The Bangkok Post reports:
More than 4,000 demonstrators gathered at the King Rama VI Monument in front of Lumpini Park yesterday afternoon to oppose the red shirts’ prolonged demonstrations in Bangkok.
They carried banners that opposed calls for an immediate House dissolution and the red shirts’ loyalty to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Leading the pink-clad demonstrators were businessmen, hotel owners, former deputy police chief Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunjorn and Charas Suwannamala, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science. The pink shirts called for the government to punish those who commit acts of violence.
Pol Gen Vasit said the government needed more time to solve political problems before holding elections.
He also said he disagreed with the government’s negotiations with representatives of the red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD). Talks should involve not only the UDD but also representatives of all parties in society, he added.
Treedao Apaiwong, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, said the pink shirt demonstrators were expressing their allegiance to the monarchy and protecting freedom of expression.
BP: As noted yesterday at least some of the pink shirt leaders has been heavily involved in the PAD so there is certainly a partisan nature to them (calling for no dissolution is a political position), but on the other hand some businesses, particularly those in tourism have a valid point because the protests are hurting tourism (not helped by the government’s ratcheting up the fear as well) so not all of them are necessarily yellow shirts.
Also, the representatives from hotels and the tourism industry seemingly deliberately did not wear pink as The Nation reports:
Some of the tourism representatives were in multicoloured shirts, but most wore white.
Employees from hotels in the Silom Road area joined wearing their uniforms.
At 4pm, Anake Srishevachart, president of the Thai-Japan Tourism Association and a member of the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations, spoke to the crowd.
He said the country’s entire tourism industry, already hurting for two or three years now, was being damaged further by the latest political developments, which were receiving widespread coverage by domestic and international media.
Anake estimated the political unrest had cost the hotel sector Bt10.2 billion so far from cancellations. Tour operators are reporting a slowdown in new bookings, particularly for Songkran.
Actually, from this AP report, those from the hotel/tourism industry, it appears they tried to distinguish themselves from the pink shirts although they were rallying in the same park:
Representatives from the tourism industry advertised their message by briefly staging their own protest at a central Bangkok park Friday afternoon.
‘Please Stop Hurting Tourism Thailand,’ read a large sign carried by a group of hotel cooks in their white kitchen attire. The rally drew about 100 people, including hotel concierges in their uniforms.
The rallies have dealt the latest blow to Thailand’s key tourism industry, which has suffered through Thailand’s political crisis since 2006. ‘The demonstrations – with (protesters) blocking the roads – have disturbed many tourists. It damages the country’s image and paralyses the economy,’ said Apichart Sankary, an adviser to the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations.
Earlier, another anti-protest group – dressed in pink shirts – held a demonstration in Bangkok’s Lumpini Park, where the tourism rally was also held later in the day. The so-called pink shirts are pro-government and say they are frustrated by the reds’ noisy, traffic-clogging protests that are hurting Bangkok businesses.
Also, Yoon of The Nation notes that the rally held by the tourism operators was separate:
The anti-Red movement seems to have expanded rapidly. As soon as the Pink group ended their rally at Lumpini Park, another group — from the tourism business — lined up at the same location to make their stand as well.
Some 2,000-plus people clad in pink gathered at Lumpini Park yesterday
The crowd, made up mostly of the educated Bangkok middle class, chanted royalist slogans and songs alternating with the demand that the Abhisit administration must not dissolve the House.
The crowd was led by Chulalongkorn University’s Political Science Faculty dean, Charas Suwanmala, in swearing an oath of allegiance to the monarchy in front of the King Vajiravudh statue at the Silom corner of Lumpini Park at 2.40pm.
A pink-shirt demonstrator distributed leaflets stating that Thaksin was defaming the King, but with no supporting evidence.
Red-shirt leaders have been stating that state-controlled Channel 11 television is accusing the movement of being anti-monarchist, and the singing of numerous ultra-royalist songs by the pink shirts today reflects a genuine sentiment amongst the crowd that they feel concern about the status of the royal institution.
Some 500 royalists amongst the pink shirts refused to leave the site even long after leaders such as Charas were gone. They kept singing royalist songs well into the late afternoon.
“When we see websites which defame the King, hear community radio stations that defame the King, don’t we feel sad?” a pink-shirted man, speaking through a megaphone, told the frenzied crowd. “I told the prime minister this morning that I will let bygones be bygones, but we won’t put up with it any longer!”
BP: A few pink shirts have used imagery reminscent of 1976 – see yesterday’s post – but the below photo is the same:
Source: Via e-mail from a mailing list.
BP: The black sign on the right has the words “หนักแผ่นดิน” (blight of the earth) which is a song which was sung in 1976 by the various anti-communist, pro-monarchy groups in the lead-up to the killings at Thammasat University – see here.
Exactly what the motive was of the person holding this sign and the one with the effigy of a red shirt being hung from a tree yesterday is not known so do not want to tar all pink shirts with the same brush. However, the rhetoric and imagery of some is disturbing and many people will link it to 1976.
AP has an interesting picture of a very large Thai flag which was on display. There were a lot of Thai flags.
Finally, while the pinks might have been using the rhetoric of non-violence, not all were listening as The Nation reports:
Police rescued a red-shirt motorcyclists who was captured and attacked by pink-shirt demonstrators inside the Lumpini Park.
The pink-shirt people were dispersing at 5:30 pm when the spotted a motorcyclist in red-shirt with the logo of the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship riding inside the park.
They ran to attack the man, prompting police to come to rescue him and free him from the pink-shirt people.
BP: As you can see from the photos here, one of the pinks punched the motorycle rider in the face and was being confronted from all sides by various pinks. In fairness though, from what BP has heard, it wasn’t really the police who rescued the motoryclist, but another a pink-shirt guy (this seems to be the case from the photos too).
Was this a one-off pink rally?