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Funeral shooting adds to Thailand’s trend of politically-motivated violence

Caitlin Ashworth

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Funeral shooting adds to Thailand’s trend of politically-motivated violence | Thaiger
Photo via Facebook/ ยงข่าวร้อน

Last week, a mayoral candidate was shot and killed and 6 others were wounded, including 3 people who were running in local elections and a local kamnan, a government official of a tambon, or sub district. Police say they believe the shooting was politically motivated. Violence related to local politics has been a trend in Thailand over the past few decades.

The gunman, who police suspect is Wanchart Niamraksa, a member of the local provincial administration organisation, opened fire at a temple in Ratchaburi, a province west of Bangkok near the Myanmar border. Witnesses say the gunman fired shots from behind a Buddha image, shooting Yingpan Kanket, the kamnan of tambon Don Sai, was lighting candles and incense sticks to start the funeral. Yingpan is now in critical condition.

Varaporn Niamraksa, who was running for mayor in the March 28 municipal election, was shot and later died at the hospital. Wanchart’s wife was Varaporn’s main competitor in the mayoral election. He’s also Varaporn’s brother-in-law. Wanchart has since surrendered to police.

The gunman shot and wounded 5 others, including 3 who are all running for the municipal council of tambon Don Sai. Police say they plan to charge Wanchart with murder, attempted murder, illegally possessing firearms and ammunition and carrying them in public.

While the story was covered in Thai media, it wasn’t a major headline, according to a Thai reporter. He says there’s been a pattern of politically motivated violence in Thailand. Just this past January, police arrested a man for allegedly planning to kill a local election candidate in the southern province Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Local politics in Thailand were described as “bloody” after the passing of the 1997 Constitution, leading to what the media calls a “decade of decentralisation.”

More than 362 local politicians were murdered between 2000 and 2009, according to date reported by Thai media. There were around 100 other murder attempts on local politicians. Around 73% of the victims who were either killed or wounded were sub district administration organisation representatives. Most were shot.

The majority of cases were in Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla, province’s in Thailand’s deep south near the Malaysian border, plagued with violence for decades due to the religious separatist insurgency.

In recent years, there’s also been a number of reports involving violence among local politicians in Thailand. In 2019, an MP for the Isaan province Khon Kaen was sentenced to death for hiring 2 former police officers to kill the assistant chief of the Khon Kaen provincial administration.

SOURCES: Kyoto Review | Bangkok Post| Chiang Rai Times| Post Today

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 4:07 pm

    It is information like this that compels me to doubt that Thailand could ever be run as a democracy.
    Perhaps they need a despotic leader in charge; you know, like Gibbon monkeys.

  2. Avatar

    Graham White

    Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    Too much corruption money at stake!

  3. Avatar

    Slugger

    Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    Perhaps you just should keep your nose out? Before someone takes a dislike to you?

  4. Avatar

    Comicus

    Monday, March 8, 2021 at 8:25 am

    @Toby Andrews

    Democracy!!! Like in USA?

    If yes, Trump should be voted back in 2024, yes?

  5. Avatar

    Fred glue

    Monday, March 8, 2021 at 11:21 am

    Toby, are you sure you wasn’t on the dick emery show, funny,,😂😂😂

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

Crime

1.1 million baht of gold necklaces stolen in Hat Yai

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1.1 million baht of gold necklaces stolen in Hat Yai | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Police investigate the site of a gold robbery in Hat Yai

An armed and masked man stole gold necklaces valued at 1.1 million baht from a Big C shopping mall in Hat Yai Saturday afternoon. Police are searching now for the suspect and his accomplice who drove a getaway car. The robbery took place at the Yaowarat Bangkok gold shop around 3:30 pm on the upper level of the Khlong Hae branch of the international supermarket chain Big C.

Early police reports indicate that the 2 men involved in the robbery arrive in a bronze-coloured Toyota Vios with the license plates removed. They parked at the mall entrance and one man entered Big C and went to the gold shop. At the time three women and a man were on shift at the gold shop.

The thief pretended to be a customer and requested to look at expensive gold necklaces. The staff opened the case to show him several necklaces when the man lunged across the counter and grabbed a handful of necklaces while pulling out a gun and threatening to shoot the staff members. The necklaces he grabbed were about 682 grammes of gold, worth about 1.1 million baht.

After snatching the gold, the man fled from Big C and jumped into the waiting getaway car. Security guards had attempted to stop the man as he raced out of the mall but the thief aimed his gun at them and threatened them. Songkla Police are reviewing security camera footage now to try to identify the thieves. The video showed the man dressed in camouflage trousers and a camouflage hat, a black jacket, dark glasses and a face mask. No further details have been released yet.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Burmese prisoners granted amnesty on first day of Myanmar’s New Year

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Burmese prisoners granted amnesty on first day of Myanmar’s New Year | Thaiger

Over 23,000 Burmese prisoners and student political activists are enjoying freedom after being released yesterday in an amnesty on the first day of the country’s Lunar New Year celebrations. The state-owned MRTV reported that 23,407 prisoners were released under sections of a penal code. In the Yangon region alone, over 800 prisoners were released, while Mandalay saw around 2,800 released from 5 prisons.

But, with the recent military crackdown on protesters and civilians, the law’s ambiguity may be used against those released. As the law allows for the conditional release of prisoners, that means authorities can re-arrest the prisoners without warrant at any time.

Zayyar Lwin, Paing Ye Thu and Paing Phyo Min were among the released student political activists. The 3 were arrested for writing political Thingyan poems and rhymes. They were arrested under Section 505(a) of the penal code and Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, both of which are regarded by many as draconian tools to oppress dissent.

The junta-led State Administration Council also issued a statement releasing 130 foreign prisoners under the same conditions. There have been 2 other mass releases since the coup. The first was in mid-February, which rights groups feared was a move to free up space for military opponents, and the second on the eve of Armed Forces Day when the regime released around 900 detained demonstrators.

But prisons continue to fill up as more than 3,100 people, mostly anti-coup protesters have been detained. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has been keeping track of detainees as well as injuries and deaths allegedly at the hands of the junta. It is stil unclear, however, if those released yesterday were post-coup detainees.

Meanwhile, the Burmese military leader, Gen Min Aung Hlaing, is expected to attend an ASEAN summit in Jakarta where representatives of the bloc are expected to discuss Myanmar’s situation. Thailand’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tanee Sangrat, made the announcement.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Crime

Immigration police arrest Frenchman on drug charges, 3 other foreigners for overstay

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Immigration police arrest Frenchman on drug charges, 3 other foreigners for overstay | Thaiger

Immigration police arrested a French man who was allegedly involved in a crime network who allegedly smuggled cannabis, and arrested 3 other foreigners on overstay charges. Police say the crime network sold cannabis to foreigners living in tourist cities in Thailand.

Officers say they suspect there are more people involved in the alleged smuggling operation on the Eastern seaboard, which includes Chon Buri and Rayong. Police are now launching an investigation.

Police were tipped off earlier this year about an alleged French gang selling cannabis to tourists. Apparently, the drug suspects would rent rooms to store the cannabis and frequently change locations. Foreigners had rented a room off a soi in Bangkok, but the manager noticed they were acting suspicious. No one appeared to actually be living in the room and people would stop by the room for less than an hour, the manager told police.

Police arrested a man who was stopping by the room. Officers say the 28 year old, identified as Samy, had a suitcase filled with dried cannabis and scales. He faces charges for possession and distribution of a Category 5 narcotic.

The police went to the man’s apartment in the Charoen Nakhon area and arrested 2 French nationals, ages 27 and 28, and a 29 year old woman from the UK for overstaying their visas. Police say they had thrown cannabis and smoking equipment out the window before officers entered the room.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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