Saturday April 3, 2010 the Red Shirt protestors held another massive rally drawing together tens of thousands to block the major Ratchaprasong intersection downtown next to the popular tourist attraction Erawan Shrine and thus shutting down the biggest of the shopping complexes: Central World and Siam Paragon. The group actually went so far as to erect a stage and video screen (to pipe in a rabblerousing speech from convicted ex-Prime Minister Thaksin from somewhere outside the country) right in the middle of the street. As Bangkok people grow impatient with the complication to their daily lives – not to mention the millions of Thai baht lost from closing down such a commercial district – the protestors grow impatient as the government refuses their demands to dissolve Parliament. Tourists, however wary, still seem to be going about their adventures and even stopping in to get some photos of the red crowds.
Saturday reports of violence were few and included a “pink shirt” (a protesting group opposed to the Red Shirts) who drove his Porsche (yeah, you read that right) into a crowd of Red Shirts on motorbikes. Riot police prevented him from being torn to pieces. But all in all it was still rather benign but for the incredible nuisance. However, last night protestors were warned that at 9 pm they needed to disband. At 11:15 pm when they were all still there with blankets and provisions to bed down for the night, the government announced that the act exceeded legal limits of protest and that offenders might be punished with large fines and jail time. Sunday morning the Red Shirts announced they would open a couple of lanes to allow traffic to pass. With the intense heat of April upon us and the growing impatience and anger on all sides of this issue, one wonders what is to come. However, Songkran, the Thai New Year, is nearly upon us with nearly a full week of nationwide vacationing. The mass exodus from the city may leave protestors ignored and my own prediction is they’ll take a break too for the most part. We’ll see!