Emergency decree lifted in three provinces
BANGKOK, 17 August 2010 ― Thailand ended its state of emergency in three more provinces, but Bangkok remains on the list.
Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, two popular tourist destinations in northern Thailand were taken off the emergency list along with Ubon Ratchathani in the northeast, an important gateway town for tourists visiting the southern Isan region, the Mekong River and Pakse in Laos.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva revoked the state of emergency in the three provinces proposed by the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), according to National Security Council secretary-general Thawil Pliensri.
There are still seven provinces under the emergency decree including Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen and Samut Prakan.
In reply to questions about disturbances in Chiang Mai, Mr Abhisit said: “The normal laws are adequate to maintain order there. The emergency decree was hurting businesses and tourism in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.”
However, red shirt protesters say they will gather in Chiang Mai now the state of emergency has been lifted. Their threat is enough to shake confidence in tourism in the northern region. Travel industry executives have warned that a resumption in street demonstrations even in the North will damage tourism recovery.
Thailand has been troubled by political unrest for two years from various political factions and a resumption of protests would sink the industry into further debt. It would also force massive lay-offs in employment, beyond the 20% cut backs of the last two months, while ending any prospect of high season recovery.
Privately, travel executives fear the red shirts will march again in September or early October after the annual military reshuffle takes place.
Concerning Bangkok where the strict laws continue, Mr Abhisit added: “For Bangkok and surrounding provinces, it’s a harder decision because Bangkok is the centre of commerce and political activity too.”