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Activist injured, Governor slams “gangsterism”

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Activist injured, Governor slams “gangsterism” | Thaiger

PA KHLOK: The new Governor of Phuket has warned that he will confront gangsterism in the province after an environmental activist was critically injured in what appears to have been an assassination attempt. The activist, Siripoj Cheechang, 35, was run over by a pick-up truck that knocked him off his motorcycle, and then turned around and ran over him. Visiting Siripoj in hospital today, Governor Pongpayome Vasaputi, who arrived in Phuket on Saturday, said, “The thing I hate most is gangsterism and lawlessness. When I was in Narathiwat, there was also this kind of situation. “K. Siripoj is fighting for our environment, and protecting the environment is one of my priorities. Anyone who tries to do anything against the environment will be against me as well. “We will do everything we can about this case, though it must all be done according to the rules of evidence and truth.” K. Siripoj, who is a member of the Tambon Pa Khlok Administrative Council (OrBorTor) in Thalang, and managing editor of the local Thai newspaper “Andaman Post”, was on his way to work by motorcycle with his niece, Wanna Petyawa, 18, on the back. According to K. Wanna, when the two were in front of the Sitthi Soonthornbumrung School in Pa Khlok, a pickup truck crashed into the back of their motorbike, knocking both of them to the ground. The pickup went past, then turned around and ran over K Siripoj. “I was only slightly injured on my knees, face and arms. Someone shouted, ‘The car’s turning around.’ I ran to the side of the road, but my uncle was still lying in the road because his head had hit the ground and he was unconscious. “The pickup truck accelerated and ran over Uncle Siripoj’s left leg. Then it sped off,” K. Wanna said. Pol Capt Suwarit Prommul of Thalang Police Station said that two hours after the incident, Buncha Noppawong, 34, from Songkhla, a prawn farm worker, turned himself in to the police. Buncha admitted that he was the driver of the pick-up and said that he ran over the victim a second time because he was frightened and did not know what else to do. Siripoj’s wife Ampai said her husband had been in a dispute with a big investor over incursion into protected mangrove swamps. Jakrapan Kankanok, a close friend and fellow member of the Pa Klock OrBorTor, said that he and Siripoj were working together to save 600 rai of mangroves from incursion by an investor who wanted to occupy the land and establish a tiger prawn farm. K. Siripoj had tried to prevent the incursion by reporting it to the Phuket Provincial Forestry Office, to police in Thalang, and to journalists. He also published stories about it in his newspaper. “Several days ago, Siripoj told me that a Mercedes Benz tried to run over him. When he went to investigate the land, he saw the same car parked inside. He also heard gunfire,” said K Jakrapan. Today, members of the Phuket Reporters’ Club protested about the incident to the new Governor, and urged him to ensure that a thorough investigation takes place. They also demanded that the press receive daily updates on the case. The Governor told K. Ampai that he would do his best to help, and assured her she need not fear “mafia” people. Dr Niran Taweekul, a neurosurgeon at Wachira Phuket Hospital, told the Gazette this afternoon that K. Siripoj has improved, but that he is still in critical condition. “The patient sometimes moves his hands, but he is in a coma and still needs to be on the respirator. He is suffering from bleeding and contusions in his brain. There is also a very large wound on his thigh. “We will know in about four days whether he will survive.”

 

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