls, restaurants & others are sitting near empty with approx 25% or less of normal trading. This is starting to hurt & become a matter of very real concern.

Posted by Logic on February 7, 2014 11:38

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"This is really starting to hurt businesses across Thailand." Yes, but factor in the trillions of baht stolen by corrupt government officials and it's merely a drop in the fiscal ocean of backlash resulting from these upheavals. Perspective, as the artist said, is everything, especially when the government continually tries to pull the wool over our eyes in everything from rice deals to hidden wealth.

Posted by Sam Wilko on February 7, 2014 13:35

Editor Comment:

Indeed, Sam. There will never be a better chance to end corruption.

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Bangkok and Pattaya are both very quiet. Some say Phuket is 85 per cent full (TAT wishful thinking?) some say it's very quiet. Some true answers please ?

Posted by Elizabeth on February 7, 2014 13:55

Editor Comment:

The true answer is that resorts and activities that are popular will be full while those that are not will not be. Discerning visitors will change their approach over time.


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