Sunday, November 30, 2008

HUMAN CRISES STEMMING FROM SEIGE IN AIRPORT IN BANGKOK By Kevin Stoda, a regular Thai tourist and SE Asian Traveler “An estimated 6-7 million Filip


By Kevin Stoda, a regular Thai tourist and SE Asian Traveler

“An estimated 6-7 million Filipinos, a good 10% of the population, live and work abroad. Most are in the Middle East, although large numbers work in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Western Europe, and elsewhere.”


On Friday morning last week, I was surprised to see a Filipino friend of mine, Pong, still in Kuwait attending church with his friends.

Although it was nice to meet Pong again on my day off from work, I was certainly not expecting to see him on the last Friday in Thailand. Let me explain! Pong had been planning to fly the prior evening (November 27) to the Philippines.

Sadly, Pong and thousands of others of his Filipino countrymen (working all over Asia and Europe) had been booked on a Thai Airways, Kuwait Airlines and other Asian flights via Bangkok to Manila in November and December 2008. The Suvarnabhumi Airport near Bangkok is the 13th largest airport in the world and the second biggest in south and southeast Asia.

However, a week ago, several thousand political fanatics financed by some very wealthy anti-government bigwigs in Thailand have taken over this largest of airports in Southeast Asia in recent weeks.

Possibly, more than one million people will have been stranded within before the Airport Sieges ends (hopefully some time) in December 2008.


Just as over millions of other Filipinos (Pinoys) leave their homeland each year, Pong has had to abandon his home and family for a steadier and more lucrative job than the suspect-, almost always-corrupt, and under-performing Southeast Asian government of the Philippines affords most of its citizens.

Because so many Filipinos are forced to work abroad, one quickly has to admit that a large portion of the Filipino economy each year depends on the infusion of Filipinos’ labor in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Australia, and North America.

Because, as a whole, Filipinos have better English skills than do some other South Asian peoples, such as the Bangladeshis or Indonesians who come to the Middle East, the Pinoys have developed a market niche in some global communities, such as the wealthy Gulf States.§ion=0&article=105556&d=11&m=1&y=2008

This has enabled and encouraged the Filipino government to occasionally defend its victimized workers abroad more diligently in the Gulf Region than Indian nationals have experienced in recent decades.

For example, the government of the Philippines has recently stated that no more Filipinos will be allowed to work in the Persian Gulf till Gulf countries as maids until wages are improved for the Filipina than has been the case to-date.

While this is good, the Gulf states which exploit cheap Asian labor on a regular basis have, in turn, threatened Filipinos and their government with labor and visa restrictions.

Besides many maids and other Filipinos have to work 7 days a week and suffer a lot working in Kuwait and other Gulf States.§ion=theuae&xfile=data/theuae/2006/December/theuae_December695.xml

For example, in 2007, there was originally a new GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) call to restrict Filipino labor.

The reason given by the GCC in 2007 for such restrictions targeting Filipino laborer was obviously a backlash response to Filipinos attempting to get fair-pay for good labor in the UAE and in other neighboring lands: “The GCC may ban Filipinos from coming to the Gulf to work due to regulations passed by the Southeast Asian country’s government aimed at improving the standard of living for its citizens working in the region.”

Other Filipinos serve on ships around the globe and have been among those nationals kidnapped by Somali Pirates in 2008.

My friend Pong is one of the thousands of Filipinos in Kuwait who take jobs subcontracted to the large military base south of the Kuwait International Airport.

NOTE: Officially, the Philippines forbids (as stated in its passports) Filipinos taking jobs in Iraq during the current occupation, but this does not stop unscrupulous recruiters in, around, and working out of U.S. military bases from recruiting Filipinos and other nationals from working as subcontractors in Iraq.

Pong is on call 7 days a week and has severe restrictions on his ability to leave Kuwait to visit his family.

So, the current take-over of the Suvarnabhumi Airport is not only ruining the economy, Christmas, New Years, and Hajj for millions of Southeast Asians, but it is keeping hundreds of thousands from their families--before they are forced to return to their jobs in Kuwait in a few weeks.

Pong has already lost a good portion of his holiday. (Some Southeast Asian workers in Kuwait only get holidays every two or more years.)


Since the Siege of Bangkok’s two airports began one-week ago over 100,000 people have been stranded in Thailand alone.

This evening (November 30) here in Kuwait, I called Pong’s cell-phone and learned that Thai Airways has been able to have him placed on a Qatar Airways flight to the Philippines for December 3—arriving nearly a full-week after the original departure day (i.e. December 5).

Meanwhile, wealthier Kuwaitis and American travelers have been transferred and been brought out of Bangkok on special Kuwait Airlines (and other countries’ national and private airlines) flights in the past few days. Meanwhile, travelers from countries, such as the Philippines have often had no such means of getting their landsmen back home in a timely manner.

Similarly, thousands of Muslim Filipinos and other South Asians who have been intending to come to undertake the Hajj in the Gulf this 2008 (scheduled for next week) are also feeling abandoned by the authorities in Bangkok.

This is because many officials in Bangkok have not been fully willing to retake their airport from the well-funded Thai protestors, who appear to have no other goal than to topple the present government—despite the fact that the government(however-corrupt) was legally elected twice in recent years by popular vote, the last-time less than a year ago.


Imagine if, in America, some political forces were to take-over a pair of U.S. airports and declare they are doing so in the name of the peoples who live in the largest cities, i.e. those who have traditionally ran the country!

This is the audaciousness these 3000-plus protesters of Thailand as they appear to the world while they continue a somewhat unpopular siege of the main national and main international airports now in November and December 2008.

The peoples of most of Thailand, i.e. outside of Bangkok, as well as travelers and investors from around the world today ask the King of Thailand to speak out and end this nonsense before his birthday this next week, December 5, 2008.

Consider poor travelers and citizens throughout Thailand and in South Asia. Consider the billions of dollars being lost each week due to trade endangered by fanatics who have no real political agenda but to topple things and government—i.e. not to build society.

These protesters are not revolutionaries with a vision; they are just revolutionaries of terror and anger—men and women without plans for how to build a better Thai society.

Finally, give Pinoy Pong and others in Southeast Asian an opportunity to enjoy the holiday Season--as your supporters are doing this December.

NOTE: The author has traveled in or through Thailand regularly since December 1992.


Bowman, Dylan, “Gulf May Ban Filipino Laborers,”

Clarence Henderson Consulting, “Leaving on a Jet Plane, Expatriate Filipino Workers”,

“More Maids Facing Abuse”,



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