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Hunt on for Bangkok bomber ‘Dragon’

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Hunt on for Bangkok bomber ‘Dragon’
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: One of the two men suspected of planting and detonating two pipe bombs near Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok last Sunday has been identified by his alias “Dragon” and he is reportedly based in Samut Prakan, where he is known for his connection to a former politician, a security source said yesterday.

Dragon, described earlier as the good-looking man of the two suspects, is known to be prone to violence and is capable of making bombs. He is known also for his connection to a Lop Buri-based network to which a former Army paramilitary ranger belongs, said the source, citing intelligence reports compiled by security officials.

Citing interviews with the taxi driver who drove the two men, the source said Dragon sat on the rear seat while the other man took the front seat. The driver said Dragon looked to be in his 30s, was good-looking, about 170cm tall, had a round face and elongated chin, while the other man was also in his 30s, had dark skin and a square face. The second man was described as thin, around 160cm tall, and looked like he had been travelling a long distance.

The men hailed the taxi near Century shopping mall on Phya Thai Road and got off when it entered Siam Square, paying Bt70 as taxi fare. The source said the driver was confident he would be able to recognise Dragon if he saw him again.

A police source said footage from surveillance cameras installed around Victory Monument were being examined to determine whether the two men had arrived in Bangkok in a van and got off there.

The two men are seen in the footage in new clothes. They seem to have changed their clothes after planting and detonating the twin pipe bombs, said another police source, basing observations on footage from surveillance cameras.

They later tried to get away on a tuk-tuk, but were turned down by the driver. They hailed this tuk-tuk while heading westward on foot to Phya Thai Road. They are later seen walking towards Chulalongkorn University or the Samyan area along the road, and later disappeared from the camera views, the source added.

The source said the men could have changed their clothes in restrooms at Digital Gateway in Siam Square, and crossed Rama I Road using the BTS Siam Station overbridge after planting the bombs near Siam Paragon.

Another source said that the twin pipe bombs could have been planned by core leaders of a political group that had lost its political benefits, by hiring men in uniform.

Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya yesterday repeated a denial by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha that the military government was behind the bomb attacks last Sunday, saying the government did not need to justify the imposition of martial law. Masterminding the bomb attacks would only backfire against the government, as the situation would certainly affect tourism and businesses, he said.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said he had instructed district offices in the capital to help monitor the situation and stay vigilant to support the police or the military. He called on the city’s street sweepers to avoiding inspecting suspicious items, and instead report it to their superiors.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Bangkok

‘Bad Student’ group plan protest after alleged abuse at Sarasas school

Caitlin Ashworth

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‘Bad Student’ group plan protest after alleged abuse at Sarasas school | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Last month's 'Bad Student' protest - AP/Sakchai Lalit

After reports of a kindergarten teacher allegedly abusing and mistreating students, a group of Bangkok high school students known as “Bad Students” will rally in front of the Ministry of Education office tomorrow, calling on the Education Minister to step up.

A teacher at the Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School in Nonthaburi, a suburb in Bangkok, was caught on classroom surveillance camera video pushing a kindergarten student to the floor, dragging another across the classroom and hitting others. That teacher was fired and faces charges of physical assault and violating the Child Protection Act.

The Bad Students say Education Minister Nuttapol Teepuwan did nothing to solve the problems of alleged abuse at the school. The same group of students rallied in front of the office last month, calling on the minister to allow free expression of political views at the schools.

The student activists are planning to rally around 5pm. They plan to have trucks stop by various schools on the way. It’s unclear how many students will turn up, but a Thai actress posted on Twitter that she will bring food and 700 bottles of water to support the protesters.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Transport

Suvarnabhumi Airport extension ready by April, capacity to increase by 15 million passengers

Caitlin Ashworth

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Suvarnabhumi Airport extension ready by April, capacity to increase by 15 million passengers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Matichon

A new terminal extension at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is finishing up after construction was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The addition would not only reduce overcrowding, but also increase the amount of passengers at the airport. The Satellite Terminal 1, or SAT-1, extension is 95% done and expected to be open to the public by April 2021, according to the Airports of Thailand, or AOT, president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn.

The new extension will have 28 parking bays, reducing congestion and allowing more flights to and from the airport. It’s expect to increase the airport’s capacity by 15 million passengers per year. An Automated People Mover, an electric train system, is planned to transport 6,000 people per hour using an underground tunnel connecting to the main terminal which is about a kilometre away.

The pandemic significantly slowed down construction on the new extension, which is part of a 62 billion baht project approved in 2011. Manufacturers overseas were unable to ship parts due to restrictions and some people needed for the project could not enter the country, Nitinai says.

“Due to lockdown measures, we also had to wait longer for experts from overseas who have to arrive to conduct test runs and provide instructions on system operation and maintenance.”

Workers are conducting test runs of the transit system. 2 of the 6 people movers have been delivered. A full test will be conducted once all the trains are delivered. Nitinai says the transit system will be ready before April 2021.

“The building itself is now 100% complete, with only some interior design and landscape work now being finalised … AOT is also working on the APM system, whose installation in the Satellite 1 Building is now over 70% complete.”

The SAT-1 won’t be fully completed until April 2022. Nitinai says the individual carrier system and luggage carousels are 75% complete.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Bangkok

Bangkok’s Khao San Road re-opening for local trade

Maya Taylor

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Bangkok’s Khao San Road re-opening for local trade | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Screengrab - Bangkok Extra

Bangkok’s Deputy Governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul says the capital’s iconic Khao San Road is set to re-open for trade, targeting the local market of Thais and expats. The street is normally a mecca for international tourists, in particular, younger backpackers making the rite-of-passage pilgrimage through Southeast Asia.

There was a pre-Covid botched attempt to meddle with the area’s long-established, and rather endearingly ramshackle, mixture of shops, bars, vendors and scammers. Whilst not particularly popular with the locals, the old Khao San Road was a magnet to tourists. Attempts by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority to gentrify the area resulted in a number of unsuccessful attempts to tame the traders and bring some order to the busy shopping zone.

But the closure of shops and the lack of tourists from the Covid outbreak provided the break the BMA needed to “sort out” the old Khao San Road and do a make-over for the eventual re-opening of the new Khao San Road.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the street hard, with businesses shut, and a marked absence of the international tourists who normally make up a solid 90% of Khao San’s visitors. Now Sakoltee says it’s time for the street to come back to life, saying vendors will target a new demographic of local Thais and expats whilst the borders remained largely closed.

The Bangkok Post reports that Sakoltee chaired a meeting yesterday to plan the re-opening, which it’s hoped will happen at the end of this month. It’s understood additional vendors who attract local custom will set up shop on the road, with various monthly events to boost visitor numbers.

Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang says areas surrounding the road will get a clean-up, in particular, the Chong Nonsi Khlong, or canal. Officials are planning to turn the waterway and the surrounding area into a visitor attraction, a development project that will take place in 2 stages. The first job is to clean the canal, which is currently home to weeds and rubbish. Aswin has directed 250 municipal workers to begin the clean-up operation. Trees along the canal will also be trimmed regularly, and the canal’s drainage and treatment systems are set to be revamped at some point in the future plan.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Association is also planning to create footpaths along both sides of the canal, a project that will be paid for through donations from local businesses. Aswin hopes to have all works completed by April 2021.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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