Holiday extended after Bangkok Riots – Thailand closed for 10 daysBy Garry | April 15th, 2009 | Category: News Reports, Politics | 3 comments
Thailand, 15 April 2009 – Following the assault upon, and cancellation of, the “ASEAN plus dialogue partners” meeting of Heads of State in Pattaya, Thailand last week by the red-shirted followers of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai government announced, late on Thursday 9th April, that there would be a closure of all government offices on Friday 10th.
This unscheduled holiday preceded and joined with the scheduled Thai traditional New Year (Songkran) holiday occurring from Saturday 11th April to Wednesday 15th April. These dates included closure of all Government and Post Offices within Thailand.
Following the violence and civil unrest that broke out in Bangkok over the Songkran / Easter weekend, instigated by the same red-shirted factions, current Democrat Party Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva instructed, on Tuesday 14 April, that Thursday and Friday 16-17 April would be an extension to the national holiday, in order to give the government time to make central Bangkok safe for people to return to their workplaces.
UPDATED - see below
Government and Post Offices in Thailand are therefore officially closed from 9 April to 17 April (inclusive) due to these emergency holidays. It is currently unknown if post offices will open for the normal half day on Saturday, 18 April, and it is generally believed this will be at the discretion of individual post masters, and therefore unlikely in most locations.
Whilst the official extended holidays finish on Friday 17th April, overseas trading partners should expect most post offices to extend that holiday and not reopen until Monday 20th April. Similarly, government ministries affecting cross-border trade, such as the Department of Export Promotion, the Board of Investment, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will all also be closed.
Customers and suppliers outside of Thailand need to be understanding of the unforeseen delays these government office closures cause, and that they are outside of any control of your trading partners located within the kingdom. Both despatch and postal-transit delays will occur until the situation normalises next week. Banks and the Stock Exchange of Thailand are reported to be planning to open as normal on Thursday and Friday, though this may be subject to unannounced change.
Within Thailand, and in fact within Bangkok, the civil unrest was extremely localised with much of the city and the rest of the country not involved.
Life went on as normal, and the holiday “water war” festivities proceeded as normal.
Outside of Bangkok and Pattaya, there was no change to normality and travel warnings issued by foreign governments should only be considered as valid for central Bangkok, and only for the period until the protestors have completed dispersing, which they began doing early on Tuesday 14th April.
The reason for the national extension of the holiday is due to the huge numbers of people who travel coss country to be with family in their home villages and towns for the festival (the second official day of the holiday – Tuesday this year – is “family day” within the context of the Songkran tradition). By extending the holiday, the government hopes to avoid a traffic swamping of routes into and out of Bangkok during the clean-up operations.
A serious concern to expatriates, living within the country, is that they are unable to conduct compulsory activities, such as extending or renewing permissions to stay (visas) and work-permits during this holiday extension. It is to be hoped that the Thai government officers display understanding that failure of ability to re-apply was not caused by the expatriates, but by their own government and countrymen.
Online reports in expatriate forums indicate Thai Immigration Police offices are ignoring the extended holiday on 16th & 17th – Phuket is one office that has been reported as intending to open. Superintendent of Phuket Immigration, Police Colonel Chanatpol Yongbunjerd, said today that the 10-day closure of government offices would not apply to Immigration offices according to the Phuketwan.com website.
These revised holiday dates will not affect Immigration and Customs functions at international airports, although they may extend the shortage of seats on domestic air and land transport until the holidays finally finish.
They may also have an extended effect on hotel and guest house room shortages in popular Songkran holiday centres such as Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya. If in doubt, contact your planned transport company or accommodation for clarification.
(All photos from “The Manager” website – www.manager.co.th)
UPDATE - Late on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Thai Post said their offices would not be taking the additional two days holiday, “in order to clear the backlog of mail deliveries”. Although they did not state the counter services would be open to accept new mail for delivery, today (Thursday) in Chiang Mai, they were certainly doing so.