101 East

Thai red shirts

After weeks of protests, what will it take for political stability to return to Thailand?

For over one month, tens of thousands of supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s former Prime Minister, known as red shirts, have demonstrated on the streets of Bangkok, calling for a dissolution of parliament and new elections.

It is just another upheaval that has rocked the kingdom since 2006 when Thaksin was removed from office in a military coup.

Thailand has become an increasing battlefield of the classes with the red shirts mostly rural and urban poor, pitted against the elite, a loose coalition of royalists, businessmen and the middle class who support the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The red shirts movement has led to the closure of luxury department stores and hotels in Bangkok, running up business losses at nearly $10m per day.

With the political turmoil hurting Thai retail and tourism industries, the pressure is on to solve the crisis.

But with both sides remaining defiant, the stage seems set for a battle of attrition.

On this edition of 101 East, we ask what it will take for political stability to return to Thailand.

This 101 East episode airs from Thursday, April 15, 2010 at the following times GMT: Thursday: 1230; Friday: 0300; Saturday: 0530, 1730; Sunday: 0330, 1130; Monday: 1630; Tuesday: 1430; Wednesday: 0830, 1930; Thursday: 0630.