Armed paramilitary takeover of Bangkok's international airport parking last week | Bangkok Post: learning

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Armed paramilitary takeover of Bangkok's international airport parking last week

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The details behind last week's takeover of the parking lots of Bangkok's international airport remain shrouded in mystery. 

An "airport parking probe" to find out who sent the "men in black" and why is now underway (Read today's article).

A timeline for the airport parking conflict is included on the right.

Click button to listen to Men in Black and rightclick to download

Bangkok Post EDITORIAL 6/10/2010 : Men in black at the airport

airport parking conflict timelimeThe startling sight of an arbitrary takeover of part of the country's primary airport last week demands much more explanation. It appears that the 200 "men in black" who seized a parking facility at Suvarnabhumi Airport were pawns in a big-business deal. It is hard to imagine how airport patrons must have felt when this military or paramilitary force descended on the parking lot. It is more difficult to discern why there has been no reaction. The country's primary airport was partially seized by a large force of armed men. Bangkok is under a state of emergency, yet officials charged with protection failed to respond to the blatant threat to public safety.

"Men in black" has taken on a certain, sinister meaning since the violence of April and May. It is why last Friday's intrusion into airport facilities by 200 armed men in black is more disturbing.

Members of the public who were on the scene were almost certainly frightened beyond the normal shock of seeing a group of uniformed and armed men. Someone may think that black uniforms are intimidating. In the Thailand of post-May 19, that is right; they are more scary than ever.

The takeover of the parking lot apparently began at 4am last Friday, just as Suvarnabhumi was getting started for another busy day.

According to witnesses, the armed men in black blocked entrances and exits. They seized the ticket booths, chasing out the no-doubt terrified cashiers. They then proceeded to extort the parking fees from cars leaving the area. There were no reports of actual violence during the roughly one hour that the armed band - bandits, really - grabbed control of the car park.

During the time of this act of piracy at gunpoint, no notice was given to the public. The airport authorities carried on as if there was no threat - and by luck, there were no reports of violence inside the terminal or near the airplanes.

Airport security gave no response to the threat. The Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation not only brought no resolution to this security emergency; it had no recorded response.

The minister for security and his boss, the prime minister, have made no comment. The armed forces have had no comment on the massive breach of security.

The silence from political leaders and the military may be for a reason.

It is extremely troublesome that the men-in-black seizure of part of the airport is a business dispute that has jumped the shark.

According to this newspaper's reporters, it involves the Bhumjaithai Party, the key supporter of the coalition government, and a "senior army officer". Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum, a Bhumjaithai member, denies this. He also has no explanation for the armed invasion.

The government and its emergency force have been both blind and deaf. They seem to feel that the "business dispute" over a parking contract requires no response. But the frightened public and the highly concerned foreign community not only expect better, they demand it. How 200 armed and uniformed men got inside the airport perimeter is an obvious concern.How they actually evaded all security to enforce their will at gunpoint against employees and the public is a major problem.

The government and security agencies owe the public a full explanation of what happened. It must include assurances that steps have been taken to ensure it never happens again...

(Source: Bangkok Post, EDITORIAL, Men in black at the airport, 6/10/2010, link)

paramilitary - a group that operates like the military or army but is not part of a country's official military (See Wikipedia)
takeover - take or seize control, when a persons takes control of something like a place or company
shrouded in mystery - the details are not know and are very strange and mysterious
men in black - the name given to the mysterious paramilitary with guns and bombs who have been spotted occasionally during red shirt protests (they wore "black shirts")
probe - attempt to find out the truth about an issue or accident made by an official group such as the government or media
underway - a project or other activity has already started, currently being worked on
timeline - a chart showing the dates for an important series of historical events
conflict - an angry disagreement between groups or individuals การต่อสู้

startling - surprising and frightening
arbitrary -
without a good reason, not following any rule
primary - first and most important
demands - needs
facility - a building used for a particular purpose
pawns - the powerless and weak controlled like "pawns" in the game of chess
patrons - customers ผู้อุปการะ, ผู้อุดหนุน
force - a group of armed people (examples: police force, military forces)
parking lot - a place for parking cars
discern - to notice something after thinking carefully about it and studying it
reaction - the way you behave or respond as a result of something that happens ปฏิกิริยาตอบโต้
partially - partly; not completely
armed - carrying a weapon ติดอาวุธ
state - condition สภาพ
emergency - an unexpected situation involving danger in which immediate action is necessary เหตุฉุกเฉิน
State of Emergency (SOE)  -
"a governmental declaration that may suspend certain normal functions of government, alert citizens to alter their normal behaviors, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale for suspending civil liberties. Such declarations usually come during a time of natural disaster, during periods of civil disorder, or following a declaration of war (in democratic countries, many call this martial law, mostly with non-critical intent)." (See Wikipedia)
officials charged with protection - high level government workers (officials) given the duty or responsibility of protecting someone (making sure they are not harmed)
respond - to say or do something as a reaction to something that has been said or done ตอบสนอง, ตอบรับ
blatant - very easy to see (in a bad sort of way, for example: blatant favouritism)
threat - a danger อันตราย

violence - physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people ความรุนแรง
intrusion - when someone goes into a place or situation where they are not wanted or expected to be การบุกรุก, การล่วงล้ำ
facilities - the buildings, equipment and services provided for a particular purpose สิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก
intimidating - makes you afraid, scared and frightened
scary - frightening, creates fear
apparently - based only on what you have heard or think, not on what you are certain is true; seemingly ตามที่ได้รู้มา

witnesses - a person who sees an event happen, usually an accident or crime that they describe, an eyewitness
blocked - stopped, prevented something from happening 
ticket booth - a small covered place at entrance and entrance of parking place to collect money for parking
no-doubt - for sure, certainly
terrified - very frightened ตกใจ, ใจหาย, ขวัญหนี
cashier - a person in a store whose duty is to receive money from customers buying things
extort -
to illegally get money from people using force or threats 
fees - money that you pay to be allowed to do something ค่าธรรมเนียม
actual - real; existing in fact จริง
band - a group of people กลุ่มคน
bandits - a gang of robbers and thieves, a group of people who work is to steal from other people
grab - take with force

piracy - the crime of stealing things from ships when they are sailing (here: creative way of saying "robbery" and "theft")
notice - information or warning หมายเตือ
authorities - government officials, the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
terminal - a large building at an airport where passengers arrive and leave อาคารผู้โดยสารขาเข้าขาออก
security - providing safety from attack, harm or damage ความปลอดภัย
Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) - the government and military organizing with responsibilities for governing during the State of Emergency (SOE)
resolution - solve a problem
comment - to express an opinion say what you think about an issue แสดงความคิดเห็น
massive - very large มหาศาล
breach - a failure to follow a law or rule การละเมิดกฎหมาย
reason - an explanation of an event, why an event happened เหตุ ; เหตุผล ; สาเหตุ
seizure - the act of taking control of something, especially by using power or force การบุกเข้ายึด
dispute - a fight or argument over something  a serious disagreement or conflict over something ข้อโต้แย้ง, การโต้เถียง, ความขัดแย้ง, ข้อพิพาท
jump the shark - "the moment of downturn for a previously successful enterprise. The phrase was originally used to denote the point in a television program's history where the plot spins off into absurd storylines or unlikely characterizations. These changes were often the result of efforts to revive interest in a show whose audience had begun to decline, usually through the employment of different actors, writers or producers" (See Wikipedia)

key - important คนสำคัญ
supporter - a person who believes what you are doing is right, and often helps you by giving money too
coalition - a government formed by two or more political parties working together รัฐบาลหลายพรรค
officer - a high level person in an organisation with special responsibilities (a government officer, a police officer, an army officer)
invasion - an occasion when one country's army goes into another country to take control of it by force การลุกล้ำอาณาบริเวณ
blind - unable to see ตาบอด
deaf - a person without the ability to hear
contract - a formal agreement between two people, a promise to do things
concerned - worried about something มีความกังวล
community - all the people who live in a place or who have something in common (and may know each other)
foreign community - all the people from other countries (foreigners) living in a place
demand -  request, say they need to have it
perimeter - the outside border or boundary, around the outside of something
obvious - easy to see and understand ชัดเจน
concern - a worry ความกังวล
enforce - to make sure laws are obeyed
owe the public Y - really need to give the public Y, it is their responsibility or duty
assurances - promises
ensure - to make certain that something happens or is done รับรอง ให้ความมั่นใจ

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