Thailand News: 3 monks killed in UK; Warning towers

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

Three monks killed in tragic UK car crash
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Thai consul in London is visiting two Thais who survived a head-on car crash yesterday in Scotland in which three Thai monks were killed, the Foreign Ministry says.

One of the victims was from Wat Mahathat in Bangkok and residing in a temple in Wales. The second was from a temple in Scotland and the third from a temple in London.

Police in Scotland are investigating the incident and the bodies will be sent to the temples when the investigation is completed.

The three monks were killed yesterday in the east of Scotland when their car crashed head-on with a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction, the BBC reported.

The monks were passengers in the back seat of the Nissan Note, when it crashed with a Skoda Octavia driven in the opposite direction about 2km south of Pathhead in Midlothian, just after 7.30am local time. The Nissan driver managed to pull herself free, but the front-seat passenger had to be cut out of the wreckage.

The Skoda’s driver was also taken to hospital, but did not suffer serious injury. The road was closed near the scene of the crash to allow police to carry out an investigation.

The BBC quoted Inspector Simon Bradshaw of Lothian and Borders Police as saying: “This is a tragic incident, and we are currently in the process of carrying out inquiries in order to establish the full circumstances of the collision.

“At this time, I am appealing to anyone who noticed the gold coloured Nissan Note or the silver Skoda Octavia on the A68 this morning, to get in touch.”

Warning towers “useless”
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Crippled by robberies and inadequate maintenance, tsunami warning towers in some provinces in the South may not be able to send out an alarm when needed.

“I found that several towers were in poor condition, with thieves having stolen loudspeakers and other equipment. The early-warning system in Ranong may not work properly,” Watchara Thirarattanangkoon said yesterday in his capacity as chairman of the Foundation of National Disaster Warning Council’s Ranong branch.

There are 13 warning towers in Ranong, one of the six southern provinces hit by the 2004 tsunami.

“Locals are now worried,” said Wichai Sricharoen, chairman of the Bang Hin Tambon Administrative Organisation. Bang Hin is in Ranong’s Kapoe district.

Wichai said the locals wanted relevant authorities to repair the towers and ensure they are in working condition.

“Local administrative bodies cannot do much because the signal is linked to the central system,” he said.

He also complained that the signboards were quite confusing and people might not be able to find safe evacuation routes in times of emergencies.

Samniang Maneerat, acting chief of Ranong’s disaster prevention and imitigation office, said a meeting would be held to identify clearly evacuation spots in the province.

Similar problems exist in Trang as well.

“I think the country is just 50 per cent ready to deal with tsunami risks,” Parkpoom Wimantirawat said yesterday on behalf of the Andaman Foundation’s Trang branch.

Living in the shadow of fear
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: In the wake of repeated attacks on their peers, teachers and education officials in the deep South are getting badly demoralised.

“We are in a crisis,” one teacher said on condition of anonymity.

He now relies on amulets to give him the courage to go to work while waiting for his transfer request to be approved.

“My school is in the red zone,” he said. “Just on December 11, insurgents opened fire on a tea shop located along the route that teachers use every day.”

This shooting in Narathiwat’s Rangae district killed four people and injured many others.

Since January 4, 2004, when the ongoing wave of unrest erupted in the deep South, people have been living in fear, and security concerns are growing in other parts of the country. The violence has caused huge casualties as well as massive economic damage.

Among the prime targets are teachers and education officials. So far, the country’s education sector has lost 124 teachers and 34 officials to the unrest.

As many as 2,444 teachers in four districts of Yala applied to be transferred between 2003 and 2009. This is in addition to the requests submitted by teachers in other parts of the South.

“I am worried and shaken,” admitted Thanaporn Maneeprawat.

The 33-year-old teaches at Ban Ta Kam Cham School in Pattani’s Nong Chik district. On November 22, her school’s director Nantana Kaewchan was shot dead just a few hundred metres away from the compound.

“Buddhist teachers feel they are more at risk,” she said.

As a native of Pattani, she has been teaching in the South for years, but says she will never get used to the attacks taking place on an almost daily basis.

She put in for a transfer and it was approved. However, she will still be working in Pattani, though at a different school.

“I’ve been given the permission to work at a school close to home. That gives me some sort of comfort,” she said. “I feel the shorter distance I have to travel, the lower the risk.”

According to Thanaporn, fear about their safety has affected teachers’ ability to teach and their contribution to extra-curricular activities.

“Two people close to me at work have been attacked fatally, and both times I felt compelled to seek a transfer,” she added.

Ban Ta Kam Cham School’s acting director Malasen Asan said he too wished to move out of the area, but had to stay put now that the school’s director has been killed.

“If I leave, there will be nobody around to run the school. Now there are only three teachers hired on a temporary contract and myself at the school,” he said.

Malasen’s transfer request has already been approved. “But I can’t go. I can’t leave the students here without knowing that there is a new school director to take care of them,” he said.

Though fear has gripped his heart, his love for children and sense of duty prevails.

Police seize drug lord’s assets
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: National police chief General Adul Saengsing-kaew said police in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai had seized 250 million baht in assets that reportedly belonged to alleged Golden Triangle drug lord Nor Kham.

Nor was sentenced to death by a Chinese court in November for murdering 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River.

Adul said two houses in Chiang Mai’s Nong Chom area and one house in Chiang Rai’s Wiang Chai district were seized, as well as 7 million baht in cash, gold bars and ornaments, furniture and other valuables.

Police said the assets were kept under the names of Nor’s right-hand man, Sangkham Jamsa, and Nor Kham’s son.
Earlier Adul, in Chiang Mai’s Fang district, ordered 1,600 police and state officials in 63 teams to search target locations to crack down on drug gangs ahead of the New Year holidays.

Among 177 criminals detained, police arrested two men, a Loatian and a Hmong, allegedly transport

— Phuket Gazette Editors

Thailand News

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