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Thailand entered the New Year with a series of small bang

Updated On: Jan 05, 2007

Bangkokwas greeted by a series of coordinated bomb attacks as it prepared to enter 2007. 

New Year celebrations were promptly cancelled.  Promises by the Council of National Security (CNS) head General Sonthi Boonyaratglin and the interim government that 2007 will be a better year and that the coup was the only path to a better future for the Kingdom is beginning to look a little doubtful.

The deadly bombings which resulted in three dead and 40 injured would have repercussions on national stability and particularly the mood of the people. On the first day of trading Wednesday this week, Thailand's stock market plunged 3.8 % “but then started a steady rebound”, according to the Bangkok Post. The impact on tourism and business, as well as foreign investment, is expected to take a severe beating. Thai economists have revised the economic forecast for 2007 in light of the bombings. Charl Kengchon, a Kasikorn Research Institute economist, said growth for 2007 now had a “negative bias”, the Bangkok Post reported. Economic growth is estimated to be only between 4-5%.

Now, rumours abound of bomb hoaxes and reports of suspicious objects, causing some schools to be shut for security reasons. Bangkokians and residents of the surrounding areas are said to be fearful of further chaos, leading the government to propose installing closed-circuit televisions for public safety.

The Bangkok Post has come out to criticize the government in its handling of the situation. It said, “owing to poor intelligence and dismal forensics in the army and the police, we may never know the real culprits of Bangkok's unprecedented bomb explosions… The bomb blasts have undermined the legitimacy and credibility of both the military junta… and its appointed interim government.”

Allegations abound as to who the perpetrators can be. A popular whipping boy of the government is former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, such that he has come out in firm denial of any connection to the bombings. He claimed that he loved Thailand and would never hurt his people. He sent a fax saying, “I swear that I have never even thought about hurting the public's happiness or destroying the country's credibility for any political gain.” Another group that is suspected is the pro-Thaksin faction, and the Thai Rak Thai party claims the bombs are meant to divert public dissatisfaction away from the incumbent rulers.

Yet another group that could plausibly be blamed is the South Thailandinsurgents. However, the present government and coup leaders do not strongly support this hypothesis. Today reported Gen. Sonthi as saying, “The militants are in trouble, even in Yala. I don't think they would come here as they could get lost in Bangkok.” While that may be so, Vinai Phattiyakul, defence permanent secretary and secretary-general of the CNS, said that the southern insurgents remained a possibility though the bombs and aims were different. He told the Bangkok Post that “southern rebels aim to take lives but the bombings in Bangkokwere intended only to cause unrest”.

Over in the South, the violence shows no signs of abating. The rate of enrolment has dropped to a new low in the fourth year of resurgent violence, while schools in Yala have decided to remain closed till Monday, given the killing and burning of two teachers last week.

Sources:

Attacks threaten economic growth (Bangkok Post, 4 January 2007)

Yala schools won't open till Monday (Bangkok Post, 4 January 2007)

Schools in decline as renewed violence enters fourth year (Nation, 4 January 2007)

Bombs a diversion from allegations, TRT claims (Nation, 4 January 2007)

Objective clear, identity murky (Bangkok Post, 4 January 2007)

Hoaxes, false alarms, but no answers (Bangkok Post, 4 January 2007)

'Big Brother' cameras for capital (Nation, 4 January 2007)

Will the bombs scare tourists away? Thailand braces for impact (Today, 3 January 2007)

Thaksin fax insists 'I'm not to blame' (Bangkok Post, 3 January 2007)

Saprang: Mastermind not in Nonthaburi (Bangkok Post, 3 January 2007)Thai market drops - but rebounds quickly (Bangkok Post, 3 January 2007)

Cabinet to discuss bombings' impacts (Bangkok Post, 3 January 2007)CNS says it not jump to conclusion on its own (Nation, 3 January 2007)