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Bangkok Shutdown

Private sector keeps operating for the most part, but city sees

Most private businesses continued to operate while anti-government protesters led by the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) began their "shutdown" campaign in several areas of Bangkok yesterday.

Commercial banks had temporarily closed more 123 branches near the major rally sites as of 3.30pm, according to the Bank of Thailand. More than half, or 76, belonged to TMB Bank, followed by Krungthai Bank, which closed 16 branches.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand opened as usual. Although the Students' and People's Network for Thailand's Reform has threatened to blockade the SET building on Ratchadaphisek Road tomorrow, bourse president Charamporn Jotikasthira said board of directors would meet as scheduled. The SET has prepared measures to deal with any crisis caused by the protesters and to carry on trading.

Department stores near protest sites were open yesterday but closed earlier than normal because of congestion on the streets. Major shopping malls such as CentralWorld, CentralPlaza Ladprao, Gaysorn Shopping Centre, Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery also closed early as traffic jams inconvenienced their customers.

Most of the malls were open by 10am, except CentralWorld, which was unable to open until noon.

Big C Rajdamri closed at 6pm.

Union Mall, located on a five-way intersection in Lat Phrao district, was closed for the whole day.

According to a statement by the Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association (RSTA), it will propose to the PDRC that it use the procedures employed during the New Year countdown event as a way to organise the rally in the area to ensure security of the demonstrators and nearby locations. The format includes the implementation of strict security measures, ensuring the demonstrations do not block traffic lanes, and the preparation of emergency exit lanes.

The association has also stepped up its Ratchaprasong Integrated Security System consisting more than 1,500 cameras in the area to monitor the situation closely.

RSTA member shopping malls and hotels operated as usual. However, it urged the PDRC not to prolong the campaign so as to damage the country's economy, given that Ratchaprasong is one of the city's key economic areas.

Meanwhile, property and construction firms with offices near the rally sites such as Land & Houses, LPN Development, Sansiri, Pruksa Real Estate, AP (Thailand) and Siam City Cement were open yesterday.

"If the staff cannot get to the office they can work at home," Sansiri president Srettha Thavisin said.

According to reports received by the BOT, Krungthai Bank's temporary branch closures included those at Government House, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (Ploenchit), Union Mall Lat Phrao, the Energy Complex, TOT Chaeng Wattana, Government Complex Buildings A and B, the Department of Special Investigation, the Revenue Department and the Finance Ministry.

Bank of Ayudhya branch closures included Zuellig House, the Government Complex, Chaeng Wattana 14 branch, The Avenue Chaeng Wattana, Union Mall and the Energy Complex.

Bangkok Bank closed branches at the Energy Complex, Government Complex A and B, and TOT Chaeng Wattana.

Siam Commercial Bank closures included its branches in Government Complex Buildings A and B branches, the Si Ayutthaya Building, and the Department of Land Transport. The Energy Complex branch shifted service to Ratchayothin branch, which is SCB headquarters.

Kasikornbank closed branches at Government Complex Building B, the Energy Complex, Union Mall and Thai Airways International.

The bank moved the cheque services at its Patpong and Energy Complex branches to the chequing direct-service centre at Muang Thai-Phatara Complex Tower Plaza.

State-owned Government Savings Bank also temporarily closed branches at the Finance Ministry, Government House, the Energy Complex, the Government Complex, and the Department of Consular Affairs.

Government Housing Bank temporarily closed its branches at Siam Square, Paholyothin, the Government Complex and Shinawatra 3 Building, and its counter services at IT Square Laksi Plaza and Big C Changwattana.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand set up a special team to step up the security at its power production and transmission systems. It has also coordinated with the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and the Provincial Electricity Authority on the matter.

Egat operated as usual yesterday.


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