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A Muslim voice lost in translation

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SPECIAL REPORT

PHUKET: Seven banners have appeared in Rawai in front of Muslim shops, houses and even a mosque. The English words dominating the banners are jarring to many. However, the Thai translation and the meaning behind the signs tells a very different story. The Phuket Gazette‘s Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai reports.

The signs appeared overnight in a Rawai Muslim community with script reading in three languages: Arabic, Thai and English.

The subtlety and nuances of words has always taken certain artistry to accurately capture an idea, a feeling or a reaction. Nowhere is a deep understanding of the nuisance of tone needed more than when translating sensitive text, be it personal, political or religious.

However, the English message on the sign reads: ‘THIS COMMUNITY WOULD LIKE TO CONDEMN TO THE GROUP OF THE PERSON WHO LOOK DOWN !! TO THE ISLAM RELIGION.’

However, an accurate translation from the Thai written on the banner reads closer to, “This community appeals for the admonishment of people who destroy our religion.”

“The person who made these signs does live in our community,” said Imam Pramote Chockgua, who heads the Masjid Nuruddee Neeyah in Rawai and has one of the seven banners in front of his mosque. “He consulted with us before printing them and posting them in the community. I told him that it was okay to make them as long as they don’t cause any harm,”

Imam Pramote said that the signs had nothing to do with the recent Arab Spring, confirming that they were in protest of the misinterpretation of Muslims in the recent YouTube film Innocence of Muslims, which has been a catalyst for violent attacks on American nationals and interests across the world.

“The images in the movie made Muslims look really bad. If we just ignore it, it would be like admitting that the movie’s portrayal of us was accurate. That is why the signs were made, to show that we disagree with the movie’s content,” he explained.

“We are living in a democratic country and have the right to express our opinion. We don’t want anyone to treat us differently or unfairly,” he added.

However, Imam Pramote was concerned about the tone of the English words on the sign, which is harsher than what is written in Arabic and Thai.

“When the person who made the signs came to talk with us, we all helped him put the words together. Arabic and Thai are our native languages, but we didn’t have any language experts to help us with the English, which is probably why it is a bit too strong.

“We don’t really know the hidden meanings of the words in English. We just looked them up in a Thai-English dictionary and used whatever words came up,” he admitted.

“I had no idea that the English meaning was so strong and maybe considered offensive,” he added.

Imam Pramote explained that he had no desire to cause additional conflicts with the signs, but rather wanted to protect the dignity of the Muslims in the community.

IN THE PUBLIC EYE
A restaurant across from the large Tesco Lotus south of Chalong Circle has one of the seven posters over its entrance. The Gazette tried to interviewed several people at Tesco Lotus, in clear sight of the sign.

Three of them declined to comment on the issue.

However, Esa Boonmalert, a 44-year-old Muslim living in Rawai, explained that it was a personal right to hang the signs, but for him the best way to combat the portrayal of Muslims in the film was simply to be a good, faithful Muslim.

“Though the moviemakers created negative images of Muslims, I still don’t consider them bad people. They are just ignorant of what Islam really is. What is worse are Muslims that don’t practice their own religion,” Mr Esa said.

“Those who don’t really understand Muslim principles are not the ones who should be blamed. Muslims that ignore all the principles and practices are really the ones destroying our religion.

“I have seen many Muslims in other countries strike back violently, and I personally think it was the wrong reaction.

“The best way to solve the problem would be to educate the filmmakers and allow them to apologize,” he told the Phuket Gazette.

An expat also living in the Rawai area, though concerned about the signs, agreed with Mr Esa that the community had the right to hang them.

“It is their right to show how they feel about the issue. If I was them, I would do the same thing,” she admitted.

“However, for me, the best way to make this controversy stop is to keep quiet and let the issue slowly dissolve with time. This whole situation can be compared to a fire. If we don’t put any more fuel onto it, the fire will eventually stop burning,” she said.

“I am not scared about an uprising or anything like that here in Phuket, because the Muslims here are peaceful people,” she added.

ANOTHER VIEW
Imam Aree Samard, who heads the Baan Borrae Masjid and is also the president of Phuket Muslim Relations Association, explained to the Gazette why the signs had not appeared in his community on Phuket.

“It is their right to put up the signs, but we are not doing anything like that in our area (Baan Borrae),” Imam Aree said.

“We had a meeting regarding the issue with Muslims living in other Phuket communities, and agreed that we wouldn’t do any more than we had already done,” he explained.

About a month ago, representatives of each mosque in Phuket visited the US Embassy in Bangkok to file a letter making it clear that they disagreed with the film and would like to see the US Embassy take some sort of remedial action.

“I really saw no point of doing anything else that might cause more conflict,” he added.

After hearing some of the feedback and concern about the signs, Imam Pramote told the Gazette that he now planned to discuss the tone of the translation with the Masjid’s committee and that he was considering making some changes.

“I’m against any slander against any religion. One time I saw a story in the news about a woman who was taking inappropriate pictures of a Buddha statue, and even though I am not Buddhist I was angry about it. It was wrong, and it shouldn’t have happened.

“There are all kinds of people living in our community – Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Bhramins.

“We live together peacefully and in harmony. Each person practices what they believe in, and we always help each other for special events like weddings or funerals,” Imam Pramote added.

— Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai

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Tourism

Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs | The Thaiger

Phuket Airport is officially ready for tourists as authorities say they have finished installing Covid screening labs in an effort to welcome international travellers. The 5T Model for Covid-19 is being used at the airport with the goal of screening large groups of people in a quick and efficient manner. The Phuket health chief says the 5T’s stand for Target, Testing, Treating, Trusting and Tracing.

Phuket has one large airport at the north end of the island but is separated into two separate terminals – a domestic terminal (the original airport terminal), and a new international terminal opened in 2016.

The target category refers to the target groups of tourists while the tracing stands for software that will be used to monitor their movements. The testing category refers to Covid tests that will be implemented to travellers upon arrival along with the treatment and trust categories signifying the readiness of resources for medical treatment and confident communications between all parties respectively.

The Covid-19 lab container module has been set up at Phuket airport’s Terminal X (the terminal opened for charter flights opened in 2014) and will be tested tomorrow with its operation to start on September 30. As large groups of tourists could arrive (later in the year, the lab is reportedly capable of testing 96 people at a time with test results becoming available in 6 hours. What the airport would do withe tested passengers whilst waiting for 6 hours, has not been detailed at this stage.

Such a readiness plan to welcome foreign tourists originally singled out Phuket due to its popularity with travellers, and as a so-called guinea pig model to test in a controlled environment (Phuket is an island joined to the Thai mainland by a single 300 metre road bridge). Once dubbed the Phuket Model, authorities have proposed to rename the plan to “Special Tourist Visa” due to the confusion and opposition it reportedly caused. The scheme is reportedly now being proposed for all areas of Thailand but only allowing foreigners from specific countries.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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Politics

Phuket’s Sri Panwa Resort’s land title deed to be investigated for legality by DSI

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket’s Sri Panwa Resort’s land title deed to be investigated for legality by DSI | The Thaiger

Back in the news again. Phuket’s Sri Panwa Resort’s land title deed is now to be investigated by the Department of Special Investigation after a petition was filed to determine whether the deed was procured legally. Veera Somkwamkid, the secretary-general of the People’s Network Against Corruption, filed the petition along with 167 pages of documents pertaining to his accusations that Thawatchai Anukun, a land fraud suspect, had unlawfully issued land title deeds to plots of land in Phuket before he mysteriously died in a detention room while in DSI custody in 2016.

He was allegedly being investigated for falsifying land deeds between the years of 1998 and 2001. Veera claims before the title deed was issued on the plot, the land was part of a forest known by locals as Pa Kae.

“Back then, 10 families that had occupied the plots for about 40 years had title deed requests rejected. The reason given was the land was part of a forest reserve used by the navy.”

However, Watchara Buathong, Phuket’s current land official, says the Sri Panwa resort had legally acquired its 56-rai, none of which was ever state land. Local resident Khwanjai Khumban, backed this claim, saying her father and cousins had sold most of the land to the resort, and she could produce documents to account for at least 12 rai of the disputed area.

Phuket's Sri Panwa Resort's land title deed to be investigated for legality by DSI | News by The Thaiger

Meanwhile, the Social Security Office, is also under fireas it is being asked to explain why it invested in the hotel’s trust fund. The department, which is under Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, in which its minister says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built and points to the responsibility to the DSI to investigate. This was echoed by at least one opposition MP and anti-corruption activists.

The hotel, situated on Cape Panwa, in Phuket’s Muang district, has been under recent scrutiny due to its owner, Vorasit Issara, accusing Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, a co-leader of the anti-government United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration group, of offending the monarchy at last weekend’s protest at Sanam Luang.

Vorasit posted on Instagram that Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul should be jailed, further falsely claiming that she is not Thai when, in fact, Panusaya was found to have been born in Nonthaburi and is a Thai citizen.

“This bullshit has got to stop. She is not Thai. Who is she working for? This one needs to be in prison”.

Such a statement has received wide backlash from netizens with some taking to Trip Advisor and other websites to post bad reviews of the resort, prompting it to suspend advertising on such sites.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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Phuket

Female prisoner on the run after escaping from Phuket Hospital

The Thaiger

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Female prisoner on the run after escaping from Phuket Hospital | The Thaiger

A female prisoner is on the run after escaping from Vachira Hospital in Phuket during a doctor’s appointment. 58 year old Siri Phodam allegedly escaped after asking her prison escort officer to use the toilet. But she took a long time to come back, and was found to have escaped. CCTV cameras caught her dressed in a blue hospital patient shirt and a sarong leaving the hospital quickly. A Phuket prison officer says the woman is 158 centimetres tall and has dark skin.

“Some of our own officers are searching for her, and we have also sent the prisoner’s description to all Phuket police stations. However, at this stage we have not found any clues.

Female prisoner on the run after escaping from Phuket Hospital | News by The Thaiger

“If anyone finds a person matching the prisoner’s appearance, please inform us by calling 076 212 104.”

Siri was imprisoned after being charged with posessing illegal drugs and lived in Moo 2, Rawai.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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