TODAY’S HEADLINES: UPDATE: Video shows brutal bashing of British family in Thailand/Thailand is used to hot Aprils, but not this hot!/Cabinet okays deposit protection extension/Cycling event to help tourists get a taste of Thailand/New state tourism website slated for Q4/Thai AirAsia to launch Vientiane route on July 1/New computer crime law to give govt more control over content/Taxi fare rise on hold due to cab cheats
UPDATE: Video shows brutal bashing of British family in Thailand
(Editor’s note: First, there wasn’t a “gang” involved in this skirmish. It looks like one man, possibly Thai, who was probably drinking, had a disagreement with someone. The British “son” was passing by and appeared to strike or say something to the Thai man, who then pushed the Brit, who stumbled and hit his head on a table. He did not hit him. The British woman then gets in the face of the Thai man and slaps him in the face. At this point, a number of other Thais, who were passing by, became involved, as they are known to do when protecting their own against foreigners. The resultant brawl left the elderly people, who also probably had been drinking, injured.)
A shocking unprovoked attack on a British family by Thai men in Hua Hin at Songkran caught on CCTV has stunned the world.
An elderly mum and dad are kicked in the face and knocked unconscious along with their son by a vicious and drunk Thai mob late at night near the entrance to Soi Bintabaht downtown.
Amid allegations that the story was “buried” in order to protect the country’s tourism industry, Thaivisa has been instrumental in seeing the matter come to light.
National newspapers in the United Kingdom and online in Australia have reported witnesses as saying that the attacks were deliberately targeting Westerners.
However, it is now understood that the violent melee witnessed by dozens of shocked people on the 13th of April may have been caused by the elderly couple’s 43-year-old son simply “brushing the arm” of a man arrested for the incident.
The video shows a confusing scene as the tourists walk in a crowded area. Suddenly a fight erupts and a man is kicked on the ground. And most shockingly the elderly gray-haired British lady, thought to be in her sixties or seventies, is smacked straight in the face before being kicked on the jaw as she lays helplessly on the ground. All three members of the family were left flat out unconscious, sprawled on the ground.
Wary members of the public on seeing that the gang – reckoned to be five strong – had melted into the surroundings came to help the injured and send them to hospital. Their condition and whereabouts are unknown at this time.
It has now emerged that two men were arrested on the 17th for the assault and though pictures (below) were taken of the men in bulletproof vests outside the police station the story did not reach a wider audience despite rumors circulating in Hua Hin about the severity of the attack.
Police arrested Supatta Baithong and Yingyai Saengkhamin, both 32, on charges of causing grievous bodily harm. At least two and perhaps three others are sought, as the video, released by police to help with apprehending the remaining attackers, has now gone viral on social media.
A somewhat hidden story on the ‘Samnak Khaw Thai’ (Thai News Office) site showed the two arrested men in the black bullet proof protective vests. Supatta is quoted as telling police that the couple’s 43-year-old son had brushed his arm as he passed by. Supatta said he was very drunk and got angry and pushed the son into a table. The son’s 68-year-old father intervened to protect his son as Supatta called “four friends” to begin the vicious attack.
Both arrested men apologized to the British family and said they did it because they were drunk.
Meanwhile the tabloid press in England and Australia screamed, quoting unnamed online sources that the attack was deliberately targeting ‘farangs’ or Westerners. They said that someone had been overheard that an attack was about to take place.
They quoted a man who had been with the family in a bar just 20 or 30 meters away who said the family were minding their own business and left to go home. The man said on hearing the melee he tried to help but was left needing cosmetic surgery for his trouble after suffering damage to his teeth.
The newspapers were alerted to the attack after Thaivisa shared the video footage that had emerged from police sources seeking others responsible in the melee who are still on the run.
The Mirror, The Telegraph, The Sun, The Star, The Daily Mail, Yahoo News and news.com.au out of Australia all aired similar stories, as a worldwide audience on Facebook reeled in horror at the assaults.
Mainstream Thai news services and television had not reported the incident until mid-morning Thursday, some 12 hours after Thaivisa first posted the story and several hours after the story had gained international attention.
This resulted in some netizens alleging there was a cover-up to protect tourism at the traditional Thai New Year celebrations, though the local police turned out in force with chief Chayakorn Sriladecho for pictures with the two men arrested four days after the attack. – thaivisa.com
Thailand is used to hot Aprils, but not this hot!
Animals at Bangkok’s zoo are being fed special frozen fruit pops. People are flocking to shopping malls just to soak up the air-conditioning. Authorities are telling people to stay out of the blazing sun to avoid heat stroke.
April in Thailand is typically hot and sweaty, but this year’s scorching weather has set a record for the longest heat wave in at least 65 years. The average peak temperature each day this month has been above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), with the mercury spiking one day to 44.3 degrees C (111.7 F) — just short of the all-time record.
The heat wave has also fueled a new record for energy consumption and prompted health warnings on everything from food-borne illness to drowning, both of which rise every April when Thailand’s hottest month coincides with school summer break.
“As of now we can say we’ve broken the record for the highest temperatures over the longest duration in 65 years — and the season isn’t over yet,” said Surapong Sarapa, head of the Thai Meteorological Department’s weather forecast division. Thailand began keeping national weather records after 1950.
On this very day, April 27, in 1960, Thailand posted its hottest day ever recorded with 44.5 degrees Celsius (112 F) in the northern province of Uttaradit.
Countries across Southeast Asia are feeling the heat, which scientists say is triggered by El Nino, a warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide and tends to push global temperatures up. El Nino has also been blamed for causing the worst drought in decades across the region.
Thailand’s Department of Disease Control has warned people to beware of food poisoning and other food-related illnesses that typically increase during hot weather when bacteria can thrive on unrefrigerated food.
“Stay indoors, try to limit activity outdoors. Wear sunglasses, wear hats with large brims. Drink more water than usual,” the disease control center said in a statement this week. It also reminded of the increased risk of drowning in hot weather as children flock to Thailand’s beaches, ponds and lakes to take a swim.
“Do not let young children out of your sight for even a brief moment,” the statement said, noting that an average of 90 children die every month in Thailand from drowning but that number increases to about 135 in April.
Thais are used to the heat. April typically brings an average of 38-degree C (100 F) days. The current stretch of sweltering weather has been a main topic of conversation, but people are taking it in stride.
“This April is so hot. I’ve got the air conditioner and fan turned on at home. And I’m keeping ice cream in my fridge at all times,” said Jarossanon Thovicha, a 30-year-old Bangkok resident who works in the fashion industry and is living in fear of her next electricity bill.
“My husband and I have been going out to the mall and spending time there over the weekends to save on electricity at home,” she said.
Nationwide, energy consumption set a record high on Tuesday at 29,004.6 megawatts, said the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand. It was the latest in a series of peaks reached earlier this month, and EGAT is urging the public not to keep air conditioners on all day.
In Cambodia, the hot weather was blamed for the death of an elephant trained to carry tourists at the famed Angkor Wat temple compound. Local media carried pictures of the pachyderm, which collapsed last Friday and quoted the Angkor Elephant company as saying she had apparently died of a heart attack due to high temperatures and lack of wind.
The Dusit Zoo in Bangkok says it’s taking extra precautions so its animals stay safe.
“Monkeys and apes at the zoo are getting fruit popsicles,” said Saowaphang Sanannu, head of conservation and research at Bangkok’s main zoo.
Oranges, watermelon, pineapple and other fruit get chopped up, mixed with fruit juice or water and is then frozen for the chimpanzees, orangutans and other primates. Bears already have waterfall displays in their habitats, so can take dips whenever they want, and are getting the same fruit pops as the others.
“Tigers are getting meat popsicles. We’ll freeze pork legs and chunks of meat to feed them and cool them off at the same time,” Saowaphang said. “Deer, giraffe and elephants get increased shade and sprinklers to provide rain and decrease the heat on the ground.”
Temporary relief is forecast later this week with scattered tropical storms. But it will be brief, with the heat expected to return next week before tapering off in mid-May when the monsoon rains are expected. – AP
Cabinet okays deposit protection extension
The cabinet yesterday approved the Finance Ministry’s proposal to extend deposit protection amid uncertain economic conditions.
Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said the government aims to boost confidence in bank depositors and trust in the country’s monetary and fiscal stability.
The Deposit Protection Act of 2012 calls for a cut in the ceiling for deposit guarantees to 1 million baht per depositor per bank from 25 million baht by Aug 11 this year.
But with the cabinet’s approval yesterday, the cut in deposit protection will be made in steps, with protection for 25 million baht worth of deposits at the bank until Aug 10. Protection will be in place for 15 million baht in deposits between Aug 11, 2016 and Aug 10, 2018; for 10 million between Aug 11, 2018 and Aug 10, 2019; for 5 million between Aug 11, 2019 and Aug 10, 2020; and for 1 million by Aug 11, 2020.
Bank of Thailand governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said the extension had nothing to do with the stability of financial institutions as commercial banks have a solid capital base and a high liquidity surplus.
Moreover, all commercial banks have already prepared for the cut in the maximum deposit guarantee to 1 million baht per account per bank as earlier scheduled and the central bank has found no irregular movements of deposits, Mr Veerathai said.
The delay is meant to allow time for adjustment and financial planning. – Bangkok Post
Cycling event to help tourists get a taste of Thailand
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has joined hands with Mitsubishi Electric Kang Yong Watana Co Ltd and Nation TV Channel 22 to organize five cycling events in five different provinces.
Entitled “Slow Life Cycling at Hidden Gems Plus”, the project invites visitors to ride along in the events, which will be held between May and September.
The cyclists will see: Phatthalung’s Talay Noi Wetlands Preserve on May 29; Rayong’s Tung Prong Thong golden mangrove field on June 26; Chaiyaphum’s Pa Hin Ngam National Park (Tung Dok Krajeaw) on July 24; Nakhon Pathom’s Phra Pathom Chedi on August 28; and Lamphun’s Wat Phra That Hariphunchai on September 25.
New state tourism website slated for Q4
The Tourism and Sports Ministry plans to kick off its own website as a new tourism information gateway and sales channel in the fourth quarter to serve growing independent travelers to Thailand.
The website will contain tourism information gathered with the cooperation of the Culture Ministry, the Tourist Police Division and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The government plans to collect, organize and analyze big data to discover useful content for the website.
Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary for Tourism and Sports, said data analytics would make the website different from others in Thailand. The ministry will share information such as tourism demand and traveler trends among other tourism-related agencies, which will use it to create marketing strategies.
The website will also have online booking services after the Pracha Rat (People’s State) initiative approves the creation of a new company to do online travel agent business. The company will be a collaboration with many parties such as the Thai Hotels Association and the Thai Bankers’ Association.
Kobkarn said the website would benefit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism industry as a sales channel to promote their products.
“Many hoteliers rely on big online travel agents to survive. We want to help SMEs so they have more choices,” she said. “All parties can create their own plans similar to this project.” – Bangkok Post
Thai AirAsia to launch Vientiane route on July 1
Thai AirAsia (TAA) confirmed yesterday the launch of Bangkok-Vientiane services to strengthen the carrier’s reach in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Thailand’s largest low-cost carrier (LCC) has set July 1 as the inauguration date for the daily city pair connection with ticket sales also commencing yesterday.
The addition of Vientiane to the low-cost carrier’s routes from Bangkok was made possible by a change in the mindset of Laotian authorities, who now believe LCCs can spur much needed tourism in the country. The move further reflects that protection of their flag carrier flying the route — Lao Airlines — is no longer a given.
TAA operates seven routes in the four countries market, flying from Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport to Yangon (four flights a day), Mandalay (one flight a day), Hanoi (one flight a day), Ho Chi Minh City (three flights a day), Phnom Penh (two flights a day), Siem Reap (three flights a day) and Luang Prabang (one flight a day).
With Vientiane, TAA becomes the LCC with the most flight connections to ASEAN from Thailand, reaching seven ASEAN countries and 15 destinations.
With the addition of Vientiane service, TAA is going to change the face of air travel between the Thai and Laotian capitals in terms of fares, with a promotion starting at 990 baht one-way inclusive of airport tax and fees, being offered until May 8.
Santisuk Klongchaiya, TAA’s director of commercial operations, said the airline received strong feedback from its first connection between Thailand and Laos, with an average load factor of 80-85%. That prompted the airline to quickly add Vientiane as a second connection with Laos, he said. – Bangkok Post
New computer crime law to give govt more control over content
The National Legislative Assembly will today consider a new computer crime legislation, which critics said would lead to more government powers to control the country’s online content, including those on popular social media.
Paiboon Amonpinyokeat, a cyber-law specialist, said an amendment to Article 20 of the Computer Crimes Act, will allow the government to remove content on blogs and websites, as well as social media platforms such as Facebook and Line if they are deemed “inappropriate” or seen to negatively affect peace and order.
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) minister is empowered to appoint a five-person committee to screen online content and seek a court order to remove content deemed as inappropriate. Two of the five committee members will be representatives from the private sector, according to the proposed amendment, said Paiboon, adding the legislation will give more power to the executive branch to judge online content.
In addition, the ICT minister is empowered to set up a committee under Article 17/1 to subject violators to penalties, including fines, if they are found to be guilty of hacking computer systems, which is one of the major offenses subject to an up to two-year imprisonment.
According to Paiboon, computer-hacking cases have significant negative impacts on the economy and should be subjected to criminal prosecution instead of empowering a ministerial-level body to impose fines on wrongdoers.
This will send a wrong signal since these cases should be handled by the courts, according to Paiboon, who said most other countries subject computer-hacking crimes to much stronger punishment but Thailand appears to be treating these crimes more lightly.
On social media, he said, the new legislation will authorize the ICT Ministry to issue ministerial regulations on social media content, and violators will face penalties. As a result, government control will feature prominently in the legislation, similar to the concept of a cybersecurity law.
Paiboon said the proposed legislation should be rewritten to avoid curbing the public right to freedom of expression on social media or else users will turn to overseas hosts of Internet providers to circumvent the regulatory measures on online content. In addition, the policy to promote the digital economy will be negatively affected. – The Nation
Taxi fare rise on hold due to cab cheats
The Transport Ministry is keeping a 5% taxi fare rise on hold after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered the ministry to address the problem of cheating taxi drivers first.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the premier told the ministry to intensify efforts to stop cabbies cheating passengers before asking him to approve the second part of a taxi fare hike. He said Gen Prayut raised concerns after passengers recently complained about cabbies overcharging them, particularly at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Arkhom was speaking after a meeting to discuss the taxi fare hike with Deputy Transport Minister Ormsin Chivapruck and Department of Land Transport (DLT) director-general, Sanit Phromsathit, on Monday.
“The fare hike will be considered based on the quality of service and customers’ satisfaction,” Arkhom said. “If overcharging and the issue of drivers refusing to take passengers persists, the fare increase will remain suspended.”
The DLT says it keeps receiving complaints about taxi drivers who ignore people flagging them down.
Meanwhile, Sanit admitted overcharging, refusing to take passengers, and sexually harassing them, are common complaints. Legal action was also being taken against offending drivers as a way to address the problems.
Arkhom also ordered the DLT to prepare details about the costs and income of taxi drivers, the effect of a fare hike on passengers, and inflation. The information would be forwarded to the ministry early next month, Sanit said.
In 2014, the ministry agreed to raise taxi fares by 13%. However, it only granted an 8% increase, withholding the rest until drivers could prove they had improved their services.
The Transport Ministry suspended introducing the fare rise in March while it looked at tougher punishments for cab drivers, including a 10,000 baht fine. – Bangkok Post