Bangkok malls fear riots, shut down

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Centralworld
Fire guts the CentralWorld shopping mall in Bangkok on May 19, 2010

Shopping malls and businesses in central Bangkok will shut down on Sunday, May 19, as a large gathering of Red Shirt protesters is expected to take place at Ratchaprasong intersection in the main business area of Ploenchit.

Groups of Red Shirts from all 17 northern provinces have announced they will commemorate the clashes between Red Shirts and security forces three years ago. The Red Shirts will travel in about 250 buses and in private cars to Bangkok for the event, it has been reported. Several tens of thousands are expected for, assumedly, peaceful protests – but there is a possibility that they could run out of control.

The CentralWorld mall, the sixth biggest shopping complex in the world, which includes a hotel and an office tower, has already announced that it will close down; nearby Siam Paragon has yet to make a statement. Losses in shopping revenue and salary payments for staff sent home on that day are estimated to reach several million baht.

The Red Shirts movement, or, as it is officially called, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, is a political pressure group that allies itself with the Pheu Thai Party, which is currently part of the ruling coalition government. The Red Shirts are composed of mostly rural masses from Thailand’s northeast, namely Isaan, and north, namely Chiang Mai, of urban lower classes from Bangkok and of some intellectuals.

The group calls for the replacement of the aristocratic policy system in Thailand and is largely anti-monarchist. It also calls for the replacement of the 2007 constitution, which was drafted by the military. Some members openly support ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose sister is Thailand’s prime minister since 2011.

On May 19, 2010, violent protests locked down Bangkok as demonstrators and local street thugs started fires after an army assault on the Red Shirt protesters’ main camp near the CentralWorld mall. The protestors were there to demand that the then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party dissolves parliament and holds new elections, saying the Democrats came to power in a “silent coup.”

The Thai army’s storm of the protestors’ camp resulted in 6 deaths, and Red-Shirt leaders were arrested. The result was that mobs of roving protesters singled out economic targets for special attention, setting Thailand’s stock-exchange headquarters ablaze and torching several banks and the headquarters of the city’s electricity provider. Large parts of the CentralWorld shopping mall overlooking the demonstrators’ camp in Bangkok’s main commercial corridor were gutted by flames and some sections collapsed as other malls smouldered nearby.

Economists said further rioting could damage Thailand’s economic prospects at a time when it is enjoying strong economic growth, destabilising the country in a way that could alter perceptions about this open, export-driven economy for years.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Fire guts the CentralWorld shopping mall in Bangkok on May 19, 2010

Shopping malls and businesses in central Bangkok will shut down on Sunday, May 19, as a large gathering of Red Shirt protesters is expected to take place at Ratchaprasong intersection in the main business area of Ploenchit.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Centralworld
Fire guts the CentralWorld shopping mall in Bangkok on May 19, 2010

Shopping malls and businesses in central Bangkok will shut down on Sunday, May 19, as a large gathering of Red Shirt protesters is expected to take place at Ratchaprasong intersection in the main business area of Ploenchit.

Groups of Red Shirts from all 17 northern provinces have announced they will commemorate the clashes between Red Shirts and security forces three years ago. The Red Shirts will travel in about 250 buses and in private cars to Bangkok for the event, it has been reported. Several tens of thousands are expected for, assumedly, peaceful protests – but there is a possibility that they could run out of control.

The CentralWorld mall, the sixth biggest shopping complex in the world, which includes a hotel and an office tower, has already announced that it will close down; nearby Siam Paragon has yet to make a statement. Losses in shopping revenue and salary payments for staff sent home on that day are estimated to reach several million baht.

The Red Shirts movement, or, as it is officially called, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, is a political pressure group that allies itself with the Pheu Thai Party, which is currently part of the ruling coalition government. The Red Shirts are composed of mostly rural masses from Thailand’s northeast, namely Isaan, and north, namely Chiang Mai, of urban lower classes from Bangkok and of some intellectuals.

The group calls for the replacement of the aristocratic policy system in Thailand and is largely anti-monarchist. It also calls for the replacement of the 2007 constitution, which was drafted by the military. Some members openly support ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose sister is Thailand’s prime minister since 2011.

On May 19, 2010, violent protests locked down Bangkok as demonstrators and local street thugs started fires after an army assault on the Red Shirt protesters’ main camp near the CentralWorld mall. The protestors were there to demand that the then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party dissolves parliament and holds new elections, saying the Democrats came to power in a “silent coup.”

The Thai army’s storm of the protestors’ camp resulted in 6 deaths, and Red-Shirt leaders were arrested. The result was that mobs of roving protesters singled out economic targets for special attention, setting Thailand’s stock-exchange headquarters ablaze and torching several banks and the headquarters of the city’s electricity provider. Large parts of the CentralWorld shopping mall overlooking the demonstrators’ camp in Bangkok’s main commercial corridor were gutted by flames and some sections collapsed as other malls smouldered nearby.

Economists said further rioting could damage Thailand’s economic prospects at a time when it is enjoying strong economic growth, destabilising the country in a way that could alter perceptions about this open, export-driven economy for years.

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