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Masseuse fire attacker out of prison

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Masseuse fire attacker out of prison | The Thaiger

PATONG: The man who set alight a beach masseuse at Loma Park last year returned to the scene of his crime yesterday morning, where he was immediately assaulted by the victim’s father and brother. The attack was quickly stopped by Kathu Police, who released the pair after fining them 500 baht each.

Few Gazette readers will forget the horrific tale of young Saijai Phromdaen, whose life was forever changed in mid-February last year when she was doused with paint thinner and set on fire by 53-year-old Somwan Kaewkhaaw [formerly reported as Sombun Kaewkhaaw, age 53], a glue-addicted vagrant from Chumphon’s Muang District.

Ms Saijai, 21 at the time of the attack, underwent a series of skin grafts and spent many months in hospital. Sadly, despite best efforts by doctors and funds raised from Gazette readers, she was left with permanently disfiguring scars on her face and arms.

(Click here and here for our original reports.)

Yesterday morning, the Gazette was contacted by Saijai’s mother Pennee, who was at Kathu Police Station with her husband Damnern Phromdaen and their son Anurak, Ms Saijai’s older brother.

The pair had assaulted Somwan with punches and strikes with a beach umbrella at about 8 am. The incident was recorded in the Kathu Police daily log, but no criminal charges were filed.

Somwan, this time the victim, was struck in the head, right arm and right leg before police broke up the fracas.

Mr Anurak told the Gazette he had noticed Somwan walking around Loma Park earlier that morning and told police that it was not safe to let a madman like Somwan walk about in a public area.

Loma Park, with its trademark dolphin sculptures and children’s playground, is probably the most famous tourist attraction in Patong after Soi Bangla, home of the island’s nightlife entertainment scene.

Mr Anurak said the assault was motivated by sheer anger and frustration that the police allowed him to stroll around the area freely.

I could never forgive that madman for the rest of my life, after what he did to my sister; I couldn’t control my emotions. It tortures me every time I think about what he did to my sister. It is like a bad dream that never ends. Her husband has left her because she isn’t attractive anymore, and now nobody will give her a job. She can no longer live like a normal person,” he said.

No longer able to work as a masseuse, Ms Saijai now helps her mother selling drinks to tourists in the same area where she was burned. She now has to be careful to keep her skin covered at all times, to protect against both solar radiation and curious stares.

I need the police or some other kind of government officer to keep people like this from public areas, where their inability to control themselves poses a danger to others,” Mr Anurak said.

Kathu Police Duty Inspector Lt Col Sophon Borrirak, who was in charge of the criminal case against Somwan, had earlier informed him (Anurak) that Somwan was found guilty by the Phuket Provincial Court of attempted murder and was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the attack on his sister, Mr Anurak said.

Lt Col Sophon told the Gazette that it was likely that Somwan had already served his sentence and been released as a free man, but that fact could only be confirmed by the court and prison system.

The Gazette has been unable to confirm the exact date of his release with either the Phuket Court or Phuket Prison.

Saijai’s mother said police had earlier shown her the results of a psychiatric evaluation that concluded her daughter’s attacker was mentally sound to stand trial.

But we are not happy to see him back in the same area where he lit my daughter on fire,” she said.

After Ms Saijai’s father and brother paid their fines and were released, Somwan stayed behind at the station. He was later released, as police had no legal means of detaining him.

Police initially told the Gazette they would call “a unit of a government agency” to come and take care of him, but did not specify which one.

Also at the station was Ms Saijai, now 23.

Through tears brought on by the sight of her attacker, she said, “I’m fine, but I worry about my daughter Ice, who is now four years old. She always asks me when I will get better and if my scars will disappear. It hurts me every time.”

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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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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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