PHUKET: Friends, family and colleagues paid their final respects to slain reporter Wisut “Ae Inside” Tangwitthayaporn during an emotional cremation ceremony at Wat Kosit in Phuket Town this afternoon.
Mr Wisut’s body arrived at the temple following a procession from Kajornrangsan Temple on Ranong Road in Phuket Town, with scores of funeral wreaths from numerous organizations and agencies on the island.
Outside the crematorium was a billboard covered with copies of various editions of Mr Wisut’s bi-monthly political journal Inside Phuket, along with a pile of his last-ever edition, which bore the headline “Flying Sor Kor 1”.
The lead story is an exposé of an alleged grab of government land at a prime seaside location in the Nakalay hillsides of Kamala through falsification of documents to obtain fraudulent title deeds.
The top of the billboard read: “The fearless reporter who never feared death – Ae Inside”. Also included on the billboard was a photocopy of the police mugshot of Noppadol “Pae” Praisri, who has confessed to being the man who transported Mr Wisut’s assassin to the ambush site in return for a payment of 50,000 baht.
The religious ceremony this afternoon included an offering of robes to the monks who attended.
Among those making offerings were:
- Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha
- Phuket Court Acting Chief Justice Attakarn Foojaroern
- Thai Rak Thai Party Phuket Election Office Director Karan Panichpichetwong
- Phang Nga Deputy Governor Kanti Silapa
- Phuket Public Prosecutor Chainan Ngamkajornkulkit
- Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Col Chalit Kaewyarat
- Former Phuket Provincial Administration President Dr Prasit Koeysiripong
- Siangtai Daily newspaper publisher Chaowapong Mekkerakul
- Former PPAO Vice President Wisut Santikul.
Several eulogies were given by friends, including one that recounted Mr Wisut’s days as a technical school student living near Surakul Stadium.
Forced to walk to school every day because he was unable to afford a bicycle, the young Mr Wisut used to collect scrap metal during his daily walk and sell it to junk dealers for coins. Using this approach, he bought bicycle parts piece by piece until he eventually managed after two years to build a bike for himself, the lifelong friend recalled.
The account evoked tears from Mr Wisut’s surviving family, which includes an in-law from Sweden.
After the eulogies, Red-shirt leader Thida Thawornseth, who came down from Bangkok to attend, made a statement to the press.
“Mr Ae was a very brave man. First, because he was fearless in his reporting. Second, because he was openly a red shirt supporter, which is rare in the South – this is not a ‘red-shirt’ area.
“To do what he did was very dangerous. Some people in Thailand still solve problems in barbaric ways. This is an indicator of an undeveloped country.
“I want to pass this message on to all people in the media: to report all facts truly and accurately without fear.
“Those who think differently than those around them, should be able to walk freely through society without fear of repercussions,” she said.
— Stephen Fein / PGTV
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