Thailand News: Kidnapped Thais in Nigeria still alive; Taib will lead BRN team; Channel 7 journo seeks help with libel charge; ICT scoffs at online control


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

Kidnapped Thai calls to say all safe
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: One of the four Thai workers, who were abducted by an unknown gang in Nigeria, called his company to say he and the others were safe and had not been harmed, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Manasvi Srisodapol said yesterday.

The victim told the company that he would make contact again, the spokesman said, without identifying the caller. The kidnapped Thais are husband and wife Somchok Punpinit, 55; and Bussaya Sripanya, 38; Somchok’s brother Thanawut, 50; and Chaiyan Taichompu, 46.

The four Thais and two Nigerians were on their way to work at an Israeli-operated fish farm in the southern Rivers State in Nigeria on Friday when a gang of about six people kidnapped them. Manasvi said Thai Ambassador to Nigeria Somchai Powcharoen has assigned his minister counsellor to go to Rivers State to take charge of the issue.

“The kidnappers have not demanded a ransom or anything else. When the demand is made, we can start negotiating,” he said.

Meanwhile relatives of the abducted Thais met in Udon Thani’s Nong Han district to seek help from MP Thongdee Manissarn. They said the four victims had travelled to Nigeria in December last year with a six-month visa, and returned home on June 9 when their visas expired.

They returned to Nigeria on June 20 with new visas. Somchok and Bussaya’s son, Panu Punpinit, 23, said his parents contacted him everyday via Facebook. Since there were no signs of danger, he and one of his cousins were scheduled to go to work in Nigeria and had already obtained a six-month visa.

“We are about to leave. We’re just waiting for air tickets and my father’s confirmation of the travel date,” Panu said.

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette’s Thailand news pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for the latest national news updates.

Malaysia confirms Taib will lead BRN team in talks
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut said yesterday that he had received the confirmation from Malaysia, which is playing the role of dialogue facilitator.

Aziz Benhawan, a Thai representative, said he was confident the fourth round of talks would take place on Sunday as scheduled. The peace talks officially began in March. Yet, bloody attacks in the deep South have continued and rumours have been spreading that the peace process is collapsing.

Over the past two days, several incidents have taken place in the region, with at least two deaths reported.

Aziz explained that the upcoming meetings would be important because both sides would likely raise questions and demand clear answers from the other.

Paradorn said the Thai team expected to use Sunday’s meeting to develop tangible results.

“We need tangible solutions,” he reiterated.

He went on to say that the government-appointed steering committee would meet this week to discuss the BRN’s five demands.

Separately, a bomb exploded yesterday as officials were inspecting the site where unknown gunmen opened fire on a vehicle carrying Sayan Chanachaiwong, the chief of Narathiwat’s Sungai Padi district, on Monday night. The district chief got away unharmed as the vehicle was bullet proof.

The explosion injured 11 people, including two assistant reporters. Of the victims, Pol Corporal Rungroj Netrat succumbed to his injuries on the way to a hospital, while another policeman, Lieutenant Supanit Wijitsopa, is in serious condition.

Police say about seven kilograms of explosives were used in the bomb attack. In Pattani, a bomb exploded as soon as territorial-defence volunteers arrived at a scene where burning tyres were reported earlier yesterday. Six people were injured, including a 13-year-old boy.

Two of the victims are in critical condition. In Yala, a former village chief was shot dead as he was about to enter his home on Monday evening. In Narathiwat, two gunmen opened fire on a territorial-defence-volunteer base on Monday night.

Fortunately, none of the 14 volunteers and an assistant village head was hurt. “We ran for cover when they opened fire,” team leader Abdulloh Dormi said.

“We also fired back and they sped away on their motorcycle.”

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette’s Thailand news
pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for the latest national news updates.

Channel 7 journalist seeks support over libel charge
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: An assistant chief of the Channel 7 television station’s news team is seeking help from various organisations after his work exposing alleged budget-use irregularities in the Samut Prakan Provincial Administrative Organisation resulted in him being charged with defamation.

Sompoch Toraksa yesterday met with the chief of the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT), the Thai Journalists’ Association, the Lawyers Council of Thailand, and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association.

His news coverage reportedly raised questions about the local administrative organisation’s Bt800-million budget for temples. Sompoch yesterday said he had not accused any organisation of being corrupt, but just wanted to alert the public about abbots’ concerns about budget use.

“I will continue to do my duty,” he said. ACT chief Pramon Sutivong said his organisation would look into how to help Sompoch and to prevent such cases from hurting the morale of people working against corruption.

“When media present news related to corruption, society pays more attention to corruption issues,” he said. He said he wanted to see the public become more aware of anti-graft efforts.

According to Pramon, the case against Sompoch is now being handled by investigators and it remains to be seen whether it will go to court.

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette’s Thailand news pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter — Phuket Gazette Editors

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