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Pattaya & Thailand News Update

New Stricter Visa Regulations  -  Latest Updates
Thailand After The Military Coup  -  Latest Updates

18/ Dec/ 2014
German, Thai Woman Shot By 'Jealous' Thai Boyfriend
A jealous Thai man shot and injured his Thai girlfriend/wife and her German boyfriend at a restaurant in Chonburi city early Thursday and was then shot dead by a police officer dining at the same place.
The 54-year-old local administrative official in Chonburi reportedly arrived outside the restaurant around midnight and waited inside his car in front of the restaurant for his girlfriend and her new German friend to leave. He first talked to the couple for a while and then pulled out a .38 pistol and fired six shots at them.
The 51-year-old German sustained gunshot wounds to his waist and his left leg and was admitted to intensive care. His 38-year-old Thai "girlfriend" was wounded in both legs. According to medical workers, the Thai woman and German man are in "severe" condition.
After the shooting, the gunman ran to this car. Several policemen who were also eating at the restaurant reportedly ordered him to drop his weapon, which he refused. One policeman then ran after him and tried to arrest him; but the gunman instead fired two shots at the officer, who returned fire, killing him.
Police found a handwritten note in the car explaining that the jealous man had recently discovered his girlfriend was "cheating" on him with a German man. Police records also indicate that he was previously arrested in 2013 for shooting and killing a fellow local administrative official who allegedly flirted with his girlfriend. He was charged with murder but released on bail. Sources: Khaosod English, Bangkok Post

17/ Dec/ 2014
Foreign Tourist Arrivals Up 2.5% in November, But ...
To start with the good news: Foreign tourist arrivals to Thailand in November have risen by 2.5% from a year earlier, making it only the second month this year in which tourist arrivals have increased.
The "bad" news: This ostensible upward trend was triggered exclusively by a 59% surge in arrivals from China - the country's largest tourist source market - whose half a million visitors accounted for 21% of all foreign tourist arrivals in November.
Meanwhile, arrivals from all other regions of the world have continued to decline, and the total number of tourist arrivals for the first 11 months of the year now stands at a meagre 21.94 million, a "decline of 8.6% from the same period last year".
Based on figures released by the Department of Tourism, the Bangkok Post reports: "The China figures pushed up overall arrivals from East Asia by 10.8% in November. However, arrivals remained weak from other large markets. Japan was down 12.4% on the month and 19% for the year to date, while South Korea fell 20.6% in November and 15% for the first 11 months. As well, arrivals from Malaysia, which accounts for 11% of all visitors to the country, were down 10.3% in November ..."
As for Farang arrivals to Thailand: "Significantly, arrivals from Europe fell 9.5% in November from a year ago, even though November is the start of the high season for travel from northern hemisphere countries. For the year to date, arrivals from Europe, which accounts for 24.5% of all tourists to Thailand, are down 1.7%." This indicates that the decrease in tourist arrivals from Europe (including Russia) was even bigger in November than in the previous months.
The same accounts for arrivals from other key markets like Australia or the United States: "Arrivals from the Americas were down 8.5% in November and have fallen 6.3% in the first 11 months. Arrivals from Oceania, including Australia and New Zealand, were down 12.4% for the month and 7.1% for the year to date."

15/ Dec/ 2014
Russian Woman Hit by Stray Bullet As Police Chase Bag Snatchers in Jomtien
A 27-year-old Russian woman was accidentally shot in her ankle by a stray bullet as police were chasing two Thai boys who had earlier snatched a bag from another Russian tourist on Jomtien Second Road.
The two bag snatchers, aged 17 and 18, were reportedly chased by police but "continually refused to stop despite police shouting at them and threatening to shoot ..."
As the chase approached the traffic lights at the junction of Thappraya and Thepprasit Road in Jomtien, one of the two policemen reportedly opened fire at the two suspects who "fell from their bike and were arrested." They obviously only suffered minor injuries.
Unfortunately, Pattaya One reports, a pick-up truck parked nearby was also hit by a stray bullet and the "officers were shocked when they heard the screams of a Russian woman" who had obviously been shot in her ankle by the bullet. The 27-year-old woman was immediately taken to hospital where she "required emergency surgery to insert a metal plate in her ankle. Doctors confirmed she would need up to six months of ongoing treatment for her injury.

15/ Dec/ 2014
American Stabbed As He Tries to Stop French-Thai Couple From Fighting
A 36-year-old American man was stabbed in his back by a Thai woman after he intervened in a domestic dispute between the woman and her foreign husband on Soi Buakhao Sunday afternoon.
The 21-year-old was reportedly "having a heated argument" with her French husband, 28. Pattaya One News report that the couple's three-year-old daughter was "crying as she watched her parents fight."
The American was reportedly walking by and decided to intervene in the dispute. But as he attempted to stop the couple from fighting, he ended up fighting himself with the Frenchman who was "smaller and clearly no match" for the American.
Obviously to protect her husband she had been arguing with only seconds earlier, the Frenchman's young Thai wife suddenly "produced a knife she was carrying in her bag" and stabbed the American in his back until he "dropped to the ground and ceased fighting with her husband". The American reportedly suffered multiple stab wounds to his back which are not thought to be life-threatening.

14/ Dec/ 2014
Latvian Tourist Arrested at Border Checkpoints for Using "Fake Visa Stamps"
A Latvian tourist was arrested at the border checkpoint at Nongkhai's Friendship Bridge on Saturday for having "fake" exit and re-entry visa stamps in his passport.
The Nation reports that the 26-year-old tourist was arrested as he was leaving the kingdom for Laos. He had reportedly entered Thailand for the first time on April 27 and, after his 30 days of visa-exempt stay had expired, hired a visa agent in Pattaya to illegally obtain a visa without himself leaving the country. He claimed he didn't know that the exit and entry stamps the agent used in his passport to pretend that he had done a visa run were "fake".

13/ Dec/ 2014
Thai Crown Prince Divorces His Wife
The wife of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has relinquished her royal status, effectively ending her 13-year marriage to the 62-year-old heir apparent, according to a statement announced in the Royal Gazette Friday night: "The King has granted permission to announce that Princess Srirasmi, the wife of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, has informed in a written document that she has resigned from her royal status," the brief statement says.
Srirasmi, 43, the crown prince's third wife, married the prince in 2001 and would have been expected to become queen when the crown prince succeeded his father. The couple have a nine-year-old son who was thought to be the crown prince's most likely heir. There has been no official announcement of a divorce, but their separation is being seen as inevitable. The status of the nine-year-old son, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, remains unknown for now.
The former princess has reportedly not been granted any honourary titles after she rescinded her royal status, as documented by photos of her new national ID card which identifies her simply as Ms. Srirasmi Suwadee. Srirasmi's new home address is registered in Ratchaburi province, indicating that she has also moved out of the Crown Prince's royal palace in Bangkok.
The announcement comes two weeks after the crown prince stripped several of his wife's family members of their royally bestowed surname after they were arrested on charges of corruption and lese majeste.

05/ Dec/ 2014
Thai King Celebrates 87th Birthday on Friday, December 5
On Friday, Thais celebrate the 87th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest reigning monarch. On this occasion, it was announced Wednesday afternoon, Their Majesties the King and Queen, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and other royal family members, would appear for a much-awaited public audience at the Grand Palace in Bangkok Friday morning. Only after doctors examined his medical condition Thursday night and decided he was "not well enough" to attend, the Royal Household Bureau issued another statement canceling the revered monarch's public appearance.
While the cancellation has put a damper on public birthday celebrations, it has not come as a shock to most people. The king has been hospitalized since early October when he had his gall bladder removed and has been visibly ailing for the last several years. On 13 November, the palace said His Majesty was also suffering from an intestinal infection, but that his overall health was improving.
King Bhumibol's birthday is a national holiday and also celebrated as "Father's Day". In order to pay respect to the revered monarch, it is expected that bars around Pattaya will be ordered to "tone down" their usual activities.

05/ Dec/ 2014
Six Russians Arrested As District Officials Raid Illegally Run Tour Companies
Four Russian tour companies in Pattaya were raided Thursday night and six Russian nationals arrested for allegedly working without work permits.
Pattaya One reports: "In each case a Russian was used, armed with marked bank notes, who would purchase tour packages from the illegal foreign workers. As soon as the transaction was complete, officers would move in and recover the marked notes as evidence of the Russians working illegally ... A total of six Russian nationals were detained ... The foreign nationals were all unable to produce Thai work permits and will later be transferred to Chonburi Immigration in Jomtien and could be deported to Russia if it is confirmed they were working in Thailand without a work permit."

29/ Nov/ 2014
Australian Tourist Drugged, Robbed by Two Thai Women in Pattaya
A 46-year-old Australian teacher visiting Pattaya for the first time and staying in Naklua was reportedly drugged and robbed of 550 euros by two Thai women early on Saturday.
According to the Bangkok Post, the Australian told police he had been "walking alone in a shopping area in Pattaya" late Friday night when he was "approached by two women who offered him sex services. He accepted and took them for drinks and snacks at a nearby shop."
"At the shop, he ordered three cans of beer. He then went to the washroom and returned to his table less than five minutes later. He continued drinking his beer and shortly afterward felt drowsy. He said he then hired a motorcycle taxi driver to take him and the two women to his room, where he fell unconscious. When he woke up, he found his belongings were scattered. His cash, totalling 550 euros kept in a travel bag, had disappeared, leaving only a 20-baht banknote in his bag."
Police assume the women have spiked the man's beer with sleeping pills when he went to the toilet and robbed him after he passed out in his room.

29/ Nov/ 2014
Nigerian Social Media Scammer Arrested by Pattaya Police
A 34-year-old Nigerian national was arrested at an apartment complex in South Pattaya Friday morning for allegedly scamming money from Thai women on social media platforms. Police also seized several bank books in the names of Thai nationals who he had reportedly paid to open accounts for him to use.
Pattaya One reports that the Nigerian man would "chat with Thai females on Facebook and other social media platforms and would claim he worked as a pilot and was currently in need of money to pay for a release fee for a large quantity of US dollars which had been seized by Thai customs. He promised the victims they would receive a share of the money when it was released. He used pictures of another man with a similar appearance to the suspect, which were posted on his profile page."
As police are still waiting for any victims of the scam to come forward and report to police, the suspect has for now been charged with visa overstay pending further enquiries.

27/ Nov/ 2014
Thai Election Pushed Back to 2016 ...
A fresh general election which had earlier been tentatively scheduled for late 2015 will now reportedly be delayed until 2016 because of continued opposition to the junta.
The Nation quotes Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan as telling reporters on Thursday: "We will be able to organise elections around the start of 2016 once the constitution is drafted. Right now there are elements opposed to the National Council for Peace and Order."
In an interview with the BBC, the Thai finance minister even hinted that elections might "not take place for another 18 months". His "feeling" was that "it may take maybe a year and a half"; a delay that would have Thailand not see a return to democracy until, perhaps, mid-2016. He also said there was "no end date for martial law" which was still needed for "security" reasons. Which all brings up the question whether elections could be even further delayed if opposition to the coup persisted?

Thailand After The Coup
- It's half a year now since army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, on May 22, seized power from the elected government in the country’s 12th successful coup since 1932. The constitution was suspended and, in late July, replaced with an interim constitution, which grants amnesty to the coup makers and gives the junta, aka the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), sweeping powers. On July 31, Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej endorsed the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), whose 200 members were all appointed by the junta. A clear majority is dominated by active and retired military officers. On August 21, the NLA unanimously appointed junta/army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha as the new prime minister of Thailand. On August 31, Prayuth received royal endorsement for his 32-member cabinet. More than a third of the members are retired or active military and police officers and members of the NCPO. The coup has drawn widespread yet mostly ignored criticism from the international community, including the United States and the European Union, which has urged a quick return to electoral democracy.
- A nationwide night-time curfew imposed following the military intervention on May 22 was lifted on June 13. Martial law, imposed two days before the coup, however remains in force until further notice. Protests against the coup and political gatherings of five people or more are strictly illegal under martial law. Criticism of the NCPO and the coup are also deemed illegal. Tourists and expats are strongly advised to stay away from anti-coup protests. Foreigners have also been advised against criticizing the junta and the coup, including on social media, and making dissident political statements. Aside from the curfew, the coup has had no relevant impact on tourism. Airports, border checkpoints etc. have continued to operate as usual and the country remains safe for tourists.
- The interim constitution has been heavily criticized for being undemocratic and further strengthening the military's powers. In particular, the interim constitution puts NCPO/army chief Prayuth "in charge of national security, allowing him to suppress any action ... that could be considered a threat to national peace, security, economy or the monarchy ... all orders from the junta chief ... on those matters are final." The constitution further stipulates that all of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)'s members would be appointed by the junta. While the interim constitution fails to precisely specify a time frame for the country's promised return to democracy following the implementation of vaguely defined political "reforms", a new general election is scheduled to be held not before October 2015; provided the situation is sufficiently "stable" and the junta-appointed government has accomplished its self-proclaimed task of achieving "reconciliation". When a new permanent charter is in place (likely not before summer 2015 and without a referendum) the junta hopes that its attempts at reforming the politically divided nation would ultimately lead to a government "all people can accept".
- On July 31, Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej officially endorsed the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), whose 200 members were all appointed by the NCPO. A clear majority is dominated by active and retired military officers. The rest mostly consists of businesspeople, academics, technocrats and former appointed senators who opposed the ousted government and are known for their anti-Thaksin stance. Junta chief Prayuth responded to "criticism that the NLA was not democratically set up", by saying that under the new government, there would be "temporary Thai-style democracy".
- On August 21, the junta-appointed NLA unanimously appointed junta/army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha as the new prime minister. No other candidate was nominated for the post, and no lawmaker voted against Prayuth's appointment. On August 31, Prayuth received royal endorsement for his 32-member cabinet. More than a third of the members - 12 - are retired and active military and police officers and members of the NCPO, while the civilian portion includes longstanding allies of the military. Despite the formation of a semi-civilian interim government and Prayuth's appointment as new prime minister, the junta has reaffirmed that it would not revoke martial law any time soon.
- The junta explained the military takeover by telling the foreign media it had to launch the coup because political divisions had put the country at risk of "civil war". The NCPO said it sought to "return happiness" to the people and establish reconciliation and national unity; aims they were determined to achieve by stamping out "colour-coded" (red/yellow) political divisions and the influence of Thaksin Shinawatra, and by depoliticizing Thai society.
- Following the military's power seizure, the media were strictly advised to self-censor themselves and prohibited from disseminating "content prohibited by the junta". All TV stations, including foreign news channels, were banned on the day of the coup (most were allowed to resume operating later). A total of 14 partisan TV channels with links to political parties and groups were only allowed to resume broadcasting weeks after the military takeover and on the condition that they strictly follow the rules set by NCPO, i.e. refrain from disseminating "prohibited content" and criticizing the junta and its operations.
- On June 25, the NCPO announced they had set up five panels to monitor all kinds of media, including radio broadcasts, television, print, online and social media, and foreign media, for content that is considered to be "inciting hatred towards the monarchy" or providing "false information". As the junta seeks to muzzle all kind of dissent, any media found to be spreading "inappropriate content" will face criminal charges. On July 18, the NCPO issued another announcement reiterating its restrictions on freedom of speech, in which it threatened to shut down and take legal actions against any media, including social media, that criticize the NCPO and disseminate "content prohibited by the junta". Social media users, blogs and websites have been explicitly warned not to post any content and comments that could "incite unrest". A temporary Facebook outage on May 28 prompted a swift outcry among Thai Internet users but was officially blamed on a "technical glitch". An "online content monitoring committee" has since reportedly been set up to monitor and block "inappropriate content" on the web. The junta has openly acknowledged they were seeking tighter censorship of the Internet and especially social media.
- Since May 22, the ruling military junta has launched a wide crackdown on dissent aimed principally at elements aligned with controversial ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra. More than 500 former government politicians, protest leaders and dissident voices, mostly with links to the "red shirt" movement, have been summoned to report to the NCPO and detained since May 22. Opponents of the coup are reportedly to undergo an "attitude re-adjustment" process while in detention. Most of the detainees have been released after 3-7 days but have been barred from political activism and expressing dissident political opinions.
- In a wider crackdown on dissidents and political opponents, at least 155 political figures and activists have been banned from leaving the country or face arrests. Dozens of prominent academics and activists have been summoned to report to the junta; those who defy the order also face fines or arrest. As the coup leaders seek to prevent a possible fightback against the coup, an unknown number of regional "red shirt" leaders and activists in Northern and Northeast Thailand have been detained; several "red shirt" militants have also been arrested. On June 1, 38 political figures, many of them left-leaning activists and critics of the lese majeste law, were summoned to report to the junta. Another 21 activists and academics, many of them lese majeste suspects living in exile, were summoned by the junta on June 4. A number of academics and activists have decided to stay in hiding rather than report to the junta. The NCPO has also announced that violators of the controversial lese majeste law and junta orders, as well as violators of internal security laws, will face court-martial proceedings. More than a dozen new lese majeste cases have reportedly been filed since the military takeover. Arrest warrants have also been issued for several lese majeste suspects living in self-imposed exile and their passports have been revoked. The NCPO has also revoked the passport of a noted Japan-based academic who has been highly critical of the coup from abroad and failed to heed a summons issued by the junta. Dozens of state officials, provincial governors etc., aligned with the deposed government have been transferred to inactive posts since the coup.
- Following a week of small anti-coup protests mainly in Bangkok immediately after the coup, no larger coordinated protest activities have been reported since. As criticism of the junta is virtually illegal and the NCPO has explicitly warned people against joining anti-coup protests or face arrest and detention, all dissent has been effectively silenced for now and/or forced to "go underground".
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