Sunday, 7 September 2008

Rural Thais say Bangkok protests hit livelihoods (IHT)

BAAN BANGSAI, Thailand: Rural Thais say the middle class Bangkok protesters occupying Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's compound are destroying their livelihoods and should end their three-month campaign to topple the government.
They say demand for their goods has been hurt by a state of emergency that prompted some schools in Bangkok to close and has made people spend less, while rail and port strikes hit sales at home and abroad.
Somporn Graisamran, a fish supplier to Bangkok markets, said she now made a third of what she was making two months ago after a state of emergency declared on Tuesday.
"I want to see it over as soon as possible. I don't want to see my business suffer further losses," Somporn said on Friday in Baan Bangsai, a village 80 km (50 miles) north of Bangkok.
If she sold less fish, that meant fish farmers in Baan Bangsai earned less and fewer labourers were hired to catch fish for the market, she said, adding her daily sales had gone down to 500 kg (1,100 lb) from nearly 2 tonnes.

"I only wish they would stop soon. I am very eager to see them arrested, with the authorities taking decisive action to deal with them," said Chaiyaporn, whose glass business had also slowed.
"I don't care who leads the government, I just want a government that can move the country forward," he said.
The village's handicraft business got a big boost after Thaksin became prime minister in 2001 and launched a nationwide programme to create jobs for villagers -- one of the reasons why he and Samak, an ally, are so popular in the countryside.
"Our living conditions improved significantly during the Thaksin government. We don't know if he was corrupt, but we know that he made our lives better," glass blower Prapha said.

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