Protests did not affect us

The three-day holiday in Bangkok for Singaporean Leonard Koh, 27, and his wife, went almost smoothly.

Except on Wednesday evening when they saw about 100 protesters marching on the road outside their hotel in Thailand's capital city.

Mr Koh, a logistics officer, told The New Paper on Thursday: "Some roads were closed. So our taxi driver had to make a few detours." That was about the only problem he faced during his time there.

The protests began after embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's ruling Puea Thai Party tried last month to pass an amnesty bill that would have absolved political offences stretching back to a 2006 military coup, effectively clearing her brother Thaksin of a 2008 graft conviction and allowing him to return from self-imposed exile.

On Monday, Mr Koh and his wife were outside the Siam Paragon Shopping centre where more than 1,000 protesters had gathered.

MAIN TARGETS

Mr Koh started a conversation with a protester who said their main targets were the finance ministry and the parliament area.

Said the protester: "If things get worse and the police act, we will go to the airport."

He was probably speaking on his own because protest leaders made no mention of plans to take over the international airport.

Talking about the situation in Bangkok, Mr Koh said: "Some protesters stood on top of 14-foot pick up trucks. They blew whistles, banged drums and waved their national flag as they cheered."

Around 100 policemen holding riot shields formed a line in front of the neighbouring police headquarters.

Mr Koh said tourist areas were not affected by the protests during his stay there.

He said: "At the moment, Bangkok is safe for tourists." He urged those heading to the Thai capital to "go ahead and enjoy".

In a show of defiance, protesters cut power to the national police headquarters on Thursday.

This comes after Ms Yingluck, who survived a no-confidence motion, pleaded with the protesters to end their rallies, AFP reported.

A senior police officer said the police headquarters was being powered by a generator.

It was unclear how police would respond to the provocative move. But so far they have avoided confrontation with the demonstrators.

Protesters marched to the defence ministry on Thursday, a day after entering a major government complex in the north of the capital and forcing the evacuation of the Department of Special Investigations - Thailand's equivalent of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The protests have triggered growing international concern, with United Nations' chief Ban Ki Moon the latest world leader to voice alarm.

His spokesman Martin Nesirky said: "The Secretary- General calls on all sides to exercise the utmost restraint, refrain from the use of violence and to show full respect for the rule of law and human rights."

- Additional reporting by Wee Jing Long


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