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Bangkok shutdown

'Bangkok shutdown' a boon

Vendors sell T-shirts featuring a Thai flag symbol at the Victory Monument

Vendors sell T-shirts featuring a Thai flag symbol at the Victory Monument

Despite much uncertainty over the country's political and economic situation, the "Bangkok shutdown" led by the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has created business opportunities for small vendors seeking to cash in on the huge number of protesters out on the city's streets.

The PDRC's anti-government demonstration has not only attracted a huge number of supporters, but also turned the colours and image of the national flag into the centrepiece of popular fashion items among many Thais.

Kattiya Thanasilapachai, 25, has temporarily changed her business from selling fishing equipment at a shop on Buddhamonthon Sai 2 to a small street-side stall selling whistles and accessories with the colours of the Thai flag at the massive demonstration being held at Victory Monument.

"We have purchased whistles and accessories, such as wrist and hair bands, from Sampeng Market and decorated them with Thai flag ribbons. We have invested more than Bt10,000 in these art and hand-made items, and expect to achieve Bt20,000 in earnings," she said.

Kattiya said that apparel, whistles and accessories decorated in national-flag colours had become increasingly popular among Thais - Bangkokians and provincial people alike - during this phase of the anti-government rallies being organised by the PDRC.

Many of the protesters have also purchased items with the image of the Thai flag and wording such as "Love King, Love Thailand", "Shut Down Bangkok, Restart Thailand" and "Reform Before Election".

Thanakrit Parndamrong, 58, a senior officer at the National Statistical Office, who has been selling his own-design T-shirts at the rallies held by the PDRC at the Democracy Monument and the Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road, said he wanted to communicate to buyers his cumulative experience from joining the demonstrations.

"I have placed my ideas gained from participating in the rallies into the T-shirts I have designed," said Thanakrit, who graduated from Pohchang College.

He currently operates a street-side stall for his T-shirts at Victory Monument, one of the main rally locations during the PDRC's Bangkok shutdown campaign.

About 300 T-shirts were sold in just three hours on Monday, which was the first day of the campaign.

Chalorat Tarncharoen, 63, a rally supporter from Ratchaburi province, said she had taken part in the anti-government demonstrations seven to eight times over the past two and a half months and loves to buy T-shirts and accessories carrying the symbol of the Thai flag.

"I have bought clothing and accessories, such as a whistle, wrist band, bracelet, earrings and hair band, all with the Thai flag on as them as they represent my mind and feelings that I love my country," she said.

Another PDRC supporter, Natthika Suwanaksorn, 45, said: "I have bought six T-shirts already. They are attractive and I have not seen this type of thing with the decoration of the Thai flag's colours, which represents the symbol of Thailand, before. So, I want to keep them as memorable items."

Lek, a motorcycle-taxi rider who normally operates at Saphan Khwai intersection, said his income had risen from servicing passengers that have joined the Bangkok shutdown demonstration.

"I provide a motorcycle-taxi service to rally supporters at Victory Monument, who want to move from here to other rally locations, such as the five-way Lat Phrao junction and Ratchaprasong. I have earned between Bt2,000 and Bt3,000 a day, which is much higher than the Bt400-Bt600 from my normal service at Saphan Khwai intersection," he said.


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