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Children of murdered bar hostess to receive scholarship funds

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Children of murdered bar hostess to receive scholarship funds | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The two young children of Wanphen Pienjai, the Phuket bar hostess murdered by American Ron Fanelli, have been accepted into the Scholarship Program of the Rotary Club of Patong Beach (RCPB) and will receive financial support on an ongoing basis.

Meanwhile, Wanphen’s mother, Sa-ard Maliwan, 59, has told the Phuket Gazette that she gave 5,000 baht of the 20,000 baht in donations raised through the newspaper’s website (for immediate funeral expenses) to the family’s local temple in Petchaboon, where her daughter’s ashes are now kept.

“I received 20,000 baht on Tuesday [July 20] and I donated 5,000 baht for building a section of temple wall. Wanphen’s ashes arrived on Thursday and they will be put in the temple. The rest of the money will be kept for the children,” said Mrs Sa-ard.

Wanphen’s body was cremated in Phuket on July 14.

She was murdered on June 18 and her remains were discovered in a suitcase in a remote area off Chao Fa Thani Rd, on June 24.

Reached by telephone to her home late last week, Mrs Sa-ard said, “I haven’t seen the guy [Fanelli] yet, but people have called me and asked how such a handsome man could be so cruel. I am happy the police caught him, but I still feel very sad at losing my daughter. Nothing can ever bring her back.”

“Normally, Wanphen sent us money. I don’t know who else can support us now. She was the only one who gave us hope and now she is dead.

“She was my only daughter. Her ex-husband knows what happened, but never came to visit. He probably has a new family already,” she added.

Wanphen, who used to work in Pattaya, was last at the family home in April this year, just before her move to Phuket.

Mrs Sa-ard described her daughter as a straight-talking person, loyal and generous, always inviting neighbors to join them for dinner. “She was kind and never abandoned me,” said Mrs Sa-ard, who is blind in one eye.

“My left eye is blind because I fell into a fire when I was one year old. I didn’t get any treatment because the village was in a remote, rural area back then,” she explained.

To earn at least some money Mrs Sa-ard has a part-time job cutting grass.

She also now takes care of Wanphen’s two orphaned children: a boy nicknamed Iang who is in sixth grade at Ban Nong Bua Thong School, and his sister Farm, age three.

“The older child knows his mother is dead, but the little one doesn’t realize it yet. I haven’t told her because she hasn’t asked.

“Iang hasn’t said anything about it. Farm just thinks her mom is off working. Sometimes when women walk past our home she [Farm] yells out how happy she is that her mom has finally come home,” Mrs Sa-ard said.

Readers wishing to make donations to the Rotary Club of Patong Beach can be made to the following account:

Rotary Club of Patong Beach Charity Account
Siam Commercial Bank
46/3 Chao Fah Rd
T. Taladneung, A. Muang
Phuket Thailand 83000
Account: 633-2-49363-2
SWIFT: SICOTHBK
Phone: 076-222010

For further details about the RCPB’s Scholarship Program, click here.

— Atchaa Khamlo & Stephen Fein

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

Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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