Brutality in the east


I love the Thais. They are among the friendliest people you can hope to meet in this sad old world. Their country is surrounded by some of the best sailing waters I’ve ever seen and the food is simply the best.

Of course the exotic Siam has long gone and the louch Thailand of today which caters for long-haul stag nights where legions of Wayne Rooney lookalikes stalk androgynous creatures, is all part of the fun, but a dark side to the Buddhist free-for-all has appeared.

The Thai military are forcing Muslim migrant workers at gunpoint onto leaky old boats and out to an uncertain future on the open sea. Many have drowned.

What has happened to the tolerant Thais, who, for decades, have turned a blind eye to massive camps on their northern borders where Laotian, and Cambodian refugees have lived and worked?

Perhaps, because these new migrants follow Mohammad, the Thais fear the growth of Islamic fundamentalism within their borders. They are still feeling the shockwaves of the Bali bomb which targetted holidaymakers in nearby Indonesia. And let’s face it, soft targets like the decadent night life of Bangkok and the sex tourism of many coastal resorts which earns buckets for the Thai economy are tailor made for jihad, in the minds of those who fear western-style hedonism.

But driving Muslims into the sea is more likely to ‘justify’ waistcoats of dynamite than not.