Connect with us


Battling mob mentality

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Though blockades, protests and other forms of mob rule appear to be an effective way for local Phuket villagers to kick-start official action, justice eventually catches up with the instigators, says Teenachat Jindangen, Commanding General of the 41st Military Circle.

The commander’s comments come fast on the heels of an unprecedented riot and attack on the Thalang Police Station and closure of Thepkrasattri Road on October 10. About 20 police officers were injured and more than 6 million baht worth of damage was done, as hundreds of rioters set fire to police vehicles and bombarded the station with bricks and rocks.

The catalysts for the violence were the deaths of suspected drug dealers Patomwat Panarak, 22, and Teerapong Srisamut, 17, who died in a police chase after allegedly refusing to be searched at a checkpoint.

Protesters claimed that the 50 pills of ya ba (methamphetamine) and one kilogram of kratom leaves in the young men’s bags had been planted by the police. The allegation was vehemently denied by Provincial Police Commander Patchara Boonyasit.

“Though the riots yielded immediate results with the Ministry of Interior demanding an investigation into allegations of excessive force by the four officers who crashed into the fleeing men, we would have conducted a fair investigation ourselves,” Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada told the Phuket Gazette last Wednesday. “Now, we will not only ensure that this matter will be looked into, but we will also hunt down those who helped turn the peaceful protest into a violent riot, damaging Phuket’s international reputation.”

The deaths of Mr Patomwat and Mr Teerapong were most likely used as a cover by criminal teenagers in the local community to take revenge on police, said Maj Gen Patchara early last week. As of Wednesday, police had identified at least nine instigators, but had yet to seek arrest warrants.

However, the devastation of the lives lost and the parents’ fear of police inaction was very real, assured Governor Chamroen, who had negotiated with the parents and reached an understanding with them hours before the protesters turned violent.

“I understand that sometimes people feel they have nowhere to go but the streets to seek justice,” Gov Chamroen said. However, the need for this does not justify closing down major roadways or violence, he noted.

“Local people must change their mentality about the effectiveness of using violence to get their demands met. Think about what will happen to your family if you get arrested,” Gov Chamroen said.

“If you look back at previous protest instigators on the island, you will see that all of their leaders were arrested and charged for their crimes.”

Arrest warrants were issued for 10 people behind the March 4 blockade of the Patong Police Station. The more than 200 tuk-tuk-driving protesters who were shutting down the party town, an essential revenue stream for the province, demanded that the Patong Police Superintendent be transferred (story here).

Col Chiraphat Pochanaphan was quickly transferred to defuse the situation. A short time later, he resumed his position as the top cop in Patong.

Then in April that year, an angry mob shut down Thepkrasattri Road when villagers realized that police would not be bringing the twin brothers who had raped a pregnant 25-year-old woman to the scene of the crime for a reenactment (story here).

Somsak Pasarnphan, 41, was one of 10 suspects wanted for their role in organizing the blockade. He surrendered to Tah Chat Chai Police but denied his involvement.

A similar, peaceful road blockade took place that same month on Chao Fa West Road. It was only broken after the Phuket governor at the time agreed to have short-term safety measures installed at the dangerous ‘100 bodies curve’ within five days (story here).

A few months later, police hit the streets armed with arrest warrants for 23 people involved in the protest.

Sirichai Saengprichakul, 42, who turned himself in, apologized for his part in the protest. However, he pointed out that the community needed to gain the attention of the authorities.

“That curve was very dangerous. A lot of people have been killed there,” Mr Sirichai said at the time. “We blocked the road to get attention from the authorities. I did not expect to be arrested for it.”

Though the violence at Thalang Police Station was unprecedented in Phuket, prior to the National Council of Peace and Order taking over, blockades were clearly being used by different communities on the island to get their way.

Maj Gen Teenachat Jindangen explained that the number one goal of any military or government agency confronted by protesters, violent or non-violent, is to defuse the situation, which often means making immediate concessions.

“Once we are able to break up a protest or riot, we can start searching for a real solution to the issue,” Gen Teenachat said.

“Our number one priority is to assure that our officers do not use any form of violence against the protesters.

“The protesters may get what they want. However, they are breaking the law and will be punished.”

The Public Assembly Act of 2015 forbids people from blocking the entrance or exit of a government office or disrupting the work being conducted at the facility. Those found guilty of doing so face a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment, a 10,000 baht fine, or both.

Those seeking justice against officials or government offices should first present their cases to the Damrongdhama Center (ombudsman’s office) at Phuket Provincial Hall, Gov Chamroen explained.

“I am making changes to the work flow at the center and have asked the Public Prosecutor’s Office to review all cases that have eventually led to protests on the island,” Gov Chamroen said.

Damrongdhama Center Chief Prapan Kanprasang assured the Gazette that his office would seek justice for those who file a complaint.

“There are many ways to seek justice. Please follow a path that is within the law. Riots and protests, especially ones that cause harm to others, will not yield real results,” Mr Prapan said.

Those wanting to file a complaint can do so in person at Provincial Hall; send the complaint by mail to the Damrongdhama Center, Phuket Provincial Hall 5 Narisorn Road, Talad Yai, Muang Phuket 83000; or call 076-213203.

“Blockades, protests and riots can cause a great deal of harm to Phuket – not only to the local community, but to our image internationally. Our officers acted with restraint last Saturday, as they refused to fight violence with violence,” Gov Chamroen said.

“I do not want to see another blockade or protest on this island. If you are unable to get justice through local officials or even the Damrongdhama Center, come talk to me – let me bear the burden of your need for justice. Every problem has a solution.”

— Chutharat Plerin


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Expats2 hours ago

List: China has over 50% of all foreign-owned condos in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Government plans 10 million vaccines for July

World7 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Vaccine deaths investigation, PM heads to Phuket, BMA extends vendor licences | June 18

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Thailand8 hours ago

1 million AstraZeneca doses arrive, Anutin says “more” on the way

Drugs8 hours ago

1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine and heroin seized near Malaysian border

Coronavirus (Covid-19)8 hours ago

Pattaya bars plead for government help

Thailand8 hours ago

Colour-coded zoning revised, restrictions to ease nationwide

Transport9 hours ago

Department of Land Transport will reopen, issue licenses

Best of9 hours ago

Top 8 Things to do in Chiang Mai

Tourism9 hours ago

Krabi schedules 82 flights per week from late October

Best of10 hours ago

Top 6 Online Forums in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Friday Covid Update: 3,058 new cases; provincial totals

Thailand10 hours ago

Worker falls off roof in Chon Buri, sustains multiple injuries

Phuket10 hours ago

Talad Kaset market in Phuket reopens

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

PM Prayut tests negative after parliament maid has Covid-19

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8