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Opinion

Phuket Opinion: Police intelligence, deeper ties to community key to cutting the murders

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Opinion: Police intelligence, deeper ties to community key to cutting the murders | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The recent arrest of Belgian murder suspect Marc De Schutter is the latest in a series of events that have kept Phuket in the international spotlight. (See front-page story, current issue of the Phuket Gazette. Digital subscribers click here to download the full newspaper.)

The De Schutter arrest also highlights the need for a more savvy approach by authorities to prevent criminals, both domestic and imported, from trying to establish themselves here.

Although the Tourism Authority of Thailand would be loath to admit it, Phuket has just about everything a criminal on the lam could ask for: generous immigration rules for new arrivals; a wide choice of accommodation; a relatively low cost of living; and, perhaps, greater opportunity to obstruct justice than might be the case in some other countries. With its large expatriate community and millions of foreign visitors every year, Phuket is a place where just about anyone can blend in – whether from Novosibirsk, Nairobi, or Nakhon Nowhere.

While some metropolises may boast a similar cultural mix, few have nice beaches and clean air. Perhaps it won’t be long before Phuket supplants Mexico as the preferred shooting location for the final scenes in Hollywood movies, when the likable diamond thief is seen relaxing on a beach, pina colada in hand.

For better or for worse, humans have an innate tribal tendency that manifests itself in a desire to congregate among those who share a common language, culture, nationality or other magnetic attribute.

The same is true of domestic transplants. Although most foreign residents are probably unaware of it, there are many large associations of people from other parts of Thailand here in Phuket, and it’s important that these networks be put to better use in the fight against crime.

Recent statistics are troubling. There was a 72.3% increase in heinous crimes in Phuket during the first half of this year compared to the same period last year. While comparison of the absolute number of crimes is not statistically significant, the apparent potential for growth in violent crime is unacceptably high.

Police are quick to herald closed-circuit television (CCTV) as our savior in the fight against crime, but while CCTV imagery has helped investigators bring many criminals to justice, it is not nearly so effective as a deterrent – just ask the families of murder victims Michelle Smith, Sunisa “Nong Som” Saiyoy, Rungnapa Suktong, or Wanphen Pienjai, to name a few.

In the final analysis, CCTV will never replace intelligence as the key to crime prevention. If the Royal Thai Police are really serious about reducing violent crime, they need to create a better working relationship with local residents, Thai and foreign alike.

A good start would see some decentralization in the police force and a change away from the ‘shuffle-them-in, shuffle-them-out’ regimen that makes it so difficult for ranking officers to establish ties to the local community. Nowhere has this failing been more starkly highlighted than in the Deep South, where violent attacks have claimed the lives of at least 16 people in recent weeks.

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

Opinion

Americans tend to misuse the Buddha image, but a Florida nightclub takes it too far – OPINION

Caitlin Ashworth

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Americans tend to misuse the Buddha image, but a Florida nightclub takes it too far – OPINION | The Thaiger
Photo by Tangra Club

Americans tend to misuse the Buddha image, but a nightclub in Tampa, Florida has taken it too far by placing a giant Buddha statue at its rooftop bar, allowing drunk people to sit and pose for photos, and even jump off on the statue. Businesses play an important role in society, and when they misuse a religious figure or image that is highly respected in other countries, it can lead to widespread ignorance and misconception.

If you’ve been in Bangkok, you’ve likely seen some of the billboards by the Knowing Buddha Organisation put up to educate foreign tourists that Buddha is not for decoration and tattoos of the Buddha are extremely inappropriate. Some tourists in other Southeast Asian countries have faced arrest and deportation for having a Buddha tattoo, unaware it is illegal and extremely inappropriate to have the Buddha image on their body. Knowing Buddha says “the world has gone too far in using Buddha images wrongly, with lack of consideration.”

The Tampa nightclub is just adding to the misconception and leading to more cultural unawareness. Go go dancers posed in front of the Buddha in a photo posted on the club’s Instragram page. One woman at the club sat on the Buddha as she chugged a bottle of what appears to be champagne. Another woman posted a photo of her basically in her underwear sitting on the Buddha statue and wrote the caption “Pray to your goddess.”

Americans tend to misuse the Buddha image, but a Florida nightclub takes it too far - OPINION | News by The Thaiger

Tangra Club is in Ybor City, a historic Cuban district in Tampa known for its wild and eclectic nightlife. It’s got just about everything for everyone – numerous drag shows, both male and female go go dancers, dive bars, raves, craft beer bars, Cuban cigar lounges, a Coyote Ugly bar, night clubs with music of all the popular genres, even a fetish club.

Right in the beating heart of all the madness is Tangra Club with a giant, sparkling statue of Buddha sitting in the meditation pose at the club’s “Paradise Rooftop Bar.” If you want to talk about misuse, well that’s it.

The “Super Bowl streaker” even hit up the club the other week and jumped off the Buddha before taking off his shirt, revealing the same pink one-piece he wore when he ran nearly-naked across the football field, interrupting the Super Bowl game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The #SuperBowlStreaker back it again at the Bucs private celebration party 🤦🏻‍♂️😂

Posted by Tangra Nightclub on Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Buddha looks like it’s become a logo for the club. They even put an eye patch and Mardi Gras beads on a graphic of the Buddha with pirate ships in the background on a promotional post for its after party for Gasparilla Pirate Festival, an annual parade and reenactment of the pirate invasion by local legend Jose Gaspar. Basically a pirate-themed Mardi Gras. The caption said “Our Buddha is Gaspy ready…Are you?” One commenter even asked “Do you have a name for your Buddha?”

Americans tend to misuse the Buddha image, but a Florida nightclub takes it too far - OPINION | News by The Thaiger

Instagram

On the club’s website, it says the Tangra’s “multi million dollar renovation will feature pieces & furnishings made #EXCLUSIVELY for Tangra Nightclub by European artists, architects and craftsmen.”

If the Buddha statue was done by a highly paid artist, you would think at least one person would have done a little research… like a quick Google search. Instead they’re just cashing in on a trend they don’t seem to understand. And in America, Buddha is in fashion.

For the American “millennial hippie” (that’s what I’m calling them), Buddhism seems to be based on meditation and opening the “third eye.” And a lot of Americans don’t even get into Buddhism until they’ve tripped on acid a dozen times and decided to start on some psychedelic path to what they think is “enlightenment.” There’s even Buddha ecstasy pills and Buddha LSD blotter sheets. (Google it.) Take what you want from other religions when exploring your spirituality, but don’t put Buddha on a blotter sheet.

Americans who are into “Buddhism” often say they’re “spiritual, but not religious” and that Buddhism is actually a “philosophy, not a religion.” (I guess that’s why no one cares about breaking the no drugs and alcohol rule.) An associate professor for religious studies heard the same thing and wrote an article about it for the website The Conversation called “Why so many Americans think Buddhism is just a philosophy.”

Other Beat poets, hippies and, later, New Age DIY self-helpers have also paradoxically mistaken Buddhism for a kind of self-indulgent narcissism, despite its teachings of selflessness and compassion. Still others have commercially exploited its exotic appeal to sell everything from “Zen tea” to “Lucky Buddha Beer,” which is particularly ironic given Buddhism’s traditional proscription against alcohol and other intoxicants.

With the lack of travel over the past year due to the pandemic, it’s likely that the cultural divide will only grow. Based on the Tangra Club’s Instagram, it looks like they’re only adding to cultural ignorance among Americans.

Want to know what’s considered respectful? Visit knowingbuddha.org.

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer and editor at The Thaiger. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect the views of The Thaiger staff.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

QAnon, plandemics and sheeple – making sense of the Covid conspiracy-speak

Tim Newton

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QAnon, plandemics and sheeple – making sense of the Covid conspiracy-speak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Are you one of the sheelple? - P48 Marketing

OPINION

Whilst many of us have been finding ways to cope with lockdowns and restrictions related to Covid-19, or trying to hang on to jobs and keep our family safe, others have used their spare time to indulge in an elaborate alternate universe of plandemics, sheeple and evil 5G. Bill Gates is apparently the devil in human form and ‘Q’ isn’t the grumpy gadget man for James Bond any more.

As the Covid-19 pandemic keeps evolving as a harsh reality, so has the infodemic. Whilst the scientists have battled to develop vaccines, news and social media platforms have been in a battle of facts. Normally intelligent people are denouncing the wearing of masks, refuse to consider getting vaccinated and believe 5G networks ‘infect’ people with Covid-19. Elaborate videos have been produced, at great expense, full of unsubstantiated nonsense, alternate statistics, claims that the coronavirus is “just a flu” and that the impact of the virus has been vastly exaggerated.

It’s now becoming increasingly simple to brand the people who indulge in these fantasies as ‘cultists’, unable to extricate themselves from the world of make believe, feeding off each other and the curated posts sent to them on their chosen social media platforms.

There’s also a whole new language where terms of derision are used to replace facts and reasoned argument. Almost all of the conspiracy theories, and the people promoting them, emerge from the US.

In what’s become somewhat of a new cult of alternate facts, welcome to the nouveau lingo of the Covid conspiracy world…

Plandemic

aka. ‘Scamdemic’.

Plandemic usually refers to two conspiracy theory documentaries produced this year by Mikki Willis. Until May, Mikki Willis was best known for posting ‘nice’ viral videos of his family online. His first documentary was hugely popular, the second sunk without a trace.

The much-viewed first documentary has since been thoroughly debunked and discredited. Both feature Judy Mikovits, an equally discredited scientist who was formerly worshipped in the anti-vaccine movement, despite her denials. In the documentary she maintained that a malevolent global “elite” (below) caused the pandemic in order to seize power, money and control the wider population – sort of a collective noun for Bond villains.

Among her other claims, face masks can activate the Covid-19 virus. Her nonsense has been completely dismantled by just about every scientist and medical practitioner. Unfortunately the documentaries came at a time when the US was in the midst of its first quasi-lockdown and clocked up a credible 7 million views on YouTube before it was removed. You can still see it if you really dig into a few dark corners of the internet.

In her book, ‘Plague of Corruption’, Mikovits compares herself to Galileo and Martin Luther King jnr.

A Pew Research Centre survey asked people in the US if they had heard the theory that Covid-19 was “intentionally planned” by people in power. 71% of US adults said they had. A third of the respondents said it was “definitely” or “probably” true.

Follow the breadcrumbs – the world according to ‘Q’

Originally used as a means of navigation in the Grimm’s penned “Hansel and Gretel’ tale, where the children drop breadcrumbs along the way into the forest so they can then find their way back home, the breadcrumbs are now tidbits of knowledge you must follow to learn the truth – that is the truth according to American conspiracy theorists QAnon. In a long line of famous American cults, QAnon is the latest, the most politically toxic and widespread.

Greatly simplifying, QAnon claim that former US President Donald Trump has been spearheading a secret war, between golf games, against “well known” Satan-worshippers and paedophiles – the new President Joe Biden being one of them according to QAnon. A whole secret, satanic cult of paedophiles, (not only paedophiles but ‘cannibalistic paedophiles’), all Democrats of course, exists in an underground cult. Hillary Clinton was also one of them.

It all comes from the mouth of the anonymous “Q” who posts the stories on encrypted message services and then get shared around social media. Not to be confused with Q from James Bond who was responsible for ejector seats in Aston Martins, poison pens and guns fitted to license plates.

These messages from “Q drops” or “crumbs”explain facts about a “cabal” within the “elite”, or the secret war , referred to as the “cbts”, or “calm before the storm”. The series of “breadcrumbs are then shared and spread online by people that have the time to understand facts from an unknown person sprouting outrageous nonsense.

It would be laughable except that the QAnon theories (a poor use of the word ‘theories’) were circulated in the White House by a number of staffers that subscribe to the trail of breadcrumbs, dragging other down the Q-inspired rabbit hole.QAnon is now considered a ‘cult’ by US prosecutors.

Sheeple

If you’ve had the wool pulled over your eyes regarding the “truth” of Covid-19, or are easily led astray, you’re one of the Sheeple (alternate spelling – ‘sheople’).

Unless you’re wallowing in your own self-righteous, unprovable alternate reality, YOU are sheeple… you don’t have the clarity of vision and intellect to understand the “truth”. Luckily, for the rest of us, the accusers have the time and commitment to bring us up to speed with their facts, and can usually reel them off at pace. And then repeat them over and over to MAKE SURE the sheeple understand.

YOU sheeple just follow the main stream media (which is any media that reports news they don’t like)… you are just part of the uninformed flock.

Bill Gates

Just throw his name into any Covid-19 conversation and stand back.

Wikipedia lists Bill Gates as ‘William Henry Gates III’, an American business magnate, software developer, and philanthropist. He is best known as the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. Our generation has seen the young geek, sometimes competitor and sometimes collaborator with Apple’s Steve Jobs, grow into the cardigan-wearing philanthropist who, along with his wife, have formed one of the largest private foundations in the world.

They get their foundation involved in all sorts of public health projects but, according to conspiracy theorists, are spreading evil around the world.

Now Bill Gates, earlier seen as a geek-version of Mr Rogers, is now the voodoo doll for Covid-19 conspiracy theorists.

Back in 2015, an unassuming-looking Bill Gates came on stage at a TED conference in Vancouver to issue a dire warning…

“If anything kills over 10 million people over the next few decades, it is likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than war.”

So, he knew all about it! Aha! Now Bill Gates is leading a class of global “elites” (below) and leading efforts to depopulate the world, a sort of Dr. Evil, with hair. His ‘vaccine’ has some tracking device that will be able to track us once we’ve been vaccinated. All this is a surprise to Bill Gates.

“I’m very surprised by the course of these conspiracy theories and of course the ones involving me are completely incorrect. I hadn’t been a part of conspiracy theories up until this and it’s ironic because I talked about the risk of a pandemic in 2015.”But he WOULD say that, wouldn’t he!”It is novel that you have a pandemic and you have social media, and somehow the true messages aren’t as titillating or as exciting as the conspiracy-type message.”

5G

Once a term referring to the fifth generation of mobile technology, the worldwide role out 5G somehow got wound into any number of conspiracy theories involving Covid-19 and the plandemic, sorry pandemic. Whilst most of us eagerly looked forward to the introduction of 2G,3 G and 4G, and the faster internet speeds and services, 5G came along at the same time as Covid-19. So OF COURSE they have something to do with each other.

No longer just a technology, 5G is now front and centre of any self respecting conspiracy theorist. Exposure to 5G antennas would give you Covid-19, apparently “altering your cells” in a way that was never quite explained, and WHAMMO, you had the coronavirus. That Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications giant, was behind some of the leading 5G technology, just added fuel to the story – they are a Chinese company so they MUST be spreading evil… and Covid-19.

Elites

1. a select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society.

Not any more. Once the so-called elite drove around, or were driven around, in their black Mercedes Benz, shopped at those stores on the first floors of fancy shopping centres and puffed cigars whilst counting their millions. Now the “Elite” are a secret society of people who are complicit in planning and carrying out the biggest hoax in history – the Covid-19 pandemic.

The “elite” have conspired with governments to keep us sheeple (yes YOU) in compliant control. Most governments find it difficult to role out stimulus payments and pick up the rubbish on time, let alone conspire to do anything in a secret, controlled manner. Any self-respecting elite usually does everything they can NOT to be involved in governments, anywhere.

The Great Reset

Not what we do to our computers after tearing our hair out for an hour. This baseless conspiracy theory, known as the ‘Great Reset’, claims a group of world leaders “orchestrated” and planned the pandemic to take control of the global economy.

The conspiracy theory has its origins in a genuine plan entitled ‘The Great Reset’, drawn up by the World Economic Forum – now used as somewhat thin ‘evidence’ that The Great Reset is true. The WEF is an annual conference for high-profile figures from politics and business.

The plan explores how countries might recover from the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic but has never mentioned any control or broader policy covering world populations.The recovery plan has now been interpreted as a sinister plan, first by fringes of the conspiracy theory networks and then taken up by conservative commentators and then shared around social media.

Do you have any other favourite theories that keep popping up, or new words to add to the list? Tell us below…

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

ASQ + Vaccine in Thailand proposal gets the thumbs down

The Thaiger

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ASQ + Vaccine in Thailand proposal gets the thumbs down | The Thaiger

OPINION

A spokesperson from a Thai tourism association came up with the “cunning idea” yesterday to propose a ASQ + Vaccine package to travellers and tourists. So not only do you get your 14 day mandatory quarantine at an expensive hotel in Bangkok, the opportunity to submit copious amounts of paperwork and drill through the red tape. NOW you get a jab of Covid-19 vaccine included. All for the all time low starting price of 150,000 baht. Read the original story HERE.

Bargain!

Of course The Thaiger readers and viewers raced to congratulate the rocket scientist who came up with this brilliant piece of tourist marketing. Suffice to say, it’s dead in the water even before the ambulance arrives…

Ron Rossington
Until the ditch the 14 day quarantine and end the ineffective lockdowns, Thailand will not get the tourist numbers they are in dire need of to stabilize the economy.

k tara
Another brilliant idea for tourists which will be dead on arrival. Do these people live in reality.

rickdangr
Tourism will NOT return until the 14 day quarantine is gone! Get the vaccine out to the Thai people, then start with allowing tourists in without quarantine, that have been vaccinated. This would be a smart way to open, and to get it done by April 1st, before the Songkran holiday.

Paul D
Hello Thaiger Team, the story with regards to vaccinations tagging on with the STV, seems to me as another of Thailands false hope stories. But I am sure the Government powers may have overlooked the strong suggestions many Airlines have voiced, “that no traveller will be allowed on the flight unless they have proof of vaccinations”. Even this is not 100% at this point. Some countries will not even allow their citizens to leave right now. I think the Thai government, even though are doing as much as they can right now, needs to not provide false hope to travellers at this point.

Energy3
another gimmick by thai officials – free vaccine with STV – sounds like you’re getting a happy meal with a free toy
Sai Sai
This is ridiculous!

Tyler Durden
These Thai officials need to wake up. The reason us tourists aren’t coming to Thailand is because of the 2 week quarantine, adding extra vaccination costs on top of an already expensive STV visa ain’t gonna get me over there that’s for sure. If these officials don’t drop the 2 week quarantine, there once popular visitors are going to be popular visitors elsewhere, as already I know many people traveling to South America.

And this gentlemen, J German, who went to all the trouble for little return…

I went to Bangkok in Dec. for the holidays. I did my 2 weeks of ASQ during which the shrimp market outbreak started. By the time I got out of quarantine, I had 4 nights of fun, but it was far from what the scene once was. I had a fun NYE, then it all got shut down. I went there to be in a country that was “safer” and not on lockdown. I lost that bet. Then Taiwan closed to international flights, cancelling my trip home. I got on the next plane to the US, leaving several weeks early so as not to get stuck there with nothing to do. My advice is, don’t waste your money or your time (like I did) until vaccinations are widely distributed and quarantines are over.

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