Thailand News: Driver runs Bangkok checkpoint, kills 3 police; Storms lash capital; Red shirts set for May rally
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: Three police were killed and three others injured in a crash when a young man drove a sports utility vehicle through a police checkpoint on the outbound lanes of Borom Rachachonnanee Road in Thawee Wattana in Bangkok late on Sunday night.
Nawaphorn Phetkaew, 25, has been charged with causing death through carelessness and causing property damage.
He will be detained in custody if not granted bail when he enters a plea at the Taling Chan Court today.
Thamma Sala police, who have jurisdiction over the site, said that tests had found no alcohol or drugs in Nawaphorn’s blood, and that he had no record of mental problems, as speculated initially.
The driver told police later that he was short-sighted, and not familiar with the Mitsubishi Pajero as it belonged to his father.
Parked cars ‘startled him’
After an investigation, police said Nawaphorn was startled upon seeing a row of parked vehicles in front of him, and lost control of his car after suddenly hitting the brake. Nawaphorn had earlier said he was driving fast but police did not give details about whether he was speeding illegally.
The checkpoint, manned by officers from Taling Chan police station, was pulling over a number of vehicles queued in a row at around 11.30pm.
The suspect’s SUV was heading toward the checkpoint then lost control at a high speed, and hit the checkpoint.
Nawaphorn made apologies to the families of the three dead officers, and said he deplored the incident.
The three dead officers were Pol Sub-Lieutenant Anek Nunnoy and Pol Lance Corporals Songphol Phrommala and Yanyong Anant.
Their families have been granted aid money and they will be promoted posthumously to Police Major and Police Sergeant Major, respectively, national police chief Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew said.
He said the three wounded officers were treated and had also been given money to assist them.
PHUKET: Storms hit several areas in Bangkok yesterday, felling advertising signs and damaging more than 30 homes and 10 vehicles in Bang Khen district.
In Kalasin, more than 150 homes were damaged by storms and three hours of non-stop rain, while nine homes in Buri Ram were swept away and 61 others damaged by storms.
The National Disaster Warning Centre yesterday issued warnings about possible rainstorms and torrential rain by tomorrow in several regions, with the exception of the South.
PHUKET: Staff at a Buddhist temple in the Northeast yesterday denied claims on social media that they had sold a three-metre-long head of a Buddha statue to an antique dealer.
“It’s groundless. The spread of such information has ruined our reputation,” Arj Ekkaphan, a layman assistant at Buddha Nimit Temple in Nakhon Phanom, said.
The claim that a temple in Tha Uthen district had disposed of the artwork for Bt20,000 for use as a decoration at a hotel or restaurant, with an image of the awe-inspiring head, “went viral” on the Net.
Many distressed Buddhists shared the message in the hope of attracting the attention of authorities.
Soon enough, not just officials but curious individuals flocked to Buddha Nimit Temple to view the Buddha head that lies in front of its bell tower.
‘Only 20 years old’
“Preliminary examinations show the article is a little over 20 years old. It’s not considered a historical object,” Laddawan Thipsing of the Fine Arts Department said.
A historical piece by law must be over a century old.
Village chief Lampoei Chanapoj said this statue was cast in 1988 as part of a Buddhist’s plan to erect a grand Buddha statue that, together with its base, was designed to stand 29 metres high. However, due to poor construction of the base, the statue collapsed and broke apart.
“No one was killed in the accident but the temple has no funds to rework on the statue,” he said.
Arj said the Buddha-statue head was left where it had fallen down for many years until a monk from another province visited the temple and noticed it.
“The monk has expressed a willingness to repair the Buddha-statue head but plans to move it to a temple in Amnat Charoen,” he said.
Although the false reports about the temple was upsetting, there may be a happy ending.
“I hope the news coverage, which started from rumours, will spur donations for the restoration of this Buddha head,” he said.
PHUKET: The government yesterday finally relented to a request by the Senate to convene an extraordinary parliamentary session that might take up the impeachment of ex-speaker Nikom Wairatpanij and select a new speaker.
It has been proposed that the Senate speaker act as Parliament president to nominate a new prime minister for royal endorsement if incumbent Yingluck Shinawatra is ordered by a court to step down.
The Cabinet approved a draft royal decree for the special session from Friday until May 10.
The meeting is needed to endorse a new member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission to replace Jaided Pornchaiya, who has retired, and new judges for the Administrative Court, Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana said.
He said Deputy Senate Speaker Surachai Liangboonlertchai, who is acting speaker, did not mention anything about impeaching the former speaker in his request early this month for the extraordinary parliamentary session.
Nikom is accused of unlawfully chairing a parliamentary meeting to amend the Constitution’s provisions on composition of the Senate.
Under Article 132 of the Constitution, the Senate cannot hold a session during a House recess unless there are pressing tasks such as the appointment of members for independent organisation.
Surachai yesterday expressed concern that the parliamentary meeting would be too short to work efficiently. The upper chamber would have to complete two urgent tasks – endorsing NACC member Supa Piyajitti and Administrative Court judges – but a committee would have to be set up to scrutinise Supa’s qualifications and the whole process would take time.
Surachai said he would consult with the Senate’s legal experts and other units of Parliament on what to do during this brief sitting given by the Cabinet.
New speaker may be selected
The Senate would also see if a new speaker and deputy speakers could be selected during this extraordinary session, he said.
The development at the Upper House came as efforts continued to help break the political deadlock. Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva carried on with his mission to
— Phuket Gazette Editors
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