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Yesterday anti government protest leaders vowed to mobilize large scale month-long rallies to occupy Bangkok if Yingluck does not step down as caretaker prime minister despite the house being dissolved on the 9th of December and elections being scheduled for February 2nd.
As Yingluck Shinawatra was greeting admirers on a tour of the northeast of Thailand, Bangkok was overrun by thousands of anti government protestors who rallied around the city and outside Yingluck’s residence and around the main shopping areas.
Yingluck has been in the northeast since she dissolved the house where she has found a lot of moral support from Pheu Thai supporters, however even in the northeast she has not been able to escape the sound of whistles blowing, a symbolic gesture of anti government protestors.
On the way to lunch in Nong Khai Yingluck was faced with seven protestors waving a Thai flag, blowing whistles and yelling “get out, get out”. During her train journey from Udon Thani to Nong Khai she monitored the protestor’s movements via her iPad that is linked to signals from a camera circuit at her home via the internet. She admitted to being worried about the rallies in Bangkok and passed a message to her staff to inform the protestors that she was not at her Bangkok residence.
During her tour of the north she has spent time visiting villagers and revered monks with whom she has made merit. After freeing fish in Nong Bua Lampu she told one reporter “I am now happier”.
It has been reported that she will now focus on making trips to the provinces and may not return to the capital until the New Year.
PDRC secretary general Suthep Thaugsuban has led tens of thousands of protestors on a lively rally though five major sites in Bangkok where they have blocked the traffic and turned the city roads into pedestrian zones after the main opposition party declared a boycott of the snap February election. Along the streets of supporters of the protests waved the Thai flag, blew whistles and gave donations to Suthep who was carrying a black bag to collect cash in one hand and raised a fist with the other as a gesture of the struggle. He told reporters that the number of protestors was higher that he had anticipated and expected more to take to the streets over the next seven to ten days if the government refused to give up their power.
The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) have expressed concern that Thai tourism industry could be hit in the first quarter of next year if the protests go on. Sisdivachr Cheewarattanporn, the ATTA president said he has closely monitored the huge turnout of protestors. He admits that people have the right to express their voice under the democratic system but has grave concerns over the foreign media coverage which could affect the decision of foreign tourists to visit Thailand. He went on to say that under normal circumstances Thailand would expect a large number of tourists to visit Thailand to celebrate the Chinese New Year, however after 39 countries issued travel advisories against travel to Thailand he expects numbers to be down.