Beefed-up security hits businesses in Bangkok

Beefed-up security hits businesses in Bangkok
Large LCD screens at the Victory Monument show pro-military footages.

The Victory Monument and the Ratchaprasong intersection, which had been the epicentre of the anti-coup protests and military supervision in the past weeks, seems to be avoided by many people fearing conflict. As a result, businesses of all kinds are taking a hit, despite the junta's best efforts to create an atmosphere of reconciliation.

At first glance, both areas seem to open for business as usual on a Saturday afternoon, but most stall owners are wearing a frown on what should be their most profitable day. From clothes shops to public transport van service, they said their customer numbers had dwindled by at least a half as a result of the past unrest.

Late last month, soldiers had closed off Victory Monument following a stand-off between soldiers and anti-coup protesters, which ended with an Army Humvee being vandalised. Many shopkeepers believe this was why their businesses were most badly affected.

Chalong Wongkamchan, 40, said that the demand for his public transport van service at Victory Monument had dropped severely. Before the protest, he had around 180 customers a day but since then, he could only find 80. His transport service to Chon Buri was also down from 200 customers to just 100 at peak time.

A clothes vendor at Victory Monument, who refrained from giving his name, said he could usually sell 50-60 pieces of clothing a day before the protests but afterwards, he could only sell around 15 a day. "These days, the vendors look around at each other's stall to see who is going to survive," he said.

He suspects that people are scared off by the Army's presence, as there are about a 100 soldiers and policemen who come to guard Victory Monument every evening.

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