Bangkok will rise like a phoenix

City residents will rebuild and prove that the collective good is a force greater than the terrorists who laid waste to our homes and businesses

As the smoke from the fires starts to dissipate, Bangkok is left in ashes. The front page of every newspaper featured CentralWorld and Centre One, where hundreds of small entrepreneurs made their living, left as a shell.

Many shop-owners in the Siam Square area came back to survey the damage yesterday. A young shop-owner could not hold back his tears when he saw that there was nothing left of his shop. But in that sad moment, the young man made an admirable remark. Asked by a Channel 5 reporter what he felt about his loss, he said, "I am not worried about the loss of my shop and merchandise. They are materials that I think I will be able to find again. But I would like to Thais to love each other again." News reports yesterday morning also featured interviews with many other affected people.

As of press time, there was no official estimate of the losses. But it does not take a genius to figure out that thousands of people will be adversely affected. There were many local entrepreneurs operating inside these shopping complexes, many of which were selling locally-made merchandise.

This difficult time is a test for Bangkokians to show our spirit, to show that we will rise. And each and every one of us can contribute to the rebuilding process. We cannot wait for the government, which has limited resources, to deal with this loss. We must unite to rebuild the city that we love and care for.

As the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority started the cleaning-up process, some associations and faith groups made it known that they are ready to provide volunteers to clean up damaged areas of Bangkok. Their good intent is something that we all must try to emulate. Local communities can contribute by organising volunteers to assist in their neighbourhoods. No one can live happily if neighbours are suffering.

Fund-raising and donations are possible options to assist those affected. Those who are lucky enough to not be affected can contribute by sparing pennies to assist in finding temporary sites for people to live or earn a living.

The digital network will go into operation. It will be possible to form volunteer groups through Facebook and other social networking websites. Communities must also engage in surveillance to root out those who have evil intentions.

It was heartbreaking to see central Bangkok destroyed in only a couple of hours. What is more saddening is that these landmarks, which were built out of positive forces, were burned down in hatred. It took passion and years of effort to create these edifices. Many young innovators and small entrepreneurs were able to demonstrate their creative and commercial prowess through the products that they offered.

In spite of its old age and shabby appearance, the Siam Theatre was a venerable landmark. This theatre was a source of inspiration for young artists and filmmakers for four decades. With its spacious auditorium and Bt30 bags of popcorn, it was a haven for film fans who couldn't afford the multiplexes.

Financial activities will also be affected as dozens of banks were burned down.

This violence will not dampen our spirit. Over the past couple of days, Bangkok has wept. But the city will emerge stronger. Bangkok will rise from the ashes with the powerful forces of love, care and compassion. The terrible incidents of the past couple of days have showed the unimaginable result of how hatred, greed and ignorance can create massive destruction. But now it's time for us to show that the opposite forces of compassion, generosity and wisdom shall prevail.

Bangkok will be reborn stronger through our united will.

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