Arriving in New York on the heels of a turbulent week in Thailand, Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya addressed a packed house at a luncheon at the Asia Society and Museum. While the focus of his discussion was the future and relevance of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), questions were raised by attendees about the safety of tourists in the destination.
Foreign Minister of Thailand Kasit Piromya and Jamie F. Metzl, executive vice president, Asia Society
“During the protests last week, there was normalcy alongside chaos,” said Kasit, noting that the protests were confined and that “99 percent of Bangkok goes on as normal.”
“There is nothing to be afraid of,” he continued, explaining that the protesters are “mobile,” and basically follow the politicians around and do not expose tourists to any danger or disruption.
Tensions calmed in the Thai capital on Monday after a week of widespread and sometimes violent political unrest, and the main protests that engulfed many parts of Bangkok have ceased. Supporters of deposed former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra continue to gather in the evening, but do so peacefully.
Thailand is still under an eight-day-old state of emergency, and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he would not lift the order until he was convinced the capital wouldn't "return to chaos and violence."
Also on Friday, Sondhi Limthongkul, a Thai protest group leader who helped topple Thaksin was shot and wounded on the way to host his radio talk show.
Kasit told the group in New York today that he was scheduled to have lunch with Sondhi that very day, adding a personal perspective to the crisis that engulfed his country last week.