PHOTO: The attractions of Thailand’s southern border town usually become apparent after sunset
On one side of the Thai/Malaysian border is Sungai Golok, on the Malaysian side it’s the town of Rantau Panjang. The two towns are separated by the Golok River as well as decades of furious fighting between Muslim separatists who want to reclaim some of the southern areas in Thailand under the Malaysian flag.
The Thai Buddhists on the other side are happy for it to remain part of the Kingdom of Thailand. Enough of the politics…
The real story in Sungai Golok is the thriving little border town that attracts Malaysian men nightly to enjoy the ‘pleasures of the flesh’, loud music, karaoke, copious booze and ‘the ladies’. All the same ‘lifestyle items’ frowned upon just south of the river in Malaysia.
Although the border town’s most infamous days are in the past it still lures plenty of traffic across the river nightly.
Thai merchants, nowadays cross the major border checkpoint in Sungai Kolok to enter Kelantan, the Malaysian border city, to sell food and household goods as the neighbours now have more purchasing power than before.
Poised at the very south of Narithawat Province, Sungai Golok is ground zero for border boozing and debauchery. With a population of around 38,000 it’s hardly a thriving metropolis but when the sun goes down the men from south of the border flock across the river to enjoy entertainment unavailable to them in the strict Muslim province of Kelantan.
The death toll in the deep south is equivalent to the toll in the Gaza Strip
If it wasn’t for its strategic location on the main road heading south from Thailand you would never hear of Sungai Golok. But apart from its rising reputation as the southern red light district it’s also a strategic target for bombings and outrage from people south of the border who see the town as the epitome of everything wrong with ‘Thai and Western decadence’.
The death toll in the deep south is equivalent to the toll in the Gaza Strip conflict – around 7,000 since 2004. But the violence in the Deep South is rarely reported in international media.
Violent attacks happen almost daily in the southern provinces of Thailand – Pattani, Yala and Narithawat – with little sign of any drop in attacks from the insurgents.
Back in Sungai Golok it’s just part of the nightlife where the noise from the discos is occasionally interrupted by a bomb. Does it deter the men heading across the border for their nights of revelry or the Thai women working in the bars? Hell no.
The Golok River is very small and easy to cross without using the main bridge road – Malay Mail
The nightclubs and bars are regular targets for the indiscriminate home-made pipe bombs and car bombs, almost daily, but it does little to dampen the enthusiasm for a good night. In fact the reputation of Sungai Golok as the ‘place to go’ for a good time continues to rise – which just puts it higher up the target list for the insurgents who want to make their point.
The troubles in the town do little to dampen the enthusiasm for the men that visit and most of them will head home after their night of fun to the conservative Malaysian state over the river unhurt. But for the girls that work in Sungai Golok it’s a constant threat to their lives. The stakes are high.
The men are paying good money for the services provided in the town – the girls are eager to part the men from their money and are willing to take the risks of plying their trade in such a dangerous location.
With a single bridge across the Golok river you would think that police and army can control the flow of traffic across the waterway but many of the visitors slip across by boat and cross the border undetected, usually without passports or any means of identification if the worst happens.
If you’re heading south from Thailand and wanting to cross the river border into Malaysia there’s only one official road, through Sungai Golok. So it seems the little towns future, and reputation, will continue to grow along with it the violence that sees no signs of abating.
Five days to move out – restaurant encroaches on Nakhon Si Thammarat creek
PHOTO: Facebook/Strong Club – Sufficiency mind, anti-corruption
A restaurant in Nakhon Si Thammarat has been exposed for illegally encroaching on the Baan Kiriwong creek and constructing permanent foundations and infrastructure. They’ve been ordered by authorities to move out.
The Nation reports that a Facebook page titled “Strong Club – Sufficiency mind, anti-corruption” posted a photo with a caption on October 14, alluding to the illegal encroachment. The concrete platform runs for about 60 metres along one side of the stream.
The restaurant had allegedly created a cement platform in the creek and set up tables and chairs at Baan Kiriwong, which has become famous as an eco-attraction for tourists in the Nakhon Si Thammarat province, west of Krabi on the Gulf of Thailand.
The area also serves as a natural flood warning system, so, in the event of flash floods, the locals send emergency warnings to people in the town to prepare for approaching flood waters.
The Facebook page owners had asked the local government to inspect the area to ensure more damage wasn’t inflicted on the forest and the Baan Kiriwong creek.
On Tuesday, the Lansaka district governor and rangers went to the scene and questioned the owner of the restaurant. The restaurant owner was given an ultimatum to break up and remove the cement platform and move the restaurant out of the area within five days.
SOURCE: The Nation
Thailand is facing “hybrid warfare” by “ill-intentioned politicians” – Army chief Gen Apirat
PHOTO: Screenshot – Matichon TV
Thailand’s Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong is warning that Thailand is facing what he described as a “hybrid warfare”.
The ultra-loyalist Army chief says the ‘war’ is being waged by a collection of “ill-intentioned politicians”, remnants of communist ideologues and “foreign forces” against the country’s major establishments. His speech was aimed fairly and squarely at opposition politicians who he accused of “soliciting foreign interference in Thai domestic affairs”.
His comments were heavily politically weighted for a man who is meant to represent the country’s Army, a position usually associated with political neutrality.
General Apirat was speaking at the army’s southern headquarters where he outlined what he claimed to be a conspiracy among several groups of people bent on “destroying the country and its major establishments.”
General Apirat referred to a recent visit to Hong Kong by a leading Thai opposition politician during which he met with pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, claiming it was an “illustration of how anti-government forces are trying to solicit foreign interference in Thai domestic affairs”.
He did not mention names specifically but showed a picture of Wong taken with the silhouette of someone understood to be Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit, the fire-brand leader of Future Forward Party. Thanathorn admitted that he was in Hong Kong recently for a panel discussion and a picture he took with Wong wen tviral. He also admitted that he was inspired to enter politics by the fight for democracy in Hong Kong.
He accused opposition figures of targeting young people and trying to indoctrinate them with “destructive ideas.”
“Joshua Wong visited Thailand and then this businessman-turned-politician went to Hong Kong. Were they up to something? I want to ask whether these young (Thai) people would go out on the streets if called upon one day,” he said.
PHOTO: Future Forward’s Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit and HK pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong
General Apirat, a key supporter of the Prayut government, took aim at politicians and academics who he said are trying to use the situation in southern Thailand for political gains. He singled out Dr. Chalita Bundhuwong from the Kasetsart University, who proposed, during a recent panel discussion in Pattani, that Article 1 of the Constitution which guarantees Thailand as a single and indivisible state, be amended.
General Apirat opined that the proposal has a “hidden motive that would threaten the country’s security”. “Amending Article 1 of the Constitution would pave the way for amendments of other articles concerning the monarchy,” he said without elaborating but vowed to block any attempts to have the article in question amended. The general didn’t outline the means by which he would be able to ‘block’ the process of amendments to Thailand’s constitution.
The army chief also recalled the presence of a group of western diplomats who showed up at Pathumwan police station in April when Thanathorn was summoned to hear a sedition charge against him. He alleged that it was part of a larger plot to internationalise the issue.
The ‘western diplomats’ were staff from foreign embassies stationed in Bangkok whose governments had openly expressed concerns over the sedition charges against the Future Forward leader.
“All these incidents were not coincidental,” he said, referring specifically to Thanathorn’s meeting with Wong, the support shown by western diplomats to the Future Forward leader, the controversial panel discussion in Pattani and the frequent mobilising of anti-military rallies.
“They were orchestrated.”
Gen Apirat also accused some of the “foreign educated” academics with leftist views of being “masterminds” behind many of the anti-government and anti-military activities.
He claimed, without evidence, that they had been working in cahoots with politicians “who harbour ill intentions toward the country’s major establishments, foreign elements, and businessmen born with silver spoons in their mouths” to wage a “hybrid warfare” against the country.
Gen Apirat clarified that a “hybrid war” is a modern form of warfare that employs a range tools and players designed to destabilise and bring about changes in a society.
“They include inciting local unrests, propaganda, foreign interference, cyber-attacks, economic pressure, and discrediting of the executive and judiciary branches.”
“Their ultimate aim is to win elections, seize executive power, and to change the Constitution.”
The General’s lecture was entitled “Our Land from Security Perspectives” and was full of theatre punctuating some of his points with a produced Power Point presentation and military music.
When challenged by the media if a dialogue with these groups of dissenting voices was possible, General Apirat said “I don’t think so. They are bent on pushing their agenda regardless of what we say.”
SOURCE: Thai PBS World
Thai Army chief will address sedition charges and solving problems in South
The Thai Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong will deliver a speech at a seminar tomorrow (Thursday) to explain the armed forces’ role in providing security under current circumstances.
This seminar is part of the Army’s PR effort to provide an official statement after it charged 12 people, including Opposition leaders and academics, of sedition. The sedition charges followed Opposition and academics holding a seminar on the solutions for southern border provinces and the campaign to amend the Constitution.
Representatives from seven political parties have filed a countersuit against the 4th Army Area commander.
Meanwhile, the special seminar, to be held at the Army headquarters, is tipped to also touch on the subject of senior judge Khanakorn Pianchana shooting himself in a Yala courtroom after reading a verdict last Friday. It has been reported he turned the gun on himself to protest against his supervisors interfering in his verdict on a criminal case. He is currently recovering in hospital.
Apirat had previously claimed his speech would focus on solving problems in the South, especially since he had once commanded a special task force in Yala province and had spent a year and a half living in the South.
SOURCE: The Nation
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