Thais stand strong and step up security after bombing

pix 1The Thai people pulled together and stood strong following last week’s deadly terrorist bombing at a Bangkok shrine as thousands lined up at local hospitals to donate blood for victims and the government stepped up security to ensure the safety of tourists and citizens.

Teams of soldiers and police accompanied by bomb sniffing dogs were out in force around Bangkok and most popular tourist destinations in various parts of the country to ease public concerns and deter any further or copycat attacks. Life in Bangkok quickly returned to a semblance of normality a little over a day after the incident, with commuter trains running on schedule, and schools, stores and offices open and conducting near regular levels of business.

“The government wants all of you to have confidence that you will be safe during your stay in Thailand. There will be reinforcement of both uniformed and plainclothes officers providing security in every spot to ensure optimum safety,’’ Government Spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.

Thailand’s constitutional monarch King Bhumibol Adjulyadej and Queen Sirikit sent messages of condolences to head of state and president of four countries, including Malaysia, China, Singapore and Indonesia, whose citizens have lost their lives in the explosion, where a total of 20 people were killed and 130 injured.

A multi-faith religious ceremony for the victims was held at the Erawan Shrine, the site of the bombing, and was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who oversees national security.

The government and airlines waved fees and charges for victims and their relatives. Hotels offered free accommodation for families of those affected. Countless Thais posted messages of sympathy and support on social media and spread police sketches of the suspected bomber to try and assist with his capture.

“It’s my duty to help, as a Thai, as a person,” said Khonnon Jathraukul as he donated blood at the Thai Red Cross. “I have O blood type and it is useful.”

Hospital staff said that after making a public called for translators, because some of the victims were Chinese, they received so many volunteers. “I feel sad because I want Thailand to be known as a friendly country. What happened was not the real Thailand,” said Benyapawee Ngamtanakitja, a 19-year-old university student with Chinese-language skills who volunteered her services.

Messages of support for Thailand poured in from governments, media and friends of the Kingdom from around the world, with several governments also condemning the attack. The White House and United States Secretary of State John Kerry expressed deep sympathy with those affected, and said the hearts of the American people are with the victims and their families and the Thai emergency responders.

Darren Buckley, the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, told CNBC that the incident is “not going to change long-term investor sentiment. [The government] has been very strong on safety and security … and the Thai economy has some strong fundamentals despite growth slowing.”

He added that U.S. business have invested over $17 billion in foreign direct investment in Thailand and have over $50 billion accumulated in the Kingdom.

On a similar note, Curtis Chin from the Milken Institute also told CNBC that despite the incident, “Thailand will remain a key player in Asia.”

Government spokesman Sansern said the govertment wanted to express its deepest admiration to people for extending a helping hand to each other in a time of crisis, whether by assisting those attending the injured, providing free motorcycle-taxi rides in the area, or responding to the Thai Red Cross’s urgent appeal for blood.

An official government statement said: “The Royal Thai Government wishes to reassure the public that the situation is under complete control of security officials. Additional security personnel, both in uniform and plainclothes, have been deployed to patrol every area so as to accord maximum security to the general public. In addition, the Royal Thai Government would like to convey to all foreigners who are planning on traveling to Thailand, be they for tourism, trade, educational or business purposes, or MICE, that the Government shall be doing its utmost to provide a safe and secure environment for the duration of your stay in Thailand, complemented with Thai friendliness and hospitality as always.”



Thailand Focus August 24th, 2015
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