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Phuket mob attack on police yields results

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Tension between police and local residents in Phuket province that escalated into a riot at a local police station on Saturday evening appeared to ease after an inquiry panel was formed to look into the death of two young men during a police pursuit.

Police representatives met with families and relatives of Pathomwat Panarak, 22 and a 17-year-old teen, whose name was withheld, at a school yesterday with a military officer as a mediator. The meeting was held under a tense environment as supporters of the pair gathered around the venue, occasionally booing and jeering.

The meeting was held after local residents, including families of both victims, rallied in front of Thalang police station, angry over the death of the pair. They claimed police, without solid evidence, used excessive action on the young victims who allegedly refused to be searched and rode off on a motorbike from a police checkpoint.

Dozens of vehicles parked at the police station were burnt and police buildings damaged during the clash that involved hundreds of residents and officials on Saturday night and early yesterday. Four police involved in the case were transferred out of the area at about midnight on Saturday.

Suksri Kaentakian, mother of the teenage victim, said that if her son was involved in drugs, her family would certainly be very rich. “Police involved in the death of my son should be fired from the service and face legal action like ordinary people. I cannot accept that the incident came to an end after the involved police were simply transferred out of the area.”

Thaweesit Panarak, father of the 22-year-old, wept and said he had only one son. He admitted that his son used to use crystal meth or ‘ya ice‘ and was in jail. “I don’t think that my son would have had narcotics, as I believe he did not want to go back to jail again.”

“It is not acceptable that my son and his friend lost their lives this way. When police conducted the hunt, they had no evidence in hand that the boys had narcotics,” the father said.

Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada said a committee would be set up to investigate the case and a fund set up to help the victims’ families.

At 3pm, protesters demanded that police discuss the case and bring the officers responsible for the pursuit to talk with them. However, police did not heed their demand.

The situation escalated in the evening when the protesters threw sticks and stones into the station, then hurled Molotov cocktails that destroyed the vehicles.

The protesters were angered by the police claim that they found 50 pills of methamphetamine and one kilogram of kratom leaves in the young men’s bags.

The tension seemed to decrease at 3am after Major General Theenachat Jinda-ngen, chief of Military Circle 41, came to stop the protest. After talks, they agreed to attend the meeting yesterday at Wat Bandon School. The protest dispersed at about 3.30am, ending a 12-hour stand-off.

Governor Chamroen said preliminary agreements were made at the meeting to set up an inquiry between police and local authorities to investigate the case, and set up a fund for the men’s families. “The case will be investigated without any bias and will bring justice to both sides,” he said.

Damage to the police station has yet to be calculated, but all windows in the three-storey police building were shattered, while the fence and signpost outside were wrecked and some 27 vehicles belonging to the authorities and private owners were burned. Fourteen police officers suffered minor injuries.

The riot also forced the road outside the station to be closed, which affected transport to Phuket Airport. Officials at the airport said 35 people missed their flights and nine planes were delayed on Saturday night.

Police spokesman Lt General Prawut Thavornsiri said National Police Chief General Chakthip Chaijinda had ordered police to investigate the case in a straightforward manner to bring justice to everyone and ordered the officers responsible to get people to understand the situation so the tension might be relieved.

“The next thing we’ll do is investigate the police who were responsible for the chase – and if they were really excessive [in their actions], they will be punished and aid given to the teenagers’ relatives,” he said.

He said police, doctors, local authorities and soldiers would conduct the autopsies, which would be done as soon as possible, so results could be known within seven days.

The prime minister expressed sympathy to the families of the deceased.

How the Thalang riot unfolded

October 10

11:20am: Two young men die after being chased on their motorcycle by Phuket’s Thalang police.

1pm: Thalang police inform the public that they found 50 amphetamine pills and one kilogram of kratom leaves in the young men’s bags.

3pm: Relatives and friends of the teenagers gather in front of Thalang Police Station and demand its chief tell the truth and bring the four officers responsible for the chase before the public.

4:30pm: Around 100 people protest in front of the police station.

6.30pm: The protesters close the road in front of the station after the authorities fail to provide them with an acceptable answer.

8pm: A suspected gunshot is heard, leading the protesters to believe the police fired at them, so they besiege the police station.

9:30pm: The situation gets worse. The protesters throw sticks, stones and eggs at the station.

10:30pm: The protesters start to set fire to police vehicles and other cars parked at the station.

11:25pm: Thalang police ask for and receive reinforcements, but they still cannot control the situation.

October 11

Midnight: The four police officers involved in the deadly chase are ordered out of the station, while the reinforcement squad is asked to help other staff trapped inside the station.

3am: Maj-General Theenachat Jinda-ngen, the Military Circle 41 commander, and a group of soldiers negotiate with the protesters and ask them to stop the protest.

3:30am: The protesters agree to disperse and have further talks with the authorities at 9am at Wat Bandon School.

9am: The talks between the relatives of the dead young man and teenager, police and the military commence.

11am: It is decided a joint committee will be established to investigate the deaths, with a fund to be set up for the young men’s families.

— The Nation

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Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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