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Red shirts disruptive but 'Thailand is still a paradise'

Anarchy and Chaos: Thailand's Low Score

Saturday, April 18, 2009
THE red shirt Songkran skirmish did not rate highly on a scale of anarchy and chaos, according to one of Thailand's top expat lawyers.

Far worse but largely ignored was the Songkran road toll, he said, a message that should reassure tourists and 14 countries that have imposed travel warnings.

In a letter to clients and friends, David Lyman, Bangkok-based Chairman and Chief Values Officer of Tilleke & Gibbins, which has a Phuket office, describes the so-called Songkran Skirmish as ''maybe a 6 out of 10 on the scale of conflicts, 10 being revolution and anarchy.''

''Based on my past experience, it will not take long for the country to return to normal. We have been down this road many times before and the country continues to progress.

''It is a learning experience, similar to those faced by other nations in the past and even today.

''Thailand is still a paradise which has faced a storm, and that storm has passed.

''Please note that the Songkran Skirmish occurred over the four-day-long Thai New Year weekend when many people returned home to celebrate this joyous traditional holiday with family.

''Thus, the urban areas of the city of Bangkok where 10-14 million people live and work were mostly quiet from the usual traffic jams and hustle of daily life.

''Except for those few areas of the city where the Red Shirts congregated, life went on normally.

''The observer would not know that riots or political gatherings were in progress.

''While the civil service was on holiday, those in the commercial private sector not on holiday continued normal work, and the populace was safe.

''By way of comparison, during the same four-day Songkran period from April 10-13, there were 272 people killed in vehicle accidents across the country (versus two killed by the Red Shirts and 0 by the peacekeepers) and 3375 persons reported injured on the highways (versus 200 injured by all sides in the riots).

''That statistic does not excite the world press.

''In short, although the recent demonstrations consumed the attention of politicians, demonstrators, and the media for nearly a week, most of us in Bangkok went about our daily lives, albeit more carefully, without serious disruption or concern for our personal safety.

''We keep the faith that Thailand will continue to thrive and will cope with the aftermath of the recent events, as it always has and always will.''

Over the seven days of Songkran, ending on Thursday, the road toll reached 373 throughout Thailand, a figure that deserves to spark a revolution on road safety. More than 4000 people were injured.

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