Conflict & Justice

Bangkok may or may not explode


Members of a Thai bomb squad inspect the scene of an explosion at bus stop in Bangkok on July 26, 2010.



Anyone planning to join New Year's festivities in one of Asia's party capitals, Bangkok, will be sobered by this story in The Nation, an English language newspaper.

It claims that police, fearing bomb attacks, urge tourists to avoid 10 sites.

They include backpacker haunt Khao San Road, red-light mecca Nana, glitzy CentralWorld mall, teen hangout Victory Monument and pretty much any place tourists and locals would go to ring in 2012. (A similar warning for New York City would scare revelers away from Times Square, Williamsburg, Greenwich Village, etc.)

It's the type of warning that could sap tourism at a time when Bangkok, recovering from record flooding, could really use it.

But did officials really say that?

At least one Thai-language outlet suggests that this is a rumor amplified by the snowball effect of sloppy journalism.

The "10 bomb sites" warning has arisen from a misunderstanding, Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister, Chalerm Yoobamrung, tells the newspaper Naew Na.

The deputy claims reporters have misunderstood his calls for vigilance during celebrations, which were marred by mysterious bomb attacks on New Year's Eve in 2006. Several bombs have been discovered and defused in recent days around government sites in Bangkok.

But Chalerm says he never said pointed out 10 potential New Year's eve bombing sites.

He told the newspaper "I'm not crazy enough to create panic" as did another paper's columnist, who suggested that the threats would soften tourism and scare off visitors.