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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: 5 dead in Ayutthaya bridge collapse; NSC rebuts BRN demands; Academics call to scrap flood plan

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: 5 dead in Ayutthaya bridge collapse; NSC rebuts BRN demands; Academics call to scrap flood plan | Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

5 dead in Ayutthaya bridge collapse
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A suspension bridge over Pa Sak River in Ayutthaya collapsed yesterday evening, crushing five people to death underneath a pillar on one side, while wounding 15 others.

The collapse also sent a large number of pedestrians and motorcyclists into the water, but there were no casualties. The Bicentenary Bridge, 20 metres above the water, has been regularly used. The bridge is believed to have collapsed after the slings broke.

NSC rebuts BRN demands
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: National Security Council Secretary-General Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut went into a damage-control mode yesterday after Hasan Taib, the self-proclaimed “liaison” officer of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Coordinate (BRN-C) made public a list of demands that could derail the recently started talks on peace in the far South.

Gen Paradon said he would raise the issues at today’s dialogue with the so-called BRN-C representatives. However, the NSC chief went on the record to dismiss the demand that the Malaysian government be given the role of “mediator”, as opposed to “facilitator” for the peace process.

He was just as dismissive of Hasan’s demand for the role of outsiders – Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Asean members, or foreign non-government organisations (NGOs) – being part of the dialogue process on the grounds that the conflict in the Muslim-majority southernmost provinces is an internal matter.

Hasan and his associates had the right to go public with these demands, he said. They include the release of all prisoners held on charges related to the ongoing insurgency, dropping all charges against suspected separatist militants, and recognising that BRN is not a “separatist” but a “liberation” movement.

Gen Paradon tried hard to calm concern that the demands may jeopardise the talks because, according to Human Rights Watch’s Sunai Phasuk, Hasan’s demands effectively “derail the terms of reference that Thailand put in place when they signed the agreement to talk on February 28, 2013.”

“Don’t worry about these five demands. Everything has to be under the Constitution,” said Gen Paradon.

“It’s a good thing that they went online to make their demands because now we know what they want. And we are prepared to listen,” he said.

Gen Paradon left last night for Kuala Lumpur for today’s meeting, the second round since the historic February 28 peace agreement. He said he would raise these issues with Hasan’s camp at the meeting.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Gen Paradon dodged a question about the demand to drop charges against suspected militants, saying a number of arrest warrants were made out for suspects who did not show up to meet officials to clear their name.

“Officials have no choice but to make out the warrants because they did not show up to meet the authorities when asked to do so. These are the things we have to look into and reconsider,” Gen Paradon said.

In the statement posted on YouTube yesterday, Hasan vowed to fight on against the Thai government who he referred to as “Siamese colonialists” until the area is liberated and added that all residents of Patani, the Malays’ historical homeland that is now part of Thailand’s southernmost provinces, will be treated justly and equally regardless of whether they are “Malay, Chinese or Siamese”.

Sources in the longstanding separatist movements, including BRN Coordinate members not affiliated with Hasan’s camp, told The Nation that the video was Hasan’s “exit strategy” from the peace process because he knew he would be unable to influence the current generation of separatist militants on the ground.

It was a way for him to “save face” and “redeem” himself, they said.

Members of these long-standing separatist movements accused Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur of luring Hasan into a peace process to serve their political aims.

For Malaysia, being seen as a mediator would attract votes at the upcoming general election. And for Bangkok, it was a way to “whitewash” the de facto leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup on allegations that, among other things, he mishandled the conflict in the South.

They pointed out that Bangkok had never asked Hasan to verify that he has “command-and-control” of militants on the ground.

Since the meeting on February 28, Thai delegates and Hasan’s team have met once. The next meeting is scheduled to take place today, also in Kuala Lumpur.

Hasan’s video was released on the eve of April 28, anniversary of the Krue Se Mosque stand-off between security forces and nearly 40 lightly armed insurgents who fortified themselves inside the historic mosque as they engaged in a lengthy gunfight until they were overpowered and killed.

On April 28, 2004, well over 100 young Malay Muslim militants simultaneously attacked 10 police outposts and one station in the far South with little more than machetes.

Survivors said they were members of a militant cell led by Ismail Yaralong, also known as Ustaz Soh, who inspired them to take up a suicidal mission.

Ustaz Soh led them to believe that they were invincible through his mystical-leaning teaching. All the dead insurgents on that day were buried as martyrs in line with Islamic tradition.

Tawee Sodsong, director of the Southern Border Provinces Adminstrative Centre, said he thought Taib’s clip on YouTube was intended as a direct message to communicate with insurgents to slow down the violence.

The message also showed that he was willing to take part in the peace dialogue, not against his will at the request of Malaysian authorities, as speculated by sceptics. He did not elaborate on the Malaysian authorities’ part.

Scrap flood plan, academics tell govt
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A group of academics and NGOs yesterday called for the government to scrap its national strategy for water and flood management, saying it would drain the state budget, wash out local people’s lives and open the valves to massive corruption.

“The plan to borrow Bt350 billion for water management would cause severe damage to the country,” the group said in a statement.

The master plan of the Office of the National Water and Flood Management Policy should be replaced by the Chao Phraya basin management plan proposed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which would save some 70 per cent of the cost.

The terms of reference for the projects under the master plan were riddled with loopholes that could lead to a flood of graft, said the statement presented by Sasin Chalermlarp, secretary-general of the Sueb Nakhasathien Foundation.

The foundation, together with a network of academics, the Foundation for Integrated Water Management, ThaiFlood.com and Rangsit University held a seminar on “exposing corruption in the plan to expropriate land under the Bt350 billion + Bt200 billion worth of water management projects”.

The statement raised six suspicious points:

  • The master plan lacked public participation, an environment impact assessment and a health impact assessment;
  • The nine operating modules l

    — Phuket Gazette Editors

     

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thailand

British tourists come forward about being attacked on Koh Tao in 2013

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo by Valeriy Ryasnyanskiy for Unsplash

Many continue to contend that Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, the 2 Burmese young men convicted for the 2014 murder of 2 tourists on Koh Tao’s Sairee Beach, are innocent. Now 2 tourists who were attacked on the same beach, just a year before the murder, are now coming forward to help prove that the conviction could have been unreliable.

In September 2014, the bodies of British tourists 23 year old Hannah Witheridge and 24 year old David Miller were found on the beach. Police say Hannah had been raped and David had been hit several times on the head with a garden hoe.

Zaw and Wai were arrested soon after the killings. Some say the investigation was accelerated in an effort to gain back tourist confidence and keep visitors coming to the island. Numerous activists, criminologists, and others have spoken out against the conviction, saying the evidence was bungled.

Just a year before, British tourists Sam Venning and Carla Bartel survived an attack on the same beach. Sam, who was 22 at the time, was talking to Carla, who was 20, on the beach when 2 men wearing V for Vendetta masks attacked them, hitting Sam in the head with a rock.

Sam and Carla came forward to Thai officials after the killings to help with the investigation, but say no one got back to them. Sam says he had emailed the Thai Embassy in London, but no one contacted him. Carla says she contacted the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office who then passed her on to the UK National Crime Agency. She was told that the information was sent to Thai police, but officers did not follow up with her.

SOURCE: Mirror.UK

 

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Phuket

Fishermen find space debris off the coast of Phuket

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Phuket Andaman News

Local fishermen found space debris, possibly from a satellite or space shuttle, on the seabed just 6 metres below the surface by Koh Ael in Phuket. At first, no one knew exactly what it was.

Specialists from a Navy explosive ordnance disposal unit were first called to look at the round, hollow metal object which was about 45 centimetres in diameter. 3rd Naval Area commander Vice Admiral Choengchai Chomchoengpaet told reporters at a press conference that the team took photos of the object and found it appeared to be a rocket fuel tank, possibly used to launch a satellite or shuttle into space. He said it matched photos online.

Both the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, or GISTDA, and the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, agree that the object was most likely a fuel tank for a rocket.

Since the fuel tanks usually contain harmful chemicals like ammonia or hydrogen, divers examined the space debris to make sure there were no chemical leaks before bringing the object to shore and taken to the navy headquarters. The space debris will be taken to the GISTDA to be studied.

“If other objects similar to this one are found elsewhere, people should not touch them. They could contain hazardous chemicals. They should immediately inform Region 3 Thai-MECC or local officials.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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UPDATE: 2 Americans and a Thai arrested over Bangkok kidnap attempt, Thai policeman involved | VIDEO

Tanutam Thawan

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Screenshot: THAICRIME

UPDATE:

Following up from the earlier story involving 2 Americans, a Thai, a Taiwanese businessman, and an Israeli security goon, we have the following update (original story below)…

Police have examined CCTV from the restaurant in Thong Lor where the Taiwanese businessman was kidnapped. It’s also been revealed that a “senior Thai policeman” was involved in the alleged abduction case. The abduction took place on March 28.

The meeting had been called to “resolve” some disagreements over a large purchase of rubber gloves that had gone wrong.

After arriving at a meeting at the L’Oliva restaurant in Sukhumvit Soi 26, Mr. Wen Yu Chung was manhandled, put in a headlock and dragged out of the premises. Daily News reports that a “lieutenant colonel” ranked Thai policeman was also captured on the CCTV supervising the events as they happened inside the restaurant. He is reported as being a former traffic policeman.

Mr. Chung was then held to ransom at the condo NT Court. Attempts were made to contact Mr Chung’s family and business associates to extract a ransom – allegedly 1 and 2 million baht – but they refused to pay.

The 3 men have been identified as 41 year old Jeremy Hughes Manchester, 52 year old Louis William Ziskin, both Americans, and Ekbodin Prasitnarit, Thai.

Mr Louis Ziskin has a somewhat chequered history with his story catalogued on Wikipedia. Summarised…

Ziskin was taken into custody in December 7, 2000 and charged over transactions from November 1999 to December 22, 1999. Ziskin was convicted of smuggling 700 pounds of ecstasy into Southern California via FedEx and other various shipping companies, the largest-ever US government seizure of the drug. There was another indictment a year later.

Following his incarceration, Ziskin lost a double jeopardy appeal for the second indictment. The US government settled all claims against Ziskin for a 188 month sentence and a US$9 million fine.

Daily News also reported a man ‘Mike’ who allegedly invited the policeman to be involved in the incident. Earlier this man was described as “Mr. Michael Greenberg, an Israeli operating a detective company”.

Here’s video showing the arrest of Mr. Ziskin…

EARLIER STORY:

Thai police have arrested 2 American citizens and a Thai for the alleged kidnap of a Taiwanese businessman for ransom. 5 other arrest warrants are also waiting to be executed over the incident. Police allege a “business conflict” over the purchase of plastic ‘nitrile’ gloves as the motive.

The 3 men have been identified as 41 year old Jeremy Hughes Manchester, 52 year old Louis William Ziskin, both Americans, and Ekbodin Prasitnarit, Thai. All 3 have denied the charges including illegal assembly, attempted murder, abduction for ransom and extortion. They were formally charged at the Thong Lor police.

According to Bangkok Post, in late 2020 Mr Ziskin appointed the Collection Company to negotiate the purchase of a large quantity of plastic gloves with the Paddy The Room Trading Company.

Police allege that there was an ongoing conflict between the two sides which was responsible for Mr Ziskin accumulating 93 million baht in damages.. So, according to police, Mr Ziskin hired Mr. Michael Greenberg, an Israeli operating a detective company in Thailand to negotiate and retrieve the losses.

Police allege that Mr Greenberg hired Thai and foreign collaborators to plan an abduction as leverage in the retrieval of their losses. They contacted a 60 year old Taiwanese man from the Collection Company in Thailand to procure a supply of rubber gloves from Paddy The Room Trading Company.

They made an appointment to meet Wen Yu Chung at a restaurant in Bangkok’s in Bangkok’s Tong Lor are off Sukhumvit Road on March 28. Police allege that Mr Greenberg and hired associates arrived, handcuffed the Taiwanese businessman and then took him to the NT Place, 200 metres further south down the same Soi, Sukhumvit 36.

They then called Mr Chung’s boss demanding US$2 million, and then called the man’s family demanding another US$1 million. Both contacted police and did nothing to accede to the demands for ransom..

The abductors then headed to a restaurant in Soi 24, with Mr. Chung, eventually letting him go. The Taiwanese man went, first to hospital, then to Thong Lor police station to relate his story. Eventually 8 arrest warrants were issued over the alleged abduction. Soon after police arrested Mr Manchester, Mr Ziskin and Mr Ekbodin.

We’ll continue to follow this story.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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