Retailers suing for damages from Red Shirt protest


BANGKOK, May 20 –  Retailers at Bangkok’s prime shopping and business area of Ratchaprasong upset by new business losses from the latest Red Shirt protest, plan to sue both the government and Red Shirt leaders for damages.

Supporters of Thailand’s anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the Red Shirt movement, rallied at Ratchaprasong Thursday to mark the anniversary of last year’s May 19 protest clampdown.

Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association President Chai Srivikorn told a news conference that the rally forced vendors and business operators in the area to close their shops and stores to end their working hours early.

Many hotels around Ratchaprasong have been hard hit by the protest as visitors who realised that there would be the demonstration, cancelled 1,500 rooms reserved earlier, while 3,000 customers had cancelled seminars or functions which caused hotels loss of more than Bt10 million, he said.

Shops and stores inside the premium shopping complexes and surrounding areas closed before normal closing time, including Gaysorn Plaza, CentralWorld, and Big C, he said, adding that schools and business were forced to shorten their office hours which affected their businesses.

Moreover, the Bangkok Mass Transport Authority (BMTA) which operates bus services in Bangkok reroute buses to avoid the rally site, which inconvenienced the general public, Mr Chai said.

He said that the rally did not run in accordance with the conditions earlier agreed particularly the blockade of the gate of Big C department store and the Arnoma Hotel which caused particular inconvenience to the staff.

Mr Chai said the association is gathering evidence to sue the government as it knew in advance about the demonstration but, the business spokesman said, the authorities had no plan to cope with the large-scale gathering, and he alleged the police failed to properly handle the rally.

He said the police had early pledged not to allow any demonstrators to block traffic but fail to do so.

The association planned to file a lawsuit against the UDD leaders leading the demonstration causing trouble to the general public and business operators

Mr Chai said the association did not object to demonstrations or protests but wanted the event to be held in an orderly manner, to consider the safety and not caused problems for other people.

He urged all groups who planned to rally to avoid business areas as that could involve violating business owners rights and cause damage to other people. (MCOT online news)