As always, it would be wise to be wary of how all news reports are describing not just the events as they unfold, but also the context. This includes how international reports are portraying the protests.
Oversimplifying does not help understand what is happening. The same old agendas are being touted: royal and military influence in politics, the extent of corruption among uniform-wearing officials and the degree of class inequality throughout society, among others. These are certainly key issues, but bundling them altogether as if all the protesters want all the same things is just not real.
As valid as these issues may be, and regardless of what each person agrees or disagrees with each issue, for certain the goal for some players in this arena is to polarise the issues – and hence polarise the people in opposing camps.
While this is playing out in Bangkok, the whole country is still figuring out whether or not to allow tourists to enter the country, amid fears that doing so will spark an outbreak of COVID-19 throughout the nation.
This issue now also seems to have polarised the people. Some areas such as Phuket are in dire need to restart tourism to provide incomes one way or the other for local residents, while in other, geographically much larger areas, tourism is a far from a primary concern. People in those areas can do without tourism, and from their point of view quite rightly call to keep the door closed. In the long-term, Phuket cannot. The island needs tourism to restart anything.
The key to both these two critical concerns – political uncertainty and the economic crisis – is that on both these issues, we must not reach an impasse. The longer a stalled scenario plays out, the longer everyone suffers. The Kingdom must work its magic to find the middle way.
In the political realm, those who claim they want peace and have a clear agenda to enforce change or maintain the status quo – and have the support to carry that agenda out – they can do so peacefully and legally. If they do not hold to that, regardless of who they are, their claims are not genuine.
The same applies for the tourism-restart standoff. The answer does not have to be either allow all tourists in immediately, or allow none at all. The response to COVID-19 has never been about eliminating any infections. The reality has always been about how the rate of infections is managed.
Both these key issues require a real-world approach, without the catastrophic consequences.