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Five arrested over attack on Kedah royal family bodyguard

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Five arrested over attack on Kedah royal family bodyguard | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Police today arrested five men for the attack on a Kedah royal family bodyguard at a high-end resort in Patong just after midnight on Tuesday.

Four of the men, including three Malaysians, were arrested while trying to exit Thailand at the busy Sadao checkpoint in Songkhla province.

The first arrest was made at a rented house in Sikao District in Trang province, south of Phuket.

Prakorn Leesopa, 32, from Phattalung, was taken into custody after a manhunt sweeping across Southern Thailand was launched following the attack on Mohd Sobri Bin Said, 53.

Mr Said was one of the bodyguards accompanying Kedah Council of Regency chairman Tan Sri Tunku Annuar Sultan Badlishah during his stay in Phuket at the Millennium Resort Patong hotel.

In his statement to police, Mr Prakorn said he received a call on Tuesday night from his older brother Sakorn Srisopha, 34, asking him to drive to him to Patong.

He was to be paid be 5,000 baht just to drive.

“Sakorn and three Malaysian men arrived at my house in Trang in a pickup truck. When we arrived at the hotel in Patong, the three Malaysian men collected a room access key card from the reception desk, then all five of us went upstairs to the room,” he said.

When the men entered the room, they grabbed Mr Said, tied his hands, sat him in a chair and began to hit him, Mr Prakorn said.

“One of the Malaysian men pushed me into the bathroom and locked me in there so I couldn’t see what was going on,” he told police.

“I heard the men searching for something in the room and asking about a passport and mobile phone,” he added.

About five minutes later, Mr Prakorn was let out of the bathroom and escorted downstairs and out of the hotel, he said.

“They brought me all the way back to my house in Sikao. Someone else drove. The long-haired Malaysian man gave me 5,000 baht and then they left,” he said.

Mr Prakorn protested his innocence in the crime.

“I had never seen the three men before. If I knew they were going to attack a VIP [sic] I wouldn’t have taken any part in it,” he said.

Lt Thawatchai Srimai of the Patong Police, who responded to the report of the attack on Tuesday night, confirmed that initially only four men were wanted for the attack after questioning the bodyguard, Mr Said, at Patong Hospital.

“Mr Said was covered in blood from a head injury and covered with bruises,” said Lt Thawatchai.

Mr Said told police he had received a tip-off about the attack and switched rooms in order to protect Tunku Annuar.

Tunku Annuar and his party booked more than 10 rooms at the hotel when they checked in on Monday.

“They used a key card to enter the room and waited for Tunku Annuar,” Lt Thawatchai said.

“When Mr Said entered the room, they grabbed him by the throat and threatened him with a knife. They used electric wire to tie his hands, hit him with a hard object on the head and beat him,” he added.

Following the arrests today, Provincial Police Commander Choti Chavalviwat confirmed to the Phuket Gazette that Mr Prakorn has been charged with gang robbery.

“The total value of items reported stolen is about 42,000 baht. Seized as evidence today were 14,660 baht and 640 Ringgit in cash, a passport, a Malaysian ID card, an ATM card and an iPhone 5,” he added.

Following the arrest of Mr Prakorn in Trang, Patong Police Superintendent Chiraphat Pochanaphan this afternoon said that the four other suspects, including Mr Sakorn, were arrested today in Sadao.

Capt Opas Chaiboon of the Sikao Police confirmed that all four arrested in Sadao have also been charged with gang robbery.

Police have yet to release the names of the three Malaysian men involved in the attack.

A source told the Gazette that the men were already known to hotel staff as part of the security personnel who checked in with Tunku Annuar.

The source said the incident was an “internal affair that will be dealt with when they return to Malaysia.”

Phuket Police have yet to confirm or deny this.

Tunku Annuar and his party checked out of the hotel today.

In its statement to the Gazette, the Millennium Resort Patong said: “An incident involving a guest occurred in one of the hotel rooms on 28 May 2013 at the Millennium Resort Patong Phuket. Hotel staff immediately rendered assistance upon the alert.

“The guest was taken to the hospital and has been treated. The hotel is doing its utmost to offer assistance to the guest. No one else was affected, and the hotel assures all guests that business is as usual.”

Additional reporting by Kritsada Mueanhawong

— Thawit Bilabdullar

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Crime

Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Newshawk Phuket

Drugs valued at 15 million baht have been seized in a drug crackdown in Phuket. On October 22, Phuket police, along with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, reported to the media about a drug crackdown that ended up with a total seizure valued around 15 million baht.

Earlier, the police received a report from an undercover agent that a woman named ‘Ying’ or ‘Suthicha Thirawut’ was a local drug dealer trading drugs in Phuket area, so police planned to purchase drugs from the woman. They contacted Ying through another woman named ‘Noina’, Ying’s close friend. Around 10pm on October 20, police bought 1 gram of crystal methamphetamine from Noina before arresting Ying and another man, Thanet Thongtan, at the Naka Condominium.

The two confessed that they receive the drug from a man who they weren’t able to name, in order to sell in Phuket. They were paid 40,000 – 50,000 baht per time and admitted to police that they have done this for the man three times already. This time, the drugs hadn’t been sold to customers as they were arrested before being able to make a sale.

Apart from 2.4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, valued around 4.8 million baht, the police also discovered 76,800 methamphetamine pills, worth around 11 million baht.

The three are now assisting Phuket police with their enquires related to the case.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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