In the wake of Sunday’s rally, two different takes — one a news account, the other a sendup — on the ongoing red shirt protests at the Rajaprasong intersection.
First, from today’s Bangkok Post:
Red shirt rallies are making us broke, say angry retailers
Business operators, vendors and residents at the Ratchaprasong intersection have urged the government to regulate political gatherings, complaining that the shopping malls and other businesses in the area were being badly hit by the red shirt rallies.
About 2,000 business operators, vendors and employees yesterday gathered in front of Gaysorn Plaza shopping centre at 11.30am to oppose the use of Ratchaprasong intersection as a protest venue.
Putting aside the irony of protesting in Rajaprasong against protests in Rajaprasong, the UDD gatherings in the vicinity are a very real concern, and not just for a government that may feel jittery about continued displays of red shirt unity. I’ve spoken with people who work in the area, and the last several red shirt gatherings, while peaceful, have been quite disruptive. And certainly those residing in the nearby areas are feeling nervous, as well.
(Side note: I’ve heard speculation that the government intends to deal with the threat of red shirts blockading parts of the city again by simply not allowing them to mass in the way they did last year: That is, they would nip future Phan Fah bridge or Rajaprasong rallies in the bud, before demonstrators can seal off the areas. But couldn’t one of these Rajaprasong protests, some might wonder, quite easily turn permanent? What would the authorities do if the red shirts refused to leave?)
Rajaprasong Vendors Demand Reds Buy More Handbags
Retailers urge penniless protestors to step up consumption of luxuries
After suffering another weekend of lost sales due to large-scale UDD protests, the vendors of Bangkok’s Rajprasong shopping district have assembled for their own protest, demanding that future gatherings of red-shirts promise to buy more handbags, accessories, and high-end fashion items.
Calling themselves the Patriot’s Rajprasong Anti-Demonstration Association, or PRADA, the vendors asked for a “fair balance” between the political rights of the UDD and the mercantile rights of luxury retailers.
“We proudly serve this nation’s richest and most influential people and their need to pay 300% markups on ostentatious designer brands,” said Suksana Meechaiprap, the PRADA spokesperson and co-owner of Zenith watch shop in Gaysorn Plaza. “Our way of life, which is a cornerstone of traditional Thai culture, is under threat.”
On a more serious note, the next Rajaprasong rally is reportedly planned for Jan. 23.