Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bangkokians' concern: Traffic jam over street violence?

If yesterday's AFP report datedlined Bangkok was anywhere near accurate, then lots of soul-searching is in order indeed. And we shouldn't get angry if your foreign friends say we are still a third-word nation.

The AFP story had this to say: Despite international headlines screaming of turmoil in Thailand, many Bangkok residents see this week's violence between police and protesters as more of a traffic problem than a political one.

In a country that has seen 18 coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, the clashes were treated with concern and sadness, but the sprawling capital mostly carried on as if nothing was amiss.

"Politics in Thailand is not stable," shrugged an unconcerned commuter on the ultra-modern light railway who would not give his full name.

Two people were killed and more than 470 injured when police clashed with thousands of anti-government protesters who stormed parliament on Tuesday.

As with previous political violence at nearby Government House this year, the fallout was localised.

"The first factor is the traffic for the people who work in that area," said Sinisa Lungrung, 32, who works in marketing. "The second factor is the uncertainty that affects people's lives."

Student Kantapat Tepinpria, 16, goes to school near parliament. The unrest added 30 minutes to his commute, he said. When asked if there were any further effects, Kantapat thought for a moment, then shook his head: "Just traffic."

Just traffic? Well, who can argue with the wisdom of the so-called "man on the street" especially conducted by a foreign correspondents on the Bangkok streets.

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