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Pathum Thani police hunt “100 million baht auntie”

Jack Burton

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Pathum Thani police hunt “100 million baht auntie” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Police in Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok, are tracking down a mysterious loan shark known as “Mrs. Millionaire” to face charges that she hired a man to beat a vendor who owed her money, leaving him with permanent brain damage. The woman, whose age is estimated at around aged 65-70, dresses plainly and carries a large rubbish sack around, which reportedly contains the cash she lends to traders in local markets, including the one outside the Zeer Rangsit IT centre where the March 12 attack occurred.

Despite her modest appearance, she’s been dubbed the “100 million baht auntie” and linked to a gang which employs violence to chase down unpaid debts.

63 year old Weerapat Kampiranon, who’s run a market stall outside Zeer Rangsit with his wife, selling crab fried rice for the past 8 years, complained to Kukot police last week about the assault, which took place as he and his wife were packing up for the day. He had been in a coma for months.

The couple later addressed the media with celebrity lawyer Ronnarong Kaewpetch, who demanded Pathum Thani police explain why loan sharks were able to ply their trade freely around the market, even after the government told them to drive “informal lenders” out of business during the Covid-19 virus epidemic.

Weerapat says he was getting on his motorcycle while his wife went to the toilet when the attack occurred. A man wearing a cap and face mask hit him 4 times over the head with a heavy object, leaving him with internal bleeding and temporary loss of brain function, requiring 2 months’ hospitalisation.

His wife says she heard the sound of her husband being struck and raced out in time to see the attacker, who fled the scene. Pointing to a large caved-in area on the side of his head he told police he can’t remember much about the attack.

“Doctors say I have lost 10% of my brain capacity and the damage is permanent. I had to re-learn how to walk, and still stammer a bit.”

Weerapat’s wife says the past months were gruelling – medical bills for his care came to 100,000 baht, which they raised from relatives.

“He was in critical condition for 4 nights, and I wasn’t sure he’d make it. I was worried about losing the mainstay of my life. It was like bringing up a child. He had to start again.”

Weerapat said “100 million baht auntie” has many customers in the marketplace outside Zeer. He borrowed an initial 60,000 baht from her in late 2016 as he wanted to sell T-shirts and open a new branch of his stall. She charged monthly interest of 10%. He carried on borrowing and his debt at one point reached 80,000 baht, though she agreed to halve the interest 2 years ago when the economy soured.

Ronnarong, the lawyer, says Zeer Rangsit is well known for its loan shark lenders. Police have issued a 10,000 baht reward for information leading to auntie’s arrest, but say they’ve been unable to establish her name and know little about her. They say she’s unlikely to be as wealthy as her nickname suggests nor attached to any gang.

Pathum Thani police hunt

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Protests

Met police deny arresting Thai musician “Ammy” for setting fire to royal portrait

Maya Taylor

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Met police deny arresting Thai musician “Ammy” for setting fire to royal portrait | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bright Today

The Metropolitan Police Bureau has denied reports that the Thai musician and anti-government activist, Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka, “Ammy” has been arrested. The musician and 2 other people are suspected of setting fire to a portrait of His Majesty the King. The Bangkok Post reports that his whereabouts are currently unknown.

Piya Tawichai from the MPB says there is no record of the musician being taken into custody. He was responding to local media reports that Chai-amorn had been arrested.

“We haven’t received any report that Mr Chai-amorn was arrested or put in police custody.”

Chai-amorn and 2 others face charges of lèse majesté, arson, and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. They are suspected of setting fire to a portrait of His Majesty the King outside Klongprem Central Prison in the Chatuchak district of Bangkok in the early hours of Sunday morning. They also face charges of damaging state property.

It’s understood officers conducted a search for the musician yesterday, following the Criminal Court’s approval of arrest warrants for the 3 suspects. Piya says the MPB has sufficient evidence to back up the charges, including CCTV footage at the scene of the crime. It’s reported that Chai-amorn got out of a vehicle in order to set fire to the portrait, while the other 2 suspects remained in the car.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

PM defends measures used against Sunday protesters

Maya Taylor

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PM defends measures used against Sunday protesters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AFP

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended police action against protesters taking part in Sunday’s anti-government rally in Bangkok. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau used tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets in an effort to drive protesters back from the PM’s residence at the 1st Infantry Regiment barracks, King’s Guard. The PM insists the actions were in line with international standards.

“I insist the crowd-control measures were in accordance with international standards and police did not violate the protesters’ rights.”

The PM has also criticised some media outlets for their reporting of the rally, claiming they only focused on officers’ use of force against protesters. 33 people were injured at the rally – 23 police officers and 10 protesters. One police officer, named in a Bangkok Post report as Wiwat Sinprasert, died of heart failure. 22 protesters have been arrested, 4 of whom are minors who will have their cases heard in the Central Juvenile and Family Court.

Phukphong Phongpetra from the MPB says the use of rubber bullets was necessary in order to stop things getting out of control. He says protesters also gathered outside Din Daeng and Suthisarn police stations, where they set fire to police cars. He claims 90 officers were injured in the clashes, with 27 receiving hospital treatment.

National police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk says the measures used by police were not aimed at dispersing protesters, but rather to arrest anyone using violence against officers. He claims this latest protest was different to others, in that some activists kicked things off by attacking police officers.

“We’ve discussed it several times that we will enforce the laws where necessary. If the protesters didn’t harm officers or destroy barriers, we wouldn’t have had to act. And the protesters, they were unable to control each other.”

Opposition politicians have slammed the measures used against protesters, with Rangsiman Rome from the Move Forward Party claiming police fired rubber bullets at random and not at any particular targets.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Bangkok

Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1 | The Thaiger

Coming up today… the fallout from yesterday’s latest protest violence in Bangkok, the first vaccine in Thailand who got it, and a major drug haul along the Mekong.

But first we’ll start up north where Lampang Province is joining other northern provinces todday by putting a total fire ban in place from today, March 1, until the end of April. Chiang Mai also started a ban on all deliberately lit fires from today and Lamphun, just south of Chiang Mai, already has one in place.

The bans are timely after a horrid weekend of air pollution in many of Thailand’s provinces over the long weekend, even as far south as the tourist destination of Phuket where visibility was down to about 1 kilometre and the smell of smoke was noticeable.

Whilst up in the north… 4 Thai women were arrested at a security checkpoint in Tak’s Mae Sot district after they illegally crossed the border from Myanmar into Thailand.

Illegal casinos and fancy hi-so massage parlours in Myanmar in areas near the border, have attracted wealthy Thais and Burmese. The establishments have also attracted plenty of Thais looking for well-paid work across the border.

In a major bust along the Mekong River, a notorious hotzone for drug trafficking, border patrol police seized 920 kilograms of dried, compacted cannabis from a boat along the Nakhon Pathom riverbank, bordering Laos.

Now to the weekend violence as the protests resume where they left off last year…

At least 22 people were arrested during the major Bangkok protest yesterday. It turned violent as pro-democracy activists marched toward the Thai PM’s residence. It’s been reported that one officer died during the rally, reportedly due to heart failure.

At least 33 people were injured… that includes 23 police officers. The clashes happened in front of 1st Infantry Regiment barracks on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road and involved around 1,500-2,000 activists from the Restart Democracy movement, part of the Free Youth group. The group has been protesting against the government and calling for reform of the country’s constitution and monarchy since protests began in July of last year.

And Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign started with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who received the first of China’s Sinovac vaccine yesterday. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was initially planned to be the first to kick off Thailand’s immunisation plan with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but due to problems with paperwork, the PM’s injection was postponed.

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