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Battling mob mentality

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Battling mob mentality | The Thaiger

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

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

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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