Paritta Wangkiat is a Bangkok Post columnist.
I have met political activist Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak twice in my career as a journalist. The first was five years ago when Parit was a precocious high school student at Triam Udom Suksa, a well-known high school in Bangkok. At that time, he had launched a campaign against the Thai education system that teaches students to be submissive.
After struggling for survival on an empty stomach for days, Karen villagers who fled the war atrocities in Myanmar, from an area under the control of the Karen National Union, took shelter along the Salween River. They received some food and medicine, supplied largely by non-profit organisations, temples, Thais, and fellow ethnic people.
Pictures of Karen people, including children and the elderly, crowded on the banks of Myanmar's Salween River while attempting to flee the country as their communities were targeted by air strikes launched by the Tatmadaw, and taking refuge on Thai soil triggered sympathy among many Thais. Criticism has also been deafening over allegations made by human rights groups that Thai authorities pushed back the Karen into the war zone.
Once a bustling business district, Khao San Road looked like a ghost town when I dropped by last week. Most of the shops and restaurants in the area, one of Bangkok's top tourist attractions, were closed. There were no visitors; I saw only a few vendors and passers-by.
Last week, a rally by a group of ultra-royalists in Nakhon Si Thammarat turned ugly after some elements from the crowd attacked a car, which they falsely believed to be carrying the co-founder of the Progressive Movement, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, out of a hotel. This is a sign that violent confrontations will be inevitable.