DANIEL ZAND WRITES- Thailand is known for its delicious street foods at cheap prices, yet this is changing. Food vendors have been forced to relocate to designated areas due to a government ban attempting to“return order to the capital city”.
The ban was established shortly after the Thai military coup in 2014 that ousted democratically chosen Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Between 2012 and 2014, when the coup came, she served as the nation’s first female PM. Her government was well-admired in Asia.
The bizarre ban was part of the government’s attempt to return hygiene and “order” to the city (street food was considered dirty). The problem of bugs coming in contact with food and lack of information on the age of food items in the carts created a big public health question. Tourists were told to be cautious and not to eat at these food carts.
The main area of concern is Sukhumvit 55 road, known for its trendy nightlife, attracting both tourists and locals to community shopping centers, bars and restaurants. Many people were used to having everyday meals there (as often the area restaurants are too expensive for them). Located in the northern Watthana district, this nifty neighborhood, with both low- and high-priced foods, had long been considered the hippest district in Bangkok. Now, though, only fine dining, bars, and cafes remain, and workers at these businesses cannot afford to eat at these locations.
A study predicts that by the end of this year, most of Bangkok’s street food vendors will disappear. Many families will be without work and only costlier food options will be available.
This law is changing Thailand as we know it – but is the former Siam really faring for the better? The suppression of the Bangkok street vendors offers additional serious food for thought.