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Unless you’ve been living under a rock without internet access, you’ve probably heard about the current “coup” in Thailand. The Thai military officially ousted the government and took full control until a new government is able to manage running the country.
There have been books upon books written about the current political problems. But here is what the average tourist really needs to know about the politics in Thailand:
1- Thailand is divided between two major political parties. They have fancy names like, “People’s Alliance for Democracy” and “United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship”.
But they are often referred to as the “Yellow Shirts” and “Red Shirts”.
2- The Yellow Shirts are mostly compiled of three groups.
– The “Old Rich” (Super wealthy families that have been wealthy for generations)
– Upper class residents of Bangkok
– Middle class residents of Bangkok
They tend to be referred to as the, “Bangkok Elite”.
3- The Red Shirts tend to live outside of Bangkok in rural areas of north and north-east Thailand. Often referred to as rice farmers by the Yellows. The Red Shirt supporters tend to be the “dark skinned” Thai people.
4- The Red Shirts have won every country wide election since 2001.
5- Most of Thailand’s economy is created inside Bangkok. The Yellow Shirts want the money from taxes and such to stay in Bangkok. While the Red Shirts want it to go outside of Bangkok in the form of subsidizations for the poor.
6- Because the Red Shirts outnumber the Yellow Shirts in pure numbers, the Yellow Shirts do not want a democratically elected government where every citizen gets one vote. They want some sort of criteria in place for the right to vote, like a college education.
7- Here we talk about Thaksin Shinawatra. Yellow Shirts call him corrupt, Red Shirts call him the “People’s Champion”. After 5 years as Prime Minister, in 2006 the military led a “coup” which caused Thaksin Shinawatra to exile himself from Thailand.
8- It’s like clockwork. When the Reds have a member as Prime Minister, the Yellow Shirts overthrow him. And vice versa. This is why Thailand seems to have a major “crisis” every few years.
9- Last week Thaksin’s sister (Red Shirt) was removed as Prime Minister, and the Yellows took “control” of the government. The Reds started to protest this. The Yellows also had a protest going which has been around for a few months in Bangkok.
There was a fear of the two protest groups clashing…
10- On May 22th of 2014; the Thai Military took control of the government in an attempt to stabilize the country.
I wish them luck!
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That’s basically Thailand’s political problems in a nut shell. Did I skip a few things? Yes. Will people disagree with what I said? Maybe…
But none of that really matters to you or me. What really matters:
The answer is YES. Thailand is safe to visit.
I’ve been through many of these “political crises” in Bangkok. And they rarely affect me.
Never once has my safety felt threatened…and I’ve stood in the center of both protest groups.
The current “crisis” in Bangkok will only affect the average tourist in three ways:
1- World news will scare people away. So you will get better prices on hotels and the services certain women offer.
2- Protesters may shut down some roads, so the taxi time will be increased by 10 – 15 minutes.
3- There is a curfew – which is going on right now. I’m not going to sugar coat it, curfews suck. But they tend to be only a week long while the military clears out the protesters. If you are in Bangkok during this time. Either:
-Go to Samui, Phuket, Pattaya, or Chiang Mai. (Although in this case, the curfew is country wide. But some cities aren’t enforcing it as strongly as in Bangkok.)
Ride it out in Bangkok and just be prepared for the nightlife parties to end at 10pm.
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As always, the world news is making Thailand seem more dangerous than it really is. But that’s nothing new. The News is in the business of getting people’s attention. So they make scary and scarier headlines in an attempt to “one-up” each other.