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Thailand News: Thawil pledges to rethink Deep South policy; Pregnant official slain; Bt2.9mn ATM robbery; Warrants sought for red shirt poet killers

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Thailand News: Thawil pledges to rethink Deep South policy; Pregnant official slain; Bt2.9mn ATM robbery; Warrants sought for red shirt poet killers | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Thawil to review Deep South policy
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri says his first mission will be to review policy on the unrest in the Deep South and national security work there.

The guideline of having a peace dialogue with separatist groups – according to the caretaker government’s policy – would still be implemented along with other solutions for problems, Thawil said yesterday.

He would continue his previous work throughout the remaining five months of his term, said Thawil, who will retire in September.

Meanwhile, Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, is on his way to inspect the northern-based Army in Chiang Mai.

He said yesterday he had urged the Army Region 4 commander to adjust the southern insurgency-tackling operations and strategies to be more precise, fast and proactive, while also involving and integrating other state agencies.

On Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the Krue Se massacre in which 32 people were killed in clashes between authorities and suspected insurgents went without violence.

More caution needed

However, Prayuth said the situation still required extra caution because the insurgents were determined to launch attacks to pressure and discredit state officials.

He said the Army would perform various proactive measures – political and military as well as social development – in the region and that the southern unrest was a complicated issue.

All agencies were doing their best in the hope the situation would improve soon.

First Army Region chief Lt-General Theerachai Nakwanich urged state officials to watch out for attacks during the Red Cross fair in Narathiwat’s Muang district from May 2-11.

He was told that there were 34 bomb attacks and 21 gun attacks, killing 29 persons, from October 2013 to March 2014 in Narathiwat and that officials had arrested 30 out of 93 wanted suspects in national security cases.

He was speaking during a visit yesterday to lift the morale of soldiers in the deep South.

In Yala, Police Operations Centre for Southern Border Provinces’ chief Pol Maj-General Yongyuth Jaroenphanich reported that national security cases were only 6.88 per cent of all crimes in the restive region in the past decade (2004 to March 31, 2014).

The three southernmost provinces and Songkhla’s four districts had a total of 138,979 criminal cases (Pattani 33,203, Yala 42,781, Narathiwat 43,506 and Songkhla’s four districts 19,489), most of which stemmed from personal conflict, including political disputes and illegal trade (smuggled gasoline, narcotics).

Pattani had 3,241 national security cases, Yala 2,861, Narathiwat 3,216, and Songkhla’s four districts’ 245 cases.

In Narathiwat’s Muang district, Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre secretary-general Pol Colonel Thawee Sodsong presented awards to eight outstanding health volunteers at a ceremony to mark Health Volunteer Day yesterday.

Pregnant health official killed in Narathiwat gun attack
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A two-month pregnant health official was killed and her colleague wounded in a gun attack yesterday afternoon in Narathiwat’s Si Sakhon district.

When the two women arrived on a motorbike at a market in front of Si Sakhon Hospital at around 2pm, four suspects on two motorbikes approached them before one opened fire at the victims before fleeing.

Health official Jariya Phromnuan, 29, who was married to Si Sakhon precinct’s Pol Sub-Lieutenant Jessada Panyachotikul, succumbed to a gunshot wound in the head at Si Sakhon hospital. The other victim, 25-year-old health employee Pinyupa Wachirakijkosol, sustained a gunshot wound in right cheek and was later transferred to Pattani Hospital. Police believe insurgents might be behind the attack.

Separately, a police bomb squad defused a 20-kilogram bomb that was planted behind a roadside garbage bin in Narathiwat’s Yi-ngo district at 1pm yesterday following a tip-off. Police suspect the bomb, which was to be detonated by a communication radio, had been planted to hit a team of security officials who were meant to use the route.

Arrest warrants sought for two key suspects in red-shirt poet’s murder
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: At least two people were involved in the April 23 killing of red-shirt poet Kamol “Mainueng Kor Kuntee” Duangphasuk, a senior police officer said yesterday. Police were also trying to find out the motive behind the killing – if it was a personal conflict, or if it had something to do with the late poet’s political campaigns, national police deputy chief Pol General Aek Angsananont said.

Arrest warrants for the two suspects were to be confirmed later yesterday after the case investigators met, he said, adding police were checking to see if the sketches made from eyewitness accounts matched the two people captured in security camera footage.

Judging from the attack, reported area scouting and victim stalking, he said police believed a team of more than two people carried out this killing.

Meanwhile, Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha dismissed reports that Kamol was on the Army’s blacklist, saying that such allegations should be backed by evidence and urged people to not link the Army to any particular side because the armed forces were duty-bound to take care of all sides.

ATM robbed of Bt2.9mn in Chon BuriThe Nation / Phuket GazettePHUKET: Four men broke into Siam Commercial Bank’s ATM booth in Chon Buri’s Bang Lamung district and escaped with about Bt2.9 million in cash early Tuesday morning.

Police were alerted around 1am about the incident. At the scene, they found the back part of the ATM machine broken down by cutting torch.

A security guard told police that he smelt something was burning at the ATM booth around midnight so he went to check and found four men wearing hood were transferring two money boxes from the booth to their vehicle.

They intended to steal more money boxes but gave up and fled after seeing him, the guard said.

The bank later said that the stolen money was about Bt2.9 million, but would check the exact amount of money again.

Police said the investigation from security camera footage showed that the robbers may be Thais. The robbery was well prepared, police said, there was no alarm signal from the booth to police station so the suspects spent about half an hour to break into the ATM.

— Phuket Gazette Editors



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King Power’s duty free monopoly under review

The Thaiger & The Nation

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King Power’s duty free monopoly under review | The Thaiger

King Power Duty Free’s monopoly of duty free concessions at some of Thailand’s busiest airports may be coming to an end.

The Thai PM has warned against the “monopolisation” of the country’s airport duty free sector ordering a review of the auctioning process that could threaten the multi-billion-dollar empire of current concession holder King Power.

Thailand expects to welcome over 40 million foreign visitors this year, mostly through its airports which rake in an estimated US$1.9 billion a year in duty free sales.

Airports of Thailand (AoT) awarded King Power the sole concession back in 2006 but is set to expire in September 2020. AoT is a state-run enterprise.

King Power was founded by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the tycoon who made billions from duty free stores and invested in everything from hotels, property and, famously, the Leicester City football club. His helicopter crashed outside the club’s home ground in October last year. According to Forbes Magazine, Vichai had handed his empire to his youngest son Aiyawatt. At his death the company was valued around US$5.8 billion,

The new contract for duty-free sales, AoT says, will be managed by a single company with a proven track record of experience in the sector, creating fears of a prolonged monopoly.

But PM Prayut Chan-O-Cha has stepped in saying the government has received complaints from interested parties “on the issue of monopolisation”. He assigned an urgent review of the bidding to find a “suitable process to be fair”.

Thailand’s Mall Group and shopping empire Central Group are eyeing entry into duty-free while South Korean giant Lotte is also wanting to bid for the valuable concession.

Last year, a Thai court rejected an attempt to sue King Power for hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid revenue to the airport authority.

SOURCE: The Nation

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One dead, kids injured in school bus accident in Prachinburi

The Thaiger

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One dead, kids injured in school bus accident in Prachinburi | The Thaiger

Photo: Prachinburi PR Office

A bus has crashed just north-east of Bangkok, killing one and injuring another 10.

Wangkhon Police in Prachinburi were notified of the accident at 4:40am early today.

The bus was travelling from Nong Bua Lamphu, north east of Thailand, to Prachinburi. The bus was carrying 20 high school students and 19 teachers.

When the bus arrived at the section of the road at Nadee in Prachinburi, the bus careered off the side of the road and overturned.

One female student died instantly while others 10 passengers sustained injuries. They were rushed to the Nadee Hospital.

Police are continuing their investigation this morning.

One dead, kids injured in school bus accident in Prachinburi | News by The Thaiger One dead, kids injured in school bus accident in Prachinburi | News by The Thaiger One dead, kids injured in school bus accident in Prachinburi | News by The Thaiger

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Thai driver puts in an excellent weekend at Australian GP finishing 14th

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai driver puts in an excellent weekend at Australian GP finishing 14th | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Alex Albon makes a splash in Melbourne with the first crash of the season and then a sparkling result against the odds

Alex Albon, the Thai-English F1 driver, says he was was satisfied with yesterday’s work in Melbourne after the first Thai driver in Formula 1’s modern era threatened a huge shock before settling for a respectable 14th place at the Australian Grand Prix.

In Friday’s practice, Albon suffered the dubious honour of becoming the first driver of the season to crash out, sending his Toro Rosso car spinning into the barriers.

Further evidence the Thai might be out of his depth at the top level came with a panicked message from his cockpit: “Oh my God … I got my fingers stuck in the headrest and nearly hit the wall.”

But then Saturday’s qualifying saw him unexpectedly surge past his more experienced Russian teammate Daniil Kvyat into 13th place on the grid. Kvyat, with a season of F1 already under his belt, was two grid places behind as the red lights blinked out and the Thai stomped on the accelerator yesterday.

The result was a lightning start for Thailand’s new era at the top of global motorsports.

“The race started off very well, I dropped the clutch and thought ‘great, that was okay!’ I made up two positions straight away and at that time we were in the mix, as I was already one position away from the points,” said Albon, after yesterday’s racing. Tyre problems

“That was pretty much as good as it got for me, though,” he added, complaining that the Toro Rosso tyre strategy failed to pay off.

“We were in a battle with Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, I think he was struggling with his tyres and everyone on that strategy lost out.”

Despite losing ground to more experienced rivals as his tyres began to wear, Albon declared himself satisfied with his performance in Melbourne.

“All of the guys who stayed out on the harder compound behind overcut us. That compromised our race but I’m still happy with how my weekend went. I think we could have had points so that stings a little, but it was a good experience and I came away with a clean weekend, relatively speaking!”

Team Principal Franz Tost was impressed by Albon’s driving accuracy on Melbourne’s tricky street circuit.

“Alex did a great job … because this was his first race in F1 and it’s not an easy circuit around here. Nevertheless, he didn’t make any mistake and learned a lot throughout the weekend. After the first race weekend, we feel we have a strong package, so I’m optimistic for the next races.”

Thai driver puts in an excellent weekend at Australian GP finishing 14th | News by The Thaiger

Thai driver puts in an excellent weekend at Australian GP finishing 14th | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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