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Rawai attacks continue; Man survives machete attack

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Rawai attacks continue; Man survives machete attack | The Thaiger
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RAWAI: The late-night road attacks on motorcyclists in the south end of the island continue unabated, with two more reports of attacks in the last 24 hours and several others earlier this month continuing to pour in to the Gazette news desk.

Last night a 24-year-old Norwegian man, staying in Phuket on disability pension because he is officially registered as physically disabled in his home country, was kicked off his motorbike and robbed.

The attack occurred around the corner from Icon bar, where Australian tourist Sooz Lomas, 27, and a British friend were attacked on October 7.

The Norwegian man, who asked that his name not be reported, was robbed while he was still lying on the ground.

In Chalong about 1 am today, a foreigner who runs a business in Rawai was threatened by three knife-wielding teenagers. The attack occured outside a 7-Eleven branch located just 100 meters from Chalong Police Station.

A fight ensued and the police were called. The foreigner, who also asked that his name be withheld, told the Gazette that he was disappointed with the police response.

In breaking up the fight the officers seemed more concerned about him being a foreigner and involved in a fight than the knife-wielding teenagers, he told the Gazette in a telephone interview.

Also reported to the Gazette news desk today was an attack on another foreign tourist that took place at about 1 am on October 2 near Kata Viewpoint, the same area where Norwegian Simen Knudsen was murdered a week earlier.

New Zealand tourist Shaun Clotworthy, 49, told the Gazette,“I was heading down a very steep hill toward Kata and I was about three-quarters down to the bottom of the hill, where there is a sharp bend, when two men came from behind and kicked me off my motorbike,” he explained.

“As soon as I got up off the ground, one of the men attacked me with a machete. I was lucky I was wearing a helmet – the machete cracked it,” he said.

“I was able to get the machete off him, but then both of them pointed guns at me. It was very dark,

so I don’t know whether they [the guns] were real or not,” he added.

“They made off with my bag, which had my phone, camera and some books in it, but they didn’t get any money because it was in my pocket,” he said.

Another person soon came along on a motorbike and gave him a lift to the police box in Kata, where he handed in machete and police called for an ambulance to him to Patong Hospital, he said.

Mr Clotworthy needed three stitches in his left arm to closed the wound suffered from blocking the machete, he said.

In the fall off the motorbike suffered a bruised chest and serious abrasions, he added.

“In total I had 20 wounds. I was unable to shower for two weeks. The worst, which have still yet to heal, are the toes on my left foot,” he told the Gazette on October 23.

He reported the attack to Chalong Police on the morning of October 3, he said.

“I have no broken bones, I’m lucky to be alive,” he said.

“I am disappointed with the police. They don’t seem to want to tell tourists about what is happening here. They must be able to do something. These people [the muggers] are in that area all the time.”

Adding insult to injury, Mr Clotworthy was forced to delay his visa run to via Ranong due to his injuries. Although he presented Thai Immigration officers there the police report about his attack, he was charged three days’ overstay, he said.

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Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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