Stink bombs de­ployed in mar­ket riot

Bangkok Post - - National -

Klong Toey fresh mar­ket was en­gulfed with a vile stench yes­ter­day as ven­dors used home­made stink bombs — pla ra (fer­mented fish) — to fend off re­de­vel­op­ment work­ers and po­lice.

The tur­moil took place when about 100 ven­dors tried to stop Le­gal Pro­fes­sion Co staff led by chair­man Tham­manat Prompao from set­ting up tents to be used as a tem­po­rary sub­sti­tute for their stalls af­ter work be­gan on ren­o­va­tions.

About 300 of­fi­cers from the Metropoli­tan Po­lice Bureau and Port Po­lice Sta­tion were called in to pro­tect the work­ers, who were greeted by jeers and pelted with ob­jects by en­raged ven­dors.

Chokchai Deep­raser­twit, chief of the bureau’s Divi­sion 5, said po­lice were called in at the re­quest of the firm.

The Port Au­thor­ity of Thai­land, which owns the land on which the mar­ket stands, re­fused to re­new con­tracts with three for­mer mar­ket op­er­a­tors and awarded a con­ces­sion to the com­pany.

The change in con­ces­sion fu­elled fears of evic­tion among the ven­dors, which has re­sulted in a pro­longed con­flict be­tween the new de­vel­oper and traders.

Pol Maj Gen Chokchai said talks be­tween rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Le­gal Pro­fes­sion, the ven­dors and the port au­thor­ity had failed to end the dead­lock.

Kitja Mon­wong, who rep­re­sented the au­thor­ity, said Le­gal Pro­fes­sion had the right to im­prove the mar­ket.

Ten­sions flared as ven­dors tried to force out the work­ers and po­lice­men from the mar­ket by hav­ing fe­male ven­dors form a hu­man shield with a backup team hurl­ing bags of pla ra stink bombs.

Fifty riot con­trol po­lice­men were called in to re­in­force the of­fi­cers mo­bilised to keep the crowd un­der con­trol.

The num­ber of ram­pag­ing ven­dors swelled to more than 300 and spilled into an in­ter­sec­tion on Rama IV Road, caus­ing heavy traf­fic con­ges­tion. They oc­cu­pied the in­ter­sec­tion, rop­ing off the area with garbage bins.

The sit­u­a­tion wors­ened when pork ven­dor Suwit Ngamtuen, 32, was ar­rested. A po­lice van was mobbed by an­gry ven­dors as his wife and weep­ing daugh­ter asked po­lice to release him.

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