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Prime Minister keeps controversial comedian off stage

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Prime Minister keeps controversial comedian off stage | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The show of controversial comedian and hate-speech convict Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, scheduled to take place last month at Illuzion night club in Phuket, was cancelled after the venue pulled the plug less than 24 hours ahead of the Frenchman taking the stage. Since then, Mr M’bala M’bala has struggled to find his footing in Asia.

“One of the owners of Illuzion was contacted the evening before the show by the Phuket Governor, who asked to cancel the show due to the unknown content of Dieudonn่e’s speech, which could have disappointed and hurt the Jewish community,” said Illuzion legal representative Panuwat Somrit, from Harwell Legal International Law office.

“Illuzion understood that the Israeli ambassador made a direct request to the Prime Minister for having the show cancelled and the Prime Minister had contacted the Phuket Governor.”

Israeli Ambassador Simon Roded confirmed to the Phuket Gazette that he had approached the appropriate Thai authorities to prevent the performance from taking place.

“Dieudonne was convicted several times in the past years by courts in France and Belgium for crimes of hate speech, Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism, racism and more. Many venues in Europe have forbidden his performances due to their offensive nature and his criminal records,” said Amb Roded.

The Ambassador was grateful for the quick response, especially given the checkered past of Thailand being insensitive to anti-Semitic issues.

In 2011, a group of high school students in Chiang Mai dressed up in full Nazi regalia for the annual summer sports day. The students of Sacred Heart Catholic School were led by a teen dressed as Adolf Hitler. Then in 2014, a KFC-like restaurant named ‘Hitler’ popped up in Thailand. Hitler fried chicken, located in Ubon Ratchathani, made international news with its take on the KFC logo, which featured Adolph Hitler in place of the iconic Colonel Sanders, reported The Diplomat.

“We highly appreciated the prompt response by the relevant Thai agencies. In the same spirit, we appreciated the club’s decision to cancel the show,” said Amb Roded. “In recent years, we have indeed witnessed an improvement in awareness and sensitivity in Thailand on the topics of Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism, racism and so on.”

Last year, Mr M’bala M’bala was sentenced to two months in jail by a Belgian court for racist and anti-Semitic comments he made during a show in Belgium in 2012. This, however, wasn’t the first time the comedian was convicted for hate speech. In fact, earlier in the year he received a two-year suspended sentence in France for a Facebook comment condoning terrorism.

Days after the attacks that killed 17 people in Paris, Mr M’bala M’bala posted a message that mixed the popular ‘I am Charlie’ slogan with the name of one of the gunmen, Amedy Coulibaly. The statement read: ‘I feel like Charlie Coulibaly’.

Mr M’bala M’bala has been arrested at least 38 times for violating French hate speech laws.

“He claims the country is run by Jewish ‘slave drivers’ and says ‘the big crooks of the planet are all Jews’,” reported The Telegraph.

“He even complains that “the Holocaust has become almost a dominant religion” in France, and says Jewish journalist Patrick Cohen makes him think of ‘the gas chambers’. He has repeatedly invited Robert Faurisson, a famous Holocaust denier, on stage.”

Mr Panuwat reiterated to the Gazette that Illuzion was only the venue, which had been rented out to the agency organizing the show.

“Illuzion did not ignore or neglect this issue; when the Phuket Governor contacted the owner on the day before the performance and explained the situation, Illuzion immediately cancelled the contract for renting its space to the event organizer,” said Mr Panuwat.

Despite the last minute cancellation, Illuzion paid no compensation to Mr M’bala M’bala or the organizer.

“Illuzion management would like to apologize to the Jewish community for the accident and welcome the Israeli ambassador to make direct contact with the Illuzion team for any clarification,” Mr Panuwat said.

Thailand has faced severe criticism from Human Rights Watch, the United States of America and many private and government bodies with regards to freedom of expression, following the National Council of Peace and Order (NCPO) taking power in 2014.

Coming under particular fire are Thailand’s lese majeste law, the Computer Crimes Act and other laws being applied in defamation cases. However, Mr M’bala M’bala’s speeches, comments and actions appear to fall outside of ‘freedom of speech’, inside and outside of Thailand.

In 2013, then-French Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced that he would try to legally ban public performances by Mr M’bala M’bala, reported France 24.

“Despite a conviction for public defamation, hate speech and racial discrimination, Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala no longer seems to recognize any limits,” a statement released by Mr Valls read. “Consequently, the interior minister has decided to thoroughly examine all legal options that would allow a ban on his public gatherings, which no longer belong to the artistic domain, but rather amount to a public safety risk.”

Moves to muzzle Mr M’Bala M’Bala set off a series of debates with regards to freedom of speech.

“These preliminary injunctions that have been pronounced against his shows are dangerous – not for Dieudonne, but because citing ‘a risk to public order’ opens the way for other similar injunctions,” Agn่s Tricoire, a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property and freedom of expression and represents the French League of Human Rights, told The New York Times in 2014.

After departing from Thailand this year, Mr M’bala M’bala travelled to Hong Kong for another show. However, he was detained upon arrival and deported.

“Civilized societies find it is necessary to put a stop to such hate speech and outlaw such performances,” said Amb Roded.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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

Thai Life

Happy Loy Krathong Phuket. Where to launch your krathong tonight

Tim Newton

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Happy Loy Krathong Phuket. Where to launch your krathong tonight | The Thaiger

Happy Loy Krathong Phuket. But this year authorities are saying ‘only floating Krathongs thanks’. No polystyrene, no steel pins – keep it natural and plant-based please. This year Loy Krathong in Thailand co-incides with the annual Halloween celebrations on October 31.

Authorities are also urging people to choose, or make, their krathongs using natural materials only. The latest craze for “edible” krathongs is also causing problems. Read about that HERE.

Loy Krathong is a festival celebrated annually throughout Thailand The name could be translated as “to float a basket”, and comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river. Loi Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar so the exact date of the festival changes every year.

In Phuket, the Provincial Office says fireworks, fire crackers and sky lanterns are prohibited “for people’s safety” (but be assured there will still be a few sky lanterns seen flying off the islands beaches this evening).

 

Happy Loy Krathong Phuket. Where to launch your krathong tonight | News by The Thaiger

Loy Krathong is celebrated at many of the island’s popular waterways and at many of the beaches. Many hotels also host their own celebrations for their tourist customers. Here are a few of the locations you will be able to launch your own Krathong or buy one on site and watch families and couples launching Krathongs.

Popular locations in Phuket include…

• Saphan Hin Park Lake, Phuket Town

• Suan Luang Park (off Naka Market Road)

• Bang Wad Dam, Kathu

• The recreation lake near Ket Ho Temple in Kathu (The Thaiger ‘local’)

• Tin Mine Museum Lake on the Kathu back road, near BIS International School

• Nai Harn Lake and Nai Harn Beach

• Bang Maruam near the Alan Cooke Cricket Ground in Thalang

• Laguna (the main lake just inside the entrance)

• Just about anywhere along Patong Beach

Happy Loy Krathong Phuket. Where to launch your krathong tonight | News by The Thaiger

On the night of the full moon, Thais launch their krathong on a river, canal or a pond, making a wish as they do so. The festival may originate from an ancient ritual paying respect to the water spirits.

We would urge people to consider the environment if you’re making your own Krathong or try and select Krathongs that are made from natural products. Many of the ‘commercial’ Krathongs use polystyrene and pins that end up scattered along our waterways and provide a hazard on the island’s beaches when the Krathongs eventually wash ashore and disintegrate.

Same goes for the new fad of bread and “edible” krathongs. Officials say these can be dangerous for the fish and cause long term problems for water catchments.

Happy Loy Krathong Phuket. Where to launch your krathong tonight | News by The Thaiger

If you’d like to make a krathong, here’s a very quick guide…

If you want the easy way out, you will find hundreds of stalls on the way or near any waterway around the island that is participating in the event. Try and pick ones that appear to be made from natural materials.

Happy Loy Krathong Phuket!

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Phuket

Phuket tops travel destination list of cheapest hotel prices – Dertour 2020 Price Index

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket tops travel destination list of cheapest hotel prices – Dertour 2020 Price Index | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Phuket Hotels Association

Phuket tops a list of the cheapest travel destinations with a 1 night stay at a hotel costing on average less than $30 USD, according to a study by the German travel company Dertour. Phuket is going through what some say is a “crisis”, certainly a current tourist vacuum. The island province largely relies on income from foreign tourists, but with travel bans over the last 7 months, hotels and other businesses in the tourism industry have been at a loss.

For domestic tourists, Phuket currently offers a serene, peaceful tropical stay where you’ll have a lot of the island to yourself. There are plenty of daily flights to the island, but all from domestic locations at this stage – the international terminal remains closed.

Along with being listed as hotels with the lowest price, Phuket also made the top 5 cities with the largest price drop from 2019 to 2020, according to Dertour’s 2020 Accommodation Price Index. The company studied hotel prices for 75 popular tourist destinations around the world. Bangkok was just above Phuket at the fourth city with the largest hotel price drop. Bangkok hotel prices dropped by 34.6% while Phuket’s hotel prices dropped by 33.8%.

Prices will continue to be low, CEO DER Touristik Central Europe Ingo Burmester says…

“Travel itself will be cheap in 2021… Although it has been a challenging period, we have seen a great deal of interest in domestic travel. We also predict a major catch-up effect for Mediterranean destinations, European trips and long-haul routes in 2021 as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.”

Phuket ranks as the destination with the cheapest accommodation prices at an average price of $29 USD, according to the list. Average prices for 3-star hotels are $26 USD and an average of $54 USD for 5-star hotels.

Bangkok followed, ranking fifth on the list of cities with the lowest hotel price at an average of $43 USD per night. 3-star hotels in Bangkok average at $30 per night and 5-star hotels average at $93 USD.

Top 5 destinations with the lowest price in accommodation

  1. Phuket: Average of $29 USD per night
  2. Delhi: Average of $34 USD per night
  3. Kuala Lumpur: Average of $36 USD per night
  4. Bali: Average of $36 USD per night
  5. Bangkok: Average of $43 USD per night

Top 5 destinations with the largest price drop in accommodation

  1. Amsterdam: Dropped by 51.6%
  2. San Francisco: Dropped by 39.2%
  3. Vancouver: Dropped by 37.1%
  4. Bangkok: Dropped by 34.6%
  5. Phuket: Dropped by 33.8%

To read Dertour’s full report, click HERE.

Catch up with the latest daily “Thailand News Today” here on The Thaiger.

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Phuket

Man arrested after allegedly slicing a man’s face with sickle

Caitlin Ashworth

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Man arrested after allegedly slicing a man’s face with sickle | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

A man was arrested on charges of grievous bodily harm after he allegedly sliced his friend’s face with a sickle, causing a gash about 25 centimetres long.

3 men, identified as Saeng, Ta and Rop, had been drinking at a shanty in Phuket’s Rassada district where Rop lived. An argument broke out over money. A bank transfer was apparently made, but no one received any money, according to Rop as he related the story to police.

The men didn’t come to an agreement and ended up going to bed. Ta stayed awake and slapped Saeng twice while he was falling asleep, Rop says. Saeng then got up, grabbed the sickle and swung the hooked blade across Ta’s cheek, Rop says.

Reports don’t go into detail about Ta’s condition, but photos of the scene by the Phuket News show a significant amount of blood on the concrete floor.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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