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Phuket stolen passports may unravel missing Malaysian flight mystery

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Police are investigating how two passports reported stolen in Phuket were used by persons unknown to board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared over the South China Sea on Saturday (story here).

The probe was announced yesterday after two tourists who visited Phuket on holiday were found alive and well after being listed among the 239 passengers on board Flight MH370.

Italian tourist Luigi Maraldi, 37, was found safe at a guesthouse on Nanai Road in Patong.

“Mr Maraldi filed a report to Patong Police on July 25 last year that his passport was lost on July 22,” Police Region 8 Commander Panya Mamen told a press conference yesterday.

“He returned to Phuket on holiday on March 1 this year. We began a search and located him after we were notified that he was listed as one of the missing passengers.”

Mr Maraldi explained to the press that he left his passport as security for a rented motorbike in Patong while on holiday in Phuket last year.

“The woman who ran the shop told me that a man had come to the shop and claimed that he was my partner – and he took my passport,” he said.

“I flew back to Italy on an emergency travel document on August 3.”

Mr Maraldi learned that he was listed as one of the missing passengers when his family called him from Italy to confirm that he was alive and well.

“I told them I am still alive and that I have never been to Malaysia,” he explained.

Mr Maraldi said he was due to conclude his holidays in Phuket on March 15, but was happy to assist police, as much as he could, in identifying the man who collected his passport.

Gen Panya told the press that his officers were also investigating the reported theft of a passport issued to Austrian tourist Christian Kozel, 30, who was also listed as missing on board Flight MH370.

“A spokesman for Austria’s foreign ministry confirmed to the media on Saturday that Mr Kozel is alive and well in Austria. The spokesman also confirmed Mr Kozel’s passport was reported lost in Phuket,” Gen Panya said.

“We are now checking which police station Mr Kozel reported his missing passport to.”

Why the men posing as Luigi Maraldi and Christian Kozel used the false documents is still unclear, reported The Guardian. Terrorism has been marked as a possibility, but so has asylum.

Six Syrians who were held in limbo at Phuket International Airport and supposed to be deported by the end of February, were hoping to seek refugee status in Sweden. However, their passports were seized in Bejiing and they were returned to Phuket (story here).

The group said they had chosen to fly through Phuket and Beijing because other refugees had reached Sweden using the same flight path, The Guardian reported.

The two men on board MH370 with the false documents had booked onward flights via Beijing to Amsterdam. One was then to depart for Copenhagen and the other for Frankfurt.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: ประชาสัมพันธ์ เทศบาลตำบลวิชิต

Hundreds of residents in Phuket’s Wichit subdistrict attended a workshop focused on reducing stress from to the pandemic-induced economic crisis. A psychologist was even on site to help those who had extreme mental stress and a Buddhist monk taught meditation techniques to reduce physiological effects of stress.

The event was planned in response to an online survey conducted by the municipality asking residents about how much stress they were experiencing from the economic climate. They found that some residents had serious stress issues brought on by the pandemic and financial problems, according to Wichit Mayor Kreetha Chotiwichphiphat.

“The loss of income due to the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 situation has resulted in some people in the area suffering serious stress, which can lead to serious mental health issues.”

Around 350 people attended the event. The mayor says it was the first step in caring for the residents’ mental health. Local officials plan to hold similar workshops in the future.

“It was a good opportunity for people to realise the importance of mental health and to learn techniques of how to deal with stress, which will help people to maintain their physical health and avoid developing mental health problems.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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