SINGAPORE — For the past three years, 25-year-old Singaporean Brendan Lee has been travelling to Bangkok three to four times a year, and the news of a shooting at the city’s popular Siam Paragon mall is not going to stop him from continuing to make regular visits to one of his favourite cities.
“My love for Thailand is too strong to deter me, and I do have Thai friends in Bangkok and would love to still visit them,” the content creator said. “I’m sure the security will be tightened after this incident.”
Mr Lee was one of seven Singaporeans who either live in Bangkok or go there frequently who spoke to TODAY after the shootings made headlines around the world on Tuesday (Oct 3), and all of them agreed that the incident has not changed their view of Bangkok as a safe city.
Siam Paragon is one of the most popular malls in Bangkok, a city that has long been a favourite destination among Singaporeans who love Thailand’s capital for its shopping and food scene.
There are more than 20 flights from Singapore to Bangkok daily.
A 14-year-old suspected gunman has been arrested for the shooting, which killed two women and injured five people.
Many of the travellers and Bangkok residents interviewed by TODAY said that they had received messages and calls very soon after the shooting hit the news.
Among them was Mr Royce Tan, a 30-year-old business owner from Singapore, who runs a facial spa business with two shops in Bangkok, one of which is inside the city’s National Stadium BTS train station, about five minutes away from the mall where the shooting took place.
“Thailand is a very safe place as long as you’re a normal tourist. There might be tourist traps and scams but rarely would there be any real danger,” Mr Tan said.
Singaporean tourist Ahmad Hafiz Ibrahim, who was near the Siam BTS station when the incident occurred on Tuesday, described the scene he saw, of massive crowds running into the station, as “surreal”.
He returned home from his trip on Wednesday.
“We read it on the news, of incidents like this happening, but never expect to experience it firsthand,” he said.
Still, he added that it would not deter him from returning to Bangkok, though he would be “more mindful of things around” him in future.
He added: “I love Bangkok because I feel at peace and comfortable there. It’s like my second home. The people, the vibes, everything.”
The shooting, coming just eight months after she relocated to Bangkok in February this year, was of course concerning to Ms Candy Tan, a 32-year-old marketing manager.
While she plans to be more vigilant and careful in crowded areas, she has no intention of packing up and returning to Singapore anytime soon just because of this incident.
“It doesn’t put a halt on our daily life, especially since the suspect has been arrested.”
The quick arrest of the suspect was also a relief to Ms Lau Hui Ying, 34, who works as a sales manager in Bangkok and is a mother of two.
She first heard the news from her oldest daughter’s schoolteacher, who sent a message to a parents’ chat group on the phone to check that families were safe at home.
Ms Lau also assured her own worried parents back in Singapore that her family was not affected, and told TODAY that she still firmly believes Bangkok is a safe and peaceful place overall, noting that shootings in the country are a rare occurrence.
Similarly, Mr Gary Ng, a 35-year old business owner who has lived in Bangkok for six years, described the shooting as a “freak event”.
“Life still goes on as Siam Paragon opened its doors for business as usual today. I think moving forward, the malls might take more security precautions to ensure the safety of their shoppers and staff,” he said.
Ms Anne Cheng, who has lived in Bangkok for three years, hopes that the incident will not taint Thailand’s reputation, as the country relies heavily on tourism for its economy.
The 41-year-old chief executive officer of a consulting firm told TODAY: “Most Bangkok residents I have spoken to feel that it is regrettable that this has happened and are praying that nobody overreacts to the situation.”