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DJs Downplay Thai Civil War Threat - Skrufff News

Reported by Tristan Ingram on April 22, 2009

New American Media editor Andrew Lam suggested Thailand could be ‘on the brink of Civil War’ this week after soldiers fired on protestors demonstrating in the heart of Bangkok.

The latest street violence prompted Britain’s Foreign Office to issue a fresh travel warning urging Brits to ‘consider carefully their travel plans’.

“Civil unrest occurred in Bangkok and the seaside resort of Pattaya in the period 11-14 April. There were violent clashes between red-shirted protestors, ordinary Thai citizens and the security forces, leading to two deaths and some 130 injured,” the Foreign Office noted.

“There remains a substantial military presence on the streets of Bangkok.  Although law and order appears to have been restored, the situation remains volatile and unpredictable.  A further outbreak of violence cannot be ruled out,” they cautioned.

Writing on Twitter, Judge Jules admitted being ‘more than a little concerned about the still simmering security situation’ as he flew into Thailand this week to play a party in Koh Samui though told Skrufff he never seriously considered cancelling his gig.

“We were only transiting through Bangkok Airport, which wasn't affected, but clearly we were very concerned in the run-up to the trip,” said Jules.

“There are two English language-based Thai newspaper websites, and I checked them on an almost hourly basis in the days leading up to our flight up from Sydney. I've never looked at the Foreign Office website before, but checked it this time, plus the Australian equivalent.  Because we weren't entering Bangkok itself, I thought we should just take our chances.”

In the event the greatest dangers Jules faced were a ‘hunter spider, a massive cockroach and a huge beetle in our bathroom’, the Radio 1 star later revealed (also on Twitter).

Expat Koh Phangan resident DJ Graham Gold also passed through Bangkok twice this week though told Skrufff he’d been largely unaware of the political crisis unfolding.

“I’ve just been told how bad the demonstrations looked on the news, but that’s the Western media for you,” the ex Kiss FM legend told Skrufff. “There certainly higher levels of security at the airport, but most of the solders were asleep when I came past their checkpoint in a cab. No-one was being stopped,”

“Other than seeing a few groups of 10 to15 soldiers very sporadically placed, you would have no idea anything was going on,” he said.

Graham also said he’s unaware of Thai people’s political persuasions generally saying ‘you would have no idea, particularly living on an island (Koh Phangan). It’s not the same as say Northern Ireland where the difference between Catholics and Protestants is very noticeable in parts of Belfast, for instance.”

He also stressed he has no plans to leave (‘not unless the Thai Government decides to throw out all Westerners, but that won’t happen, they need the money’) and said he’s more concerned with day-to-day issues than political unrest.

“The British pound currently buys around 50 baht, down from 72 baht eighteen months ago,” he complained, “Plus we just had the wettest Full Moon ever. It chucked it down all day and night, and this is the height of our summer when it’s supposed to be dry. So global warming is happening everywhere.”

“And whilst a recent poll said 34% of Thais were not looking forward to (national holiday) Songkran, I played great parties at Jumunjy on Koh Phangan on the 13th and an excellent Songkran Music festival on Koh Samui-Judge Jules headlined-on the 14th.  So it's still rosy on the islands-and the weather just got better too!” said Graham.

New American Media editor Andrew Lam, however, was decidedly less optimistic.

“As conflicts between two political groups threaten to tear Thailand apart . . .unending strife between the yellow and red shirts . . . could unravel the kingdom, forcing its citizens to choose sides,” he concluded.

“Once the envy of its neighbors – Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Cambodia and
Malaysia, which suffered under colonial rules – Thailand alone in Southeast
Asia developed independently and in peace. But the tourist Mecca of
Southeast Asia has lately shown its grimmer side, one that it can no longer keep under wraps,” he suggested. (Alternet News) (‘Is Thailand on the brink of a civil war?)

Jonty Skrufff (