Thai capital cautiously re-opens for business

Bangkok got back to business on Monday with markets, government offices, and schools re-opening after a massive clean-up of the city following the worst political mayhem in modern Thai history.

Thai capital cautiously re-opens for business

Bangkok got back to business on Monday with markets, government offices, and schools re-opening after a massive clean-up of the city following the worst political mayhem in modern Thai history.

Thailand's stock exchange and other financial markets resumed full-day trading, after being closed on Thursday and Friday following a wave of arson and street battles when the army dispersed thousands of anti-government protesters.

Both metropolitan train services, the Skytrain and the underground, were operating after starting skeleton service over the weekend following disruptions during the protests.

Trains were crowded, but there was enough space to stand comfortably, even in morning rush hour.

"You look around and it feels like nothing has happened," said Dao Pipirom, a 35-year-old market researcher whose apartment is in the business district. "Life goes on as normal now."

"But I still get very agitated when I hear loud noise. I keep thinking it's another grenade blast or gunshot."

The government will announce first quarter GDP figures, likely to show the economy was recovering well from the global economic crisis in the January-March period, but was beginning to show effects of the political crisis.

Government offices and some schools are also scheduled to reopen on Monday, but a night curfew in the city and 23 provinces was still being imposed.

At least 54 people were killed and over 400 injured in the latest bout of violence which began on May 14. Almost 40 buildings in the city were set on fire and the tourism and retail sectors have been devastated.

Clean-up

On Sunday, thousands of municipal workers and volunteers, including high school students, cleaned up the Rachaprasong district the anti-government red shirt protesters had occupied for months.

Armed with straw brooms, plastic gloves, garbage bags and face masks, some used kitchen scourers and razor knives to remove anti-government posters and graffiti. Others carted away rubbish left by the protesters.

The red shirts, mainly rural and urban poor, demand new elections, saying Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva lacks a popular mandate and is propped up by the military and a Bangkok elite that has disenfranchised them.

Abhisit said in a regular Sunday broadcast that he did not wish to stay for his full term, which lasts until 2012, but did not confirm whether an earlier offer to the red shirts of a November election was still on the table.

"It is now up to me to decide whether that election is appropriate... I don't know what is going to happen next as some people have vowed to continue their struggle, calling for the resumption of the protest in June," Abhisit said.

Red shirt leaders have said they will resume protests outside Bangkok next month, but the main anti-government Puea Thai party said it would bring a no-confidence motion against the government at a special session of Parliament on Monday.

Agencies

Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2010, 16:53
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