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international news _ 25th September, 2006

Clubbers Sent Home In Bangkok Coup

Text by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)

Armed soldiers forced clubs and bars in Bangkok to shut early this week, as Thailand’s military staged a coup ousting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Tanks took up positions at key crossroads and outside government offices as the army declared martial law, prohibiting public gatherings of more than five people and suspending normal laws.

Skrufff man-in-Bangkok Bee Futon said soldiers had entered nightspots and ‘advised’ them to close last Monday night, telling clubbers to return to their homes.

“Gene Futon was hosting a party in Bangkok's Cafe De Moc when the owner was advised to shut up shop,” said Bee. “On the way home he passed through several roads-blocks, though said the soldiers were very polite and not at all threatening.”

“A national holiday was declared and all banks and schools were closed on Wednesday but it was business as usual during the day in Bangkok’s many department stores- I even managed to get my hair done at Toni & Guy with armed soldiers a few blocks away,” Bee chuckled.

“Many bars remain closed as well but overall everything is very safe and stable here at the moment. Don’t even think about cancelling a trip if you plan on coming over, it’s fine,” he advised.

A leading Bangkok club promoter broadly backed Bee’s analysis, telling Skrufff, ‘there seems to be an unreal serenity in the city, people are going about their normal lives, even department stores are open,’ though cautiously insisted on remaining anonymous.

“The town will stay quiet in the next few days, or at least for another two weeks, which is the time frame in which the current power says a new PM is nominated.” he predicted.

“Though there is no imminent danger, or even a sense of it, in Bangkok currently, I think people are not in the mood to be partying till this issue is settled,” he continued.

“The guests in the hotels are all pretty cool about it all, and there certainly isn't any sort of panic and flights in and out of Bangkok are all running normally. The food stalls are selling their delicious snacks as normal, and some people are even giving ice-cream to the troops outside Government house. It is a most peaceful coup.”

The US State Department, however, issued a travel alert warning Americans to check with airlines in advance while the British Foreign Office initially urged Brits in Bangkok to ‘stay put and avoid moving around the city’ later amended to ‘you should use discretion when traveling around the city and refrain from approaching military vehicles and personnel.’

“There is a high threat from terrorism throughout Thailand. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against places frequented by foreigners,” the British Embassy also warn, “The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Thailand is for arrests (mostly drug related); hospital cases (especially road accidents); and deaths, mostly from natural causes and road accidents,” the Embassy website says.