Part III – A hot afternoon



Part I - Background & A night on the bridge
Part II - Crossing the lines
Part III - A hot afternoon
Part IV - The shooting starts
Part V - Ian Neumegen, a foreigner killed in the disturbances
Part VI - Soldiers advance through Banglampoo
Part VII - Aftermath
Comments on the Black May 1992 story

Part III - A hot afternoon
May 18, 1992
(Posted on 2Bangkok.com on May 24, 2004)


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

At 1:00 pm I left work and walked along Ratchadamnoen Avenue. It was a blazing hot day and people had mostly retreated to the shade.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

There was quite a bit of debris


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Present day: Ratchadamnoen Avenue is much more touristy now with McDonalds and other lively restaurants on three corners of the Democracy Monument roundabout.
In 1992 most of old buildings along Ratchadamnoen were run down and occupied by long-term lease holders with no shops that catered to people walking along the street (such as restaurant or groceries).
The photo above shows Ratchadamnoen Avenue buildings newly painted for the September, 2003 APEC meeting.
Right is a screen capture from the 1940s that shows the Ratchadamnoen Avenue buildings under construction in the background.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Dinso Road - protesters confronting the army


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

There were probably 10-15,000 camped out in front of Phan Fa Bridge.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Above: Sheets of plastic were spread out over the crowds to provide shade.

Left: Protesters taking a mid-afternoon nap.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
Protesters on the Mahakan Fort overlooking the Phan Fa Bridge.
Present day: Right, the fort dramatically lit for Loy Kratong 2003 with the Golden Mount in the background. Mahakan Fort and the community behind it are slated to become a tourist park.
The other extant city fort is Prasumen Fort.

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
Several sour characters like this one in the white jacket (left) were taking closeup photos of protesters in what seemed to be an attempt to intimidate. Whoever this was has a photo of me. He did not like having his picture taken though.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

The front lines on Phan Fa Bridge. Since this time the bridge as been expanded with extra lanes. This makes it much less of a choke point to prevent people from heading towards the Parliament Building and Government House areas.

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
Another shot through the front lines. This was one place I tried to pass by, but was stopped.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Protester holding on to ornamental sculpture on Phan Fa Bridge


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Trees around Phan Fa Bridge had what appeared to be lookouts or possibly snipers.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Despite the sporadic violence of the previous day, there was a relaxed atmosphere and no one seemed worried.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Chumlong Sirmuang - leader of Palang Dharma Party and one of the protest leaders. Throughout the day as I walked through the crowds it was as if I was invisible--no one acknowledged me. When I got up close and photographed Chumlong, he was the only person who seemed to see me. He at first looked suspiciously at me and then gave me an uncertain smile and nod.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Present day: What happened to the Palang Dharma Party?

The Palang Dharma Party was started in 1988 and led by the charismatic Chumlong Sirmuang. It became a major, but short-lived, populist movement. Some were put off by the unorthodox teachings of the Santi Asoke sect (of which Chumlong was a member), but overall Chumlong is remembered as one of the first modern political personalities who attempted to demonstrate honesty and integrity as selling points for his candidacy.

After the events of May 1992, the Palang Dharma Party reached the zenith of its power by participating in several coalition governments. However it quickly dissolved--both because of the mercurial and eccentric Chumlong's uncertain commitment to politics and his choice to head the party in his stead--a young billionaire named Thaksin Shinawatra.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

As the afternoon wore on, more protesters retreated to the shade to rest.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Handing out rambutan to refresh the crowd.

A rearguard line of soldiers at Kok Wua intersection to prevent protesters from returning to Sanam Luang.

Part IV - The shooting starts


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
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