TIME Malaysia

Huge Antigovernment Protests in Malaysia Continue for a Second Day

The demonstration is the largest popular vote of no confidence to date against beleaguered Prime Minister Najib Razak

Saturday’s massive but harmonious antigovernment demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur continued overnight and into Sunday morning as historic numbers of Malaysians gathered in the streets of the capital to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“It’s what we need to do for the Prime Minister to hear our voices and realize we don’t need him anymore,” Abdul Muiz, a 26-year-old businessman in a plastic Guy Fawkes mask, told TIME early Sunday. “I think it’ll stay peaceful — the object is peaceful revolt, since we’re a peaceful nation.”

The marathon rally is expected to last until midnight on Sunday, which will mark the beginning of Merdeka Day, the anniversary of Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957.

By noon on Sunday, the crowd had swelled to rival Saturday’s, which drew 200,000 by organizer’s estimates and 20,000 by police’s. A number of protesters stayed in the streets near Merdeka Square overnight, sleeping on the pavement when tired.

The ongoing demonstration is the largest popular vote of no confidence to date against beleaguered Prime Minister Najib, who currently sits at the center of an unprecedented corruption scandal. In early July, the Wall Street Journal published a report stating that Najib’s personal bank accounts held around $700 million in cash that may have been siphoned off a struggling state investment fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Najib’s administration has denied the allegations — and penalized those who have corroborated them, including his Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, whom he sacked last month — claiming that the money was in fact a campaign donation from a benefactor in the Middle East. (A protester at Saturday’s demonstration could be seen dressed up as the elusive donor, donning an Arab-style tunic and holding a sign asking for his money back).

Nevertheless, the incident has provided disgruntled Malaysians with a reason to galvanize in opposition to the government. Many feel that the country is in rough shape economically and socially. The value of the ringgit, its currency, has tumbled; meanwhile, some sense that Najib is attempting to cling to power by emphasizing the ethnic divide between Malays and the country’s Chinese and Indian populations.

This confluence of tensions has driven tens if not hundreds of thousands of middle-class Malaysians into the streets for this weekend’s protests, which in the past have been the preserve of workers and student activists.

“This is my first Bersih rally. I’m politically conscious but apolitical — but these are national issues that impact all of us,” Syed Kabir, a 42-year-old engineer, tells TIME, sitting in a South Indian restaurant off Jalan Tun Perak, a major thoroughfare congested with yellow-shirted demonstrators. He identified as an ethnic Malay; his neighbors, Dr. Shanil Kumar and Michael Cheng, who sat with him at the table, were Indian and Chinese, respectively.

“This is how it was, and this is why we’re angry,” says Kumar, a general practitioner in Kuala Lumpur. “Malaysia is literally the perfect country — we have resources; we have a good ethnic balance — and it’s been completely spoiled by corruption and money politics. And we’re finally tired of it.”

The men say they expect to stay at the demonstration through midnight, and that they do not expect any violence or altercations with authorities. Though past public protests have ended when law enforcement brought out tear gas and water cannons, the police presence this weekend has been subdued.

“The police have learned that using force won’t fix the situation, but rather aggravate the issue at hand,” Syed says. “Violence would make the government seem worse than they already do.”

Others speculate that the police could in fact be sympathetic to the cause.

“I picked up one of the police [officers],” a Kuala Lumpur cab driver who requests anonymity tells TIME. “He said, ‘We all know [Najib] is in the wrong, but what can we do? We’re only following instructions and waiting until we can retire.’”

TIME Malaysia

Malaysians Gather Peacefully to Demand a New Politics

MALAYSIA-POLITICS-NAJIB-DEMONSTRATION
Manan Vatsyayana—AFP/Getty Images Protesters gather near Merdeka Square during an antigovernment rally in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 29, 2015

The historic rally in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday drew tens of thousands, but saw no violence

Tens of thousands of Malaysians assembled near Kuala Lumpur’s Merdeka Square on Saturday to demand that Prime Minister Najib Razak step down from office.

The rally, one of the largest demonstrations against Malaysia’s government in recent memory, was the culmination of escalating public hostility toward Najib, especially after the Wall Street Journal reported that his private bank accounts held over $700 million in funds purportedly siphoned off a struggling state investment fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad. Officials say the money came from private donors to be spent on the last general elections in 2013.

But, on Saturday, the call of the day — and the name of the anticorruption movement that organized it — was bersih, which means clean in Malay.

“Today, this matter is uniting the voice of the people of Malaysia, regardless of race, religion, age, or even politics,” Lim Kit Siang, head of Malaysia’s opposition coalition, told TIME. He stood next to Mohamad Sabu, who leads the country’s new, moderate Islamic party. “We all want to save Malaysia — to promote good governance, to reaffirm the promise of democracy.

Though the government declared the demonstration unlawful, going so far as to criminalize the antigovernment’s yellow T-shirts, a historically large crowd gathered in the streets of Kuala Lumpur City Centre by early afternoon on Saturday, appearing from afar as a sea of neon.

“We’ve curbed our fear of the state, it seems,” K. Arumugam, a human-rights lawyer in the capital, said about the public’s dismissal of state warnings. “People are aware that they need to stand up.

Unlike past demonstrations against Najib’s leadership, which have typically been the domain of student activists, laborers, and the politicians who support them, Saturday’s rally was in many respects a sociopolitical cross section of Malaysia at large. Families came out in droves. White-collar executives were said to have booked rooms at five-star hotels near Merdeka Square as to be close to the political action, which organizers intended to continue through Sunday night.

The turnout spoke to the endemic national frustration with what is seen as equally endemic political corruption. The recent accusations of malfeasance first levied in the Wall Street Journal last month — which Najib has denied, even sacking his Deputy Prime Minister for encouraging transparency in the matter — are only the latest development in a sociopolitical system marked by ethnic tension and economic languor.

“It’s supposed to be that the government works for us, not that we work for the government,” Jasmine Sim, a 30-year-old interior designer, tells TIME. “People are feeling the pinch of living in Malaysia. Our standard of living is worse and more expensive. Our society is built on old racial lines.

Though the historical underpinnings of the current situation are complex, many Malaysians equate contemporary struggles with the leadership of Najib, who took office in 2009 and was returned in 2013 despite losing the popular vote in that election. (Malaysia’s Parliament operates under a “first past the post” voting system.)

“He promised transparency, he said he’d take away draconian laws … and people bought into that, until 2010, 2011, when people realized what he was saying and what he was doing were completely different,” Wong Chen, a Member of Parliament representing the opposition coalition, tells TIME as he travels to the demonstration.

The amplification of popular dissent in recent months had led some to anticipate violence at this weekend’s demonstration. But unlike past rallies, which have ended when the police used tear gas and water cannons, the atmosphere near Merdeka Square on Saturday was urgent but largely festive. Protesters tooted loudly on air horns. A group of students sang Dylanesque protest songs in Malay, interspersed with a few chords of Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ ’Bout a Revolution.”

One protester, standing near a stage where opposition leaders led the crowd in anti-Najib chants, raised a sign that said “Najib: Today Is My Birthday. Please Resign as a Gift to Me.”

Read next: Police Arrest Foreigner in Bangkok Shrine Bombing

TIME Malaysia

Large Crowds Are Gathering to Demand the Ouster of Malaysia’s Prime Minister

Hostility towards the beleaguered Najib Razak is heightening as a massive financial corruption scandal comes to light

Thousands of protesters are expected to take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur and other Malaysian cities on Saturday to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Popular discontent with Najib’s leadership has rapidly escalated since early last month, when an exposé in The Wall Street Journal revealed that his private bank accounts held over $700 million in funds purportedly siphoned off a struggling state investment fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Najib has firmly denied malfeasance and penalized those who have alleged it. He has threatened to sue the Journal for libel; more controversially, he sacked his deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, in a cabinet reshuffle in late July after Muhyiddin called for transparency in the matter.

Today’s planned rally, which the authorities have deemed unlawful, is the latest exercise in political discontent within this once-promising Southeast Asian state. The engine of this discontent is an unofficial pro-democracy, anti-corruption coalition called Bersih, which in Malay simply means “clean.” Though the recent allegations of corruption have galvanized the demands for Najib’s removal from power, many Malaysians see the scandal simply as one visceral incident within an endemically broken system.

“He’s dropped the economy,” a taxi driver in Kuala Lumpur tells TIME. “Everyone is very scared.”

“It’s very simple: the Malaysian people are suffering right now,” Ravin Kabhi, a Malaysian man who recently moved to Australia, said. “Look at our currency at the moment — it’s 4.2 to the dollar. I’m a recent graduate, and there are no jobs, because multinational corporations don’t want to spend money in periods of instability.”

Malaysia has long sought to fashion its global image as a crucible of progressive politics and economic stability in Southeast Asia, and for many years, the portrait was compelling. Regular elections offered a facsimile of democracy. The construction of the Petronas Towers in 1998 — the tallest skyscrapers in the world until Taipei 101 opened in Taiwan six years later — provided an internationally recognizable emblem of the country’s capitalist triumph during the last two decades of the twentieth century.

The controversies that have surrounded Najib’s leadership since his narrow election in 2009 have exposed the weaknesses in this narrative. Najib leads the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the right-wing Malay nationalist party that heads the incumbent National Front coalition and derives most of its support from ethnic Malays who benefit from its policies. In September 2013, Najib’s government fortified longstanding laws that reserve education benefits, government jobs, and entrepreneurship opportunities for the ethnic Malay population.

“I support their right to do this, to protest,” ethnic Malay student Ziela Rahim said, gesturing to the yellow-shirted protesters who loitered beneath the metro tracks above Jalan Tun Perak. “But [Najib] is my prime minister, and so I think he has the right to do what he feels is right for us.”

But those same pro-Malay policies, political and economic experts contend, have encouraged hostility and also weakened the economy, because they have encouraged Malaysia’s marginalized Chinese and Indian populations to seek better opportunities elsewhere.

Najib has also become increasingly strident in his dismissal of the growing opposition, even as ethnic Malays — the bulwark to his political legitimacy — join its ranks. On Saturday morning, the state held a full dress rehearsal for the country’s independence day celebration on August 31. The practice, held in the same public square where the anti-Najib protesters are to gather later in the day, was one of pomp and circumstance: military marching bands played the national anthem, which was amplified over loudspeakers; organized civilians in red t-shirts marched in lockstep, holding small Malaysian flags; military jets roared overhead.

Outside of Merdeka Square, some members of the opposition, dressed in Bersih’s yellow shirts, had started to gather in anticipation.

“Whether or not [today] has an effect on the political process isn’t important. It’s my duty — our duty — to align with the cause,” Lui Tuck, a 45-year-old factory manager from Kuala Lumpur, said. “The current government is disgusting. You want to tell lies, tell proper lies. If you want to take our money, take our money, but at least tell convincing lies that let us sleep at night.”

TIME California

California’s Crop Revenues Are Booming in Spite of the Drought

Gold-Rush Water Rights Pit Farmers Against State in Epic Drought
Bloomberg/Getty Images Workers arrange peppers as they harvested peppers on to a truck at the Uesugi Farm in Byron, California, U.S., on Thursday, July 16, 2015.

It's also employing more people than it ever has

The worst drought in at least 120 years has seemingly failed to hamper California’s agricultural sector, which drew in more than $33 billion in crop revenue in 2014: the second-highest ever recorded in the state. The highest — $480 million more — came the year before. The industry employed 417,000 people last year, the state’s largest agricultural workforce on record.

This information is presented in a new study out of the Pacific Institute, an environmental think tank in Oakland, which delivered the positive news with a caveat. The study partly attributes the record profits to a shift toward “higher value” crops — almonds, pistachios, wine grapes — but also to “unsustainable” methods of groundwater pumping, which could further worsen the increasingly arid earth in the state.

“One of the reasons that agricultural revenues and employment are as strong as they are is because of groundwater overdraft,” Heather Cooley, the lead author of the study, told the Desert Sun. “It can help insulate the agricultural sector from some of the short-term impacts, but it does create impacts and costs that are borne by others, both in current and future generations.”

On whole, California’s farms rely on groundwater for about 40% of all water used for irrigation, though the study is also careful to address discrepancies between regions across the state. Ten mostly coastal counties draw 90% of their irrigation water from the ground.

The same principle of variation applied to employment in 2014. Particularly infertile areas, like the San Joaquin Valley (whose poverty and unemployment levels have earned it the nickname “the Appalachia of the West”), saw the agricultural workforce markedly shrink.

Ultimately, the study’s primary concern is the depletion of California’s groundwater, which has “shifted the burden to others, including current and future generations forced to dig deeper wells, find alternative drinking-water sources, and repair infrastructure damaged by subsidence.”

TIME Books

Terry Pratchett’s Final Novel The Shepherd’s Crown Has Been Published Posthumously

Terry Pratchett Portrait Shoot
SFX Magazine—2013 Future Publishing Portrait of English fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett, photographed to promote the 40th novel in his Discworld series, Raising Steam, on September 18, 2013.

The Shepherd's Crown is the 41st installation in Pratchett's Discworld series

Bookstores across the U.K. and British Commonwealth released Terry Pratchett’s final novel on Wednesday night, five and a half months after the celebrated fantasy writer died of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Shepherd’s Crown is the 41st book in Pratchett’s Discworld series, a collection of fantasy works that rejuvenated the clichés of the genre by infusing them with comedy and an angle of social commentary. The franchise began with Pratchett’s first novel, The Colour of Magic, published in 1983. The Shepherd’s Crown is his last, written throughout his worsening struggle with Alzheimer’s.

“It was a hard book to complete because Terry’s health was declining in the last year,” Rob Wilkins, a friend of the author’s, told the BBC. “But he was still enjoying the writing.”

Many bookstores across the U.K. held midnight launch parties to celebrate the book’s publication. Within hours of its release, a number of Pratchett’s fans took to the Internet to say they had already finished reading it.

TIME People

Marcy Borders, the Dust-Covered Woman in the Iconic 9/11 Photograph, Has Died of Cancer

She wondered if her exposure to the attack contributed to her illness

Marcy Borders, a survivor of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the subject of one of that day’s most iconic photographs, died on Monday of stomach cancer. She was 41.

Her family first announced her death via Facebook early Tuesday morning.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Borders was one month into a new job as a legal assistant on the 81st floor of One World Trade Center. When American Airlines Flight 11 struck the building a few stories above her office, she fled, making it onto the street just as the adjacent tower collapsed. A stranger pulled her into a nearby lobby, where Agence France-Presse photographer Stan Honda took her picture: her face distraught; her body covered in ash. In the weeks and years following 9/11, the world would thusly know her as the “Dust Lady.”

Meanwhile, she found herself haunted by her experiences that morning, ultimately struggling with depression and substance-abuse issues.

“My life spiraled out of control. I didn’t do a day’s work in nearly 10 years, and by 2011 I was a complete mess,” Borders told the New York Post in June 2011. “Every time I saw an aircraft, I panicked. If I saw a man on a building, I was convinced he was going to shoot me.”

She checked herself into rehab in April 2011, eight days before President Obama appeared on television to announce the death of Osama bin Laden.

“The treatment got me sober, but bin Laden being killed was a bonus,” she told the Post. “I used to lose sleep over him, have bad dreams about bin Laden bombing my house, but now I have peace of mind.”

Borders was diagnosed with cancer last August. Speaking with the Jersey Journal a few months after her diagnosis, she ventured that her exposure to the pollutants emitted by the collapse of the World Trade Center may have contributed to her illness.

“I definitely believe it because I haven’t had any illnesses,” she said.

Read next: What We Can Learn From Behind-the-Scenes Photos of Dick Cheney on 9/11

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME animals

The National Zoo’s Giant Panda Mei Xiang Is Ignoring the Smaller of Her New Cubs

Twins are often overwhelming to panda mothers

Mei Xiang, the female giant panda at Washington’s National Zoo, has been devoting her maternal attention to the larger of the twin cubs she gave birth to over the weekend, jeopardizing the health of the smaller cub.

Since Monday afternoon, the 17-year-old bear has dismissed zookeepers’ attempts to switch the two cubs for nursing. Staff have relied on bottles and tube-feeding to sustain the smaller cub, whose weight is fluctuating, ABC News reports.

Twins are often overwhelming to panda mothers, and on Tuesday the National Zoo tweeted that it was still a “high-risk time” for the young cubs. The zoo said that it would keep attempting to switch out the two.

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Market Fitfully Recovers but Plenty of Nerves Remain

Experts worry that Hong Kong's close economic links to China mean it is in for a rough ride

Tomy Kwan, a 44-year-old trader at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, came back from lunch on Tuesday happy, or at least calmer than he had been. The Hang Seng Index had plummeted 5.2% on Monday, bringing the market to its weakest point, by one measure, since the crash of 1987, but within an hour of opening on Tuesday it had soared more than 700 points. By the midday break, things had cooled but were still looking up, bringing a cautious optimism to an anxious trading floor.

“I made some money this morning,” Kwan said outside the doors to One Exchange Square in Hong Kong’s Central district. “I lost a lot of money yesterday, and last week, but I’ve made some back today. We’ll see.”

But by 3 p.m., the Hang Seng Index — the standard barometer of Hong Kong’s market performance — went south again, falling nearly 500 points, or down 1.04% from the opening bell. A sudden spurt of second wind at the end of the day pulled the index ahead, allowing it to close around three-quarters of a percentage point up, but traders left the floor on Tuesday afternoon looking somewhat dazed, blinking as they stepped into the smoggy sunlight.

Hong Kong is not alone in its volatility. The ongoing stock sell-off in mainland China has flamed panic in markets across the world. “Black Monday,” as the Chinese state media (in a rare moment of honest self-appraisal) called yesterday’s rout, encouraged the biggest sell-off in U.S. and European markets since 2011. As things got worse on Tuesday — by close, the indices in Shanghai and Shenzhen had fallen 7.6% and 7.1%, respectively — the rest of Asia followed suit, with India’s Sensex and the Nikkei in Japan both taking a tumble immediately after lunch.

However, while the markets of New York City and Tokyo are liable to recover, some experts worry that Hong Kong could be along for China’s downward ride. The political turmoil in this island city last autumn demonstrated that many Hong Kongers hold themselves proudly detached from the political and cultural influence of mainland China, but the ties between them, at least in economic terms, may be too tight to ignore.

“The closeness of Hong Kong market means that it moves more or less with the Chinese market,” Bernard Aw, a market analyst with IG Group in Singapore, tells TIME. “If you look at the Hang Seng market, 20% of it is Chinese companies incorporated in China that are listed in Hong Kong.”

In recent years, Aw says, China has used Hong Kong as a pawn in its efforts to open the country’s markets to foreign investment. Investing in Hong Kong, a bastion of free-market capitalism on the southern cusp of this self-proclaimed communist country, is easy, and therefore Chinese companies listed on the Hong Kong markets — comprising half of the overall market here — can avail themselves of foreign money. The Shanghai and Shenzhen markets draw domestic investment; Hong Kong bolsters that with investments from overseas.

In short, Hong Kong’s stock markets have subjected themselves to the dual currents of Chinese and global market trends. The apogee of its surge earlier this year — reaching its highest value since January 2008 — echoed the bullish run of China’s markets, which were also booming. Since June, when investors began to realize that the Chinese bubble was just that, Hong Kong’s markets have suffered accordingly.

“If we’re looking at a farther horizon — 12 to 24 months — there’s a chance for both markets to recover,” Aw says. “But in the near term, I see the trend heading south.”

TIME Cambodia

Ieng Thirith, ‘First Lady’ of the Khmer Rouge, Dies at 83

Ieng Thirith, social affairs minister under Khmer Rouge regime, sits during her pre-trial chamber public hearing at Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia
Reuters Ieng Thirith, Social Affairs Minister under the Khmer Rouge regime, sits in the dock during her pretrial chamber public hearing at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh on Feb. 24, 2009

She was the only woman to hold a senior position within the genocidal regime

Ieng Thirith, the senior Khmer Rouge official hailed as the genocidal regime’s “First Lady,” died on Saturday in her home province near the Thai border.

Though her cause of death was not made public, Ieng Thirith, who was 83, had for many years suffered from progressive dementia. In 2011, her illness prompted a U.N.-backed tribunal to deem her unfit to stand trial for her role in the genocide.

The decision was controversial. From 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge butchered at least 1.7 million Cambodians, or around a quarter of the country’s population, in the interest of creating what party literature called an “agrarian utopia.” The massacre, spearheaded by Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, was widespread to the point of seeming aimless. Speaking a foreign language or wearing eyeglasses — apparent markers of subversive intellectualism — could warrant one’s death. Those who were spared immediate execution were forced to leave their cities and towns and work under slavelike conditions at rural labor camps, where disease, malnutrition and death were rampant.

Ieng Thirith, who served as the regime’s Minister of Social Affairs, had a comfortable place within Pol Pot’s inner circle. Her husband, Ieng Sary, was Pol Pot’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; her sister, Khieu Ponnary, was married to Brother No. 1 himself. The four belonged to — and ultimately led — the group of Paris-educated Cambodian Marxists who spearheaded the anti-imperial communist cause in Cambodia, seizing power in April 1975.

Ieng Thirith was the only woman to hold a senior Cabinet position in Pol Pot’s government. Because her sister allegedly suffered from mental-health issues, she would often stand by the Prime Minister’s side as a proxy for the First Lady at state events.

“Like many others of Cambodia’s ruling class, she presented herself as progressive but in fact was profoundly conservative and feudal in her behavior and lifestyle,” Ong Thong Hoeung, a Cambodian émigré who has testified in the war crimes tribunal, told the Cambodia Daily on Sunday. “She behaved like a queen during the Khmer Rouge regime.”

For many years following the genocide, Ieng Thirith and her husband lived comfortably in Phnom Penh under an amnesty agreement with the Cambodian government. In November 2007, however, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (as the Khmer Rouge tribunal is officially known) charged her with, among other things, crimes against humanity and homicide.

She was among the handful of top Khmer Rouge officials to ultimately avoid prosecution. Her husband died in 2013 before the court could reach a verdict in his case. Pol Pot died under dubious circumstances in 1998, having never served time in prison for his political activity.

TIME Thailand

Thailand Blames Troubled Bombing Inquiry on Lack of ‘Modern Equipment’

People ride their motorcycles past a digital billboard showing a sketch of the main suspect in Monday's attack on Erawan shrine, in Bangkok, Thailand
Chaiwat Subprasom—Reuters People ride their motorcycles past a digital billboard showing a sketch of the main suspect in the Aug. 17 attack on Erawan shrine in Bangkok on Aug. 23, 2015

"I have to say we need some luck," says Thai police chief

Authorities presiding over the investigation into last week’s Bangkok bombing have publicly acknowledged for the first time that their pursuit may be a near futile one, conceding that the only plausible suspect — a supposedly foreign young man in a yellow T-shirt captured on CCTV footage placing a backpack at the blast site — “may have already fled” the country.

Officials have so far not pretended to understand the motive or forces behind the attack, which killed 20 tourists and locals at the popular Erawan Shrine in Bangkok’s bustling Ratchaprasong district, or that of the botched bombing of the city’s Sathorn Pier the following day.

“I have to say we need some luck,” Somyot Poompanmoung, commissioner general of the Royal Thai Police, said. “If the police have good fortune, we might be able to make an arrest, but … if the perpetrator has good fortune, maybe they can get away.”

Somyot said that police and military forces had started a citywide sweep of “more than 10,000 places in the Thai capital” in the belief that “some of those involved are still in Thailand.”

He also called for foreign assistance in the ongoing investigation, and said that the dearth of reliable information so far was due to a lack of “modern equipment that supports the work” (specifically, according to the Associated Press, malfunctioning CCTV cameras in central Bangkok).

“There are two dimensions to this situation. One is the authorities’ utter lack of message discipline,” Michael Montesano, a co-coordinator of the Thailand Studies Program at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, wrote in an email to TIME on Monday. “Too many men in uniform are talking too often, typically with nothing to say.

“The second is that, yes, if the bombers really were foreigners and if they made a point of getting out of Thailand fast then there really is the chance that this investigation will lead to no results for a long, long time.”

Meanwhile, Bangkok’s zealous desire to persuade tourists — who sustain around 10% of Thailand’s economy — that normality is returning has aroused some disquiet.

A day after the attack, commercial and tourist activity had resumed tentatively in Ratchaprasong, described by some as Bangkok’s answer to New York City’s Times Square. But within hours of the Erawan Shrine’s reopening to the public last Wednesday, witnesses said that human remains were falling from tree branches overhead. Others ventured that the haste with which authorities cleaned the crime scene may have accidentally compromised valuable evidence in the investigation.

Thai immigration officials have not released information on how the attack has impacted holiday arrivals, though some travelers said they chose to aim on the side of caution.

“We were in Koh Lanta heading for Bangkok, but we rerouted our trip through Tokyo,” Casey Quackenbush, an American tourist, tells TIME. “The first bombing happened on the 17th, and we wanted to wait it out to see what would happen — but by the 21st, not only was there a second one, there was so little progress in the investigation it just wasn’t worth it.”

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