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Billionaire seeks police help for alleged extortion

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– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Billionaire seeks police help for alleged extortion
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A billionaire businessman lodged a complaint yesterday against a former board member of the Office of the Welfare Promotion Commission for Teachers and Educational Personnel for alleged detention, extortion and intimidation.

“Several times he threatened to assault and kill me after I refused to pay him 177 million baht,” Samrit Bunditkitsada told the Crime Suppression Division (CSD). “He has even threatened to plant a bomb in my office.”

Mr Samrit is the biggest shareholder of Promise Insurance and founder of Billion Innovated Group.

Among football fans, he is known for running the Police United FC and taking over Reading FC.

Pairoj Tesniyom, who heads the Crime Reporter & Photographer Association of Thailand, accompanied Mr Samrit to CSD acting chief Pol Col Akkaradet Pimonsri yesterday, when Mr Samrit requested police protection.

His trouble with the Office’s former board member started last August, when the latter complained to police that Mr Samrit had abetted wrongdoing by officials.

The complaint was tied to the Office’s decision to direct Bt2.1 billion to the Billion Innovated Group’s solar power plant project in Nong Ya Plong district in Phetchaburi.

“The accusation that the money is a loan granted to my firm is groundless. The truth is that the Office has decided to invest in the power plant,” Mr Samrit said.

He said that after lodging the complaint with police, the former board member had tried to contact him many times.

“So, I finally agreed to meet him on January 12 at a scout camp. Once there, I found him with many robust men. Of them, four carried guns,” Mr Samrit said.

‘I feel my life is in danger’

He said the men forced him to strip and he could only cover himself with a towel during negotiations with the former board member, who allegedly made three demands.

“He wants to me to help him overthrow the current board of the Office, and to pay him Bt177 million in exchange for him withdrawing the complaint against me.

“The third demand is that if the current board of the Office is removed and replaced by his gang, he wants me to pay him a 30-per-cent kickback for any amount of money spent by the Office on my firm’s projects in the future,” Mr Samrit said.

The businessman said that to ensure his safety, he had assured the former board member that he would consider the demands.

After being released, Mr Samrit has not paid the former board member any money.

“Since then, he has intimidated me time and again. I feel my life is in danger and his actions have affected my business. That’s why I have decided to come forward now,” Mr Samrit said.

Col Akaradej promised to look into Samrit’s complaints and ensure justice to all sides.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Koh Samui

Koh Samui to start Covid-19 vaccinations early next month

Caitlin Ashworth

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Koh Samui to start Covid-19 vaccinations early next month | The Thaiger
Stock photo by Alexandr Podvalny for Pexels

Covid-19 vaccinations on Koh Samui will start early next month with 2,500 doses planned to be given to 1,250 people on the island, according to Surat Thani governor Wichawut Jinto. Island authorities are also proposing that foreign visitors be allowed to quarantine on their yacht, at a villa hotel or at a wellness centre.

The tourist island off the coast of Surat Thani in the Gulf of Thailand is deemed as an area of “economic significance” and is included in the first phase of the country’s immunisation plan. The first doses will be given to disease control officials and those in the tourism sector.

The vaccines, which just arrived from overseas yesterday, are expected to be delivered to the island before the end of the month and vaccinations are set to start in early March.

Half of the vaccines are reserved for those in the healthcare field as well as local government officials. Around 26% of the doses would be given to local health volunteers and the general public. 22% of the doses would be given to workers in the tourism industry, including airport employees and hotel quarantine employees. 2% of the doses will go to Covid-19 inspectors.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Pattaya

Another Thai man claims to have found a rare Melo pearl, shell was sold at a Pattaya market

Caitlin Ashworth

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Another Thai man claims to have found a rare Melo pearl, shell was sold at a Pattaya market | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

Another Thai man is claiming to have found a rare Melo pearl. The Pattaya chef says he bought a shell from a local market a decade ago and had no idea the object inside was a rare pearl. After hearing the news about the man in Nakhon Si Thammarat finding what he believes is a Melo pearl possibly worth millions of baht, 57 year old Patipat Hatthadon took the pearl off his shelf and brought it to the Gem and Jewelry Institution of Thailand where it was declared a real Melo pearl weighing 90.10 carats.

The chef bought the shell at the Larn Poe Market in Naklua 10 years ago. He found the pearl inside, but didn’t realise what it was. At first he thought the orange pearl was just a weight, like a lead ball some market vendor put inside to make the shells heavier and up the price.

“I tried to use a knife to pierce the pearl and determine what it was but it didn’t work and I had left it on a religious shelf for the past decade, unaware of what I potentially had.”

Patipat obtained a certificate from the institution. He’s keeping the pearl at a bank and he’s filed a report with Banglamung Police for legal protection due to the value of the pearl. It might be worth millions of baht. He says he’s already been contacted by numerous collectors from across the world. He’s currently considering the offers, he says.

Earlier this month, a Thai fisherman found what he believes to be a Melo pearl possibly worth 10 million baht. He found the pearl in a shell on a Nakhon Si Thammarat beach in Southern Thailand. The news coverage, both nationally and internationally, caught police attention who say the man is a suspect in a drug case. He was arrested 2 weeks ago at his home by the beach.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Drugs

Thailand law enforcement gets new “laser” narcotics analysers

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand law enforcement gets new “laser” narcotics analysers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Thailand law enforcement will now use a new “laser” narcotics analyser to test suspicious substances and chemicals in major drug busts. It’s apparently a more accurate method to identify illicit drugs than the current colour test. The new portable drug test happens to come a few months after Thailand claimed to have seized 11.5 tonnes of ketamine in the “biggest drug bust ever” and then discovered the substance was actually a cleaning agent.

In earlier reports, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said the mistake was a “technical error” and the testing fluid had turned “purple,” a positive sign for ketamine. Somsak didn’t mention the failed ketamine bust when announcing that a pair of “portable Raman spectroscopy analysers” had been delivered to Thailand from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. He says the new tool is more accurate than the colour test.

“The new portable analysers utilise the Raman spectroscopy technique to identify suspicious drugs and chemicals in less than 30 seconds, and more accurately than the colour test method that we currently use.”

Not only can the device detect drugs, but apparently its laser can also detect additives like colouring and flavouring agents, according to Office of the Narcotics Control Board secretary general Wichai Chaimongkhol.

“The machine can detect chemicals either in powder, crystallised, tablet, capsule or liquid form… Its laser can penetrate transparent containers or wrapping of up to 2mm thickness and read the scattering of light to identify the substance accurately, reducing the risk of officials handling harmful chemicals while also helping preserve the evidence.”

The tool is planned to be used to identify suspicious drugs and chemicals that are smuggled across the border as well as at airports and seaports.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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