Phuket Gazette partner journalist shot in Bangkok

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PHUKET: Chaiwat Phumpuang, a photo-journalist in the Nation/Gazette news pool, has become the latest victim of the protest violence in Bangkok.

The award-winning lensman, who has covered many political crises, was shot in the leg while recording the demonstrations in the military’s “live firing zone” last night.

A bullet smashed into a bone in Mr Chaiwat’s leg and he ended up in Phya Thai 1 hospital. He had just returned to work a few weeks ago after suffering partial paralysis.

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He had to undergo an operation last night, but “Mai pen rai (never mind),” Chaiwat told friends who visited him at the hospital this morning.

“He was sitting beside me at the corner of a building when the bullet hit him. We couldn’t move at first because the gunfire was still going on,” a colleague said later.

Chaiwat is the fourth journalist casualty in the latest protest rampage. On Friday, three journalists – from Matichon, France 24, and Voice TV – were wounded in clashes between government forces and protesters.

The Nation/Gazette news pool is a joint reporting force for sharing breaking news in Phuket and Bangkok.

The Nation Multimedia Group owns 19% of the Phuket Gazette, and their respective newspapers, including the Thai-language Kom Chad Luek and business daily Krungthep Turakij, entered into an editorial sharing agreement in January 2000.

Phuket hotel construction delayed

Bangkok Post
MBK Plc, operator of the MBK shopping center in Bangkok, says it will put off new hotel projects in Phuket and Samui, worth from 2-3 billion baht, for one year.

MBK will instead focus on expansion of existing property projects and community malls to reduce risks amid Thailand’s political uncertainty.

The company says the prolonged demonstrations have so far cut visitors to its flagship shopping center, located near the center of the Bangkok protests, by 20% from the normal rate of 100,000 a day.

Once the demonstrations end, MBK says it will take about one year to re-activate its Phuket and Samui hotel projects.

South Africans still in Phuket

The Times Online
Bangkok hotel occupancies have dropped to ten percent and the hospitality industry has been forced to slash prices. Even The Peninsula hotel, twice voted the best in the world, has cut prices from R2,500 (10,700 baht, or $330) to R1,500 (6,400 baht, or $198) a night.

In Phuket, where the vast majority of Thais strongly support the ruling government and there is ‘no chance’ of any political disturbance, the hotels and resorts are doing far better.

The number of South Africans visiting Phuket appears to have remained fairly steady. Hotels popular among South African visitors say they have a significant number of visitors from that country currently visiting the island.

And they say the number is likely to increase next month due to special rates being offered to commemorate the relaunch of Thai Airways flights between Johannesburg and Bangkok, despite the fact that passengers arriving in Bangkok need to change planes there to get to Phuket.

Phuket turtle race

The Nation
Phuket’s Maikhao Beach is holding its annual Mini Marathon & Fun Run on May 23 to raise funds for the care of sea turtles at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

There’s a 10.5-kilometer mini-marathon (registration costs 250 baht) and a 3.5km Fun Run (200 baht).

Registration starts at 4.30am with the race kicking off at 6am from Pru Jeh San Lake.

Both fees include a T-shirt and the chance to win trophies, medals and lucky draw prizes.

For more details of this and all other Phuket events (and Thai public holidays), see the Phuket Gazette‘s online Events Calendar.

— Gazette Editors

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