Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, has been stricken by a devastating act of terror outside a Hindu shrine reportedly endowed with mystical powers, a shrine also very popular with Buddhists, particularly ethnic Chinese from the mainland and East Asia as well as Thais. There is no word yet on the perpetrators and what their motives and political leanings are.
It does appear though that the most powerful blast ever in Bangkok has been aimed at striking a blow against the government and the tourist industry, which is one of the smoother operating parts of an otherwise faltering Thai economy. Given the background of Yingluck Shinawatra’s civilian government having been dislodged in May 2014 by the generals who now rule, Thailand is no stranger to political unrest.
The busy Ratchaprasong intersection in the heart of Bangkok is also a kind of Tiananmen Square where mass public protests have taken place in recent times even as in history it is marked as a place where criminals were displayed. It is the symbolism of the explosion that must be particularly worrying for a country whose tourism industry, with visitors from mainland China said to bring in an estimated $56 billion, is flourishing.
With the Army generals asserting that the terror may not have been perpetrated by the militant insurgents of southern Thailand, the need to identify the motive becomes vital. The chances of the act being aimed at the military for its continued suppression of democracy cannot be discounted.