Mayor denies he staged shooting

PATONG: The Mayor of Patong, Surasak Maneesri, today shrugged off allegations that he had staged Sunday’s assassination attempt on him in a bid to garner sympathy votes for the upcoming mayoral election. He also said it was not the first time that someone had paid to have him shot. In a previous incident, he explained, a gunman who was about to shoot him backed off when K. Surasak paid him money not to. The allegation that K. Suarasak staged Sunday’s shooting came from his archrival, the former Mayor of Patong, Pian Keesin. K. Pian told the Gazette today that he thought the shooting incident looked “strange”. “I have analyzed what he has been doing,” said K. Pian. K. Surasak’s strategy for staying in power in next November’s mayoral elections had three elements, he alleged: getting people from other provinces onto house registrations in Patong in return for their votes; paying cash for votes; and building a sympathetic image. “I think the shooting incident was staged. If someone really wanted to assassinate him, he would have been dead with the first bullet,” said the ex-Mayor. “I’ve never bought a gun in my life,” he added, “but go and ask the new Mayor how many guns he has. Or you can check at the District Office.” Mayor Surasak responded, “My team is ready [for the election], all the members of my party are ready, and we have more support [than K. Pian]. “We don’t have any problems, so why should I stage a fake shooting? I don’t have – and I have never had – any conflicts in business with anyone. I don’t have any problems with K. Pian other than over what happened in the council [last October, when K. Pian was ousted from the Mayor’s chair]. “I respect K. Pian and I am not angry about what he says because it’s not true and the police will soon find the suspect. “Why should I hire my own people to shoot me? It will cost me 200,000 baht to fix my car, so why should I go to all this trouble for a hoax? “I was told by a reporter that someone went to Siang Tai and Khao Sot [newspapers] with a briefcase full of money to try to persuade them to run a story that I faked the shooting. “Even the Governor laughed when he heard the rumors. Who would be mad enough to do such a thing? “I have many friends who are police officers and they warned me before it happened that there were people – gunmen – following me. “Once before, a gunman was going shoot me but I paid him off, so he let me live.” Mayor Surasak had a meeting with Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi this afternoon in which he asked the Governor to personally oversee the investigation of the shooting. The Governor said after the meeting, “The Special Purposes Unit will be joining the investigation to find out who committed this act. We are confident that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.”

Phuket News
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