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VIDEO REPORT: HM the King’s historic visit may bolster Phuket sea gypsy land rights

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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VIDEO REPORT: HM the King’s historic visit may bolster Phuket sea gypsy land rights | The Thaiger

PHUKET: As part of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) probe to establish how long Phuket sea gypsies have been living at Rawai Beach, officers have discovered movie footage of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej visiting the community in 1959.

The footage may prove critical to the sea gypsies’ fight against court-ordered evictions based on land claims by private investors, the Chief of the DSI’s Consumer and Environment Protection Office, Prawuth Wongsinil, told the Phuket Gazette today.

“The footage shows many houses built under coconut trees in the traditional sea-gypsy manner. One of the investors claims his title deed was issued in 1965, so we will ask any villagers who appeared in the footage, or their parents, if they knew about this title deed being issued,” Lt Col Prawuth said.

“According to the law, in order for a title deed to be issued, officers must come to the site and measure the land. If any such officers had come to the site to do this, then why did none of the villagers protest it, considering they claim to have been living here since long before 1965?” Col Prawuth asked.

The footage is just one of the many aspects the DSI officers are investigating to establish how long the once-nomadic seafarers have been living at Phuket’s southernmost beach.

Col Prawuth and fellow DSI officers arrived in Phuket today to begin excavations at the village and to collect DNA samples. Joining the DSI team are officers from the Central Institute of Forensic Science, operated by the Ministry of Justice, and archaeologists from the Fine Arts Department Phuket office.

“The Rawai sea gypsies filed a complaint to Ministry of Justice, asking us to examine evidence in their village to prove they have been living in the area for generations,” Col Prawuth told the Gazette.

“And so we have collected evidence that we believe could be used against private investors claiming plots of land inside what the sea gypsies consider their village,” he added.

Some of the sea gypsies have received court orders demanding that they move from certain parts of what they claim is their land (story here).

However, so far none of them has moved, citing rights to remain on the land, Col Prawuth said.

Now, the sea gypsies are seeing their case grow stronger.

“We also have aerial photographs of the area from many years ago [story here] and we have a register of students from Wat Sawang Arom, which is nearby [map here],” Col Prawuth explained.

“About 30 sea gypsy students’ names appear on the school list before 1957, and some of those individuals are still alive today,” he said.

Specialists from the Fine Arts Department Phuket office are now excavating two sites where villagers believe their ancestors were buried.

To make the all-important connection to strengthen the sea gypsies claim, officers from the Central Institute of Forensic Science are collecting DNA samples from every family in the village. This will result in more than 60 samples in total.

“If we find human bone fragments at these sites, we will match that DNA with the DNA database we are currently collecting,” Col Prawuth said.

“If we confirm any human bones found at the site are of sea gypsy origin, we will question the private investors as to why they are claiming the land is theirs, and, if so, why did they allow the sea gypsies to bury their dead on the land?”

Regarding human bones being found at the village in March this year (story here), Col Prawuth explained that the bones could not be used as evidence.

“We are aware of the bones that were found, but they cannot be used as evidence. They were reportedly discovered by sea gypsies in the village who stand to benefit if the bones prove to be of sea gypsy origin, and the bones were removed from their original location.

“As evidence, they are tainted,” he said.

Thawatchai Chanpaisalsilp, a specialist from the Fine Arts Department Phuket office, told the Gazette his team will dig to a depth of about 1.5 meters.

“We believe will find human bones at that depth. We started digging at around 10am today, and we will be working on the site for a whole week,” he said.

— Chutharat Plerin

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

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Hua Hin

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain

May Taylor

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Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | The Thaiger

The Thailand Meteorological Department issued a weather warning for southern Thailand with torrential rain forecast to hit the region throughout the weekend. The heavy monsoon over the Gulf of Thailand and south of the country is being blamed for the rough weather, with the TMD predicting flash flooding in many areas.

(Phuket, Hat Yai and Hua Hin’s forecast below)

“Waves are expected to reach 2 metres in height in the lower Gulf of Thailand and possibly higher at the height of the storm. Ships are advised to proceed with caution.”

For the north and northeast of Thailand, the TMD forecasts strong winds and cooler mornings as the arrival of the “winter” season, coupled with a moderate high-pressure system, causes temperatures to dip.

Hua Hin’s five day forecast

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | News by The Thaiger

Phuket’s five day forecast

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | News by The Thaiger

Hat Yai’s five day forecast

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation | weather.com

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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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