January 16, 2014 00:00
By PRAVIT ROJANAPHRUK
AT FIRST GLANCE, the protest-related souvenirs on sale at the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) rally sites appear no different to those sold at red-shirt protests back in 2010.
But look a little closer and you realise that many of the mementoes are catering to deeper pockets – far deeper than those sported when red shirts were around.
At the cheaper end are the military green T-shirts emblazoned with “We’re People of the King” available for Bt120 on a footpath near Ratchaprasong intersection. But for real protest chic you have to head to the Siam Center mall.
There, a cool Bt3,200 will get you a long-sleeved T-shirt that “shouts” fashionable, rich and patriotic all at the same time.
Created by trendy Thai fashion house AB-NORMAL, the posh tee is a unisex design stitched from different pieces of fabric to signify the national flag, a shop clerk explained.
Designer T-shirt not enough to set you apart from the mass of well-heeled, patriotic protesters? Then how about the Swarovski ring with tiny crystals arranged to look like a little Thai flag? It goes for a little over Bt3,000 at a menswear section of Siam Paragon.
The upscale department store is having to close two hours early due to the activities of the anti-government crowd, who are protesting nearby at the Pathum Wan intersection and using Paragon as their headquarters.
The mall is making the most of the extra business. A sales assistant was eager to assure me that the ring was a good investment as the protest could drag on indefinitely.
Also filled to the brim with well-heeled protesters are nearby coffee shops (selling brews that cost nearly half the daily minimum wage) and high-end restaurants.
At about 1.30pm on Tuesday, |I noticed a middle-aged man looking a bit lost and idly perusing fashionable young men’s apparel.
He was wearing a black polo-shirt with a neatly stitched message in English: “Bangkok showdown, popular uprising VS lame-duck government”.
Perhaps he wanted foreigners to know he’s not unemployed.
Yes, this uprising is definitely catering to a “higher class” of protester than the one back in 2010.