22/ Oct/ 2014 Unknown Foreigner Cuts Wrists on Pattaya Beach, Walks Into Sea The heavily tattooed body of an unidentified foreign male, thought to be aged between 50 and 60 years, was washed ashore in front of Soi 8 after he was spotted floating face-down in the water off Pattaya beach early Tuesday. Witnesses told police they had seen the man "drinking beer on the beach at approximately 1am" and then "cut his wrists before entering the water". According to Pattaya One, the unidentified foreign man had indeed sustained deep cuts to his wrists and had a "shark tattoo on his left shoulder, a dragon tattoo on his right shoulder, tattoos of two birds on his chest and a lion tattoo on his back."
22/ Oct/ 2014 Kuwaiti Tourist Assaulted by Bouncers at Walking Street GoGo Bar A Kuwaiti tourist was reportedly assaulted by bouncers outside the Spice Girls A-GoGo on Walking Street early Wednesday after "venting his frustration that there were no sexy shows as he had been promised by a tout." The 30-year-old military officer from Kuwait was admitted to a local hospital to treat injuries on his head and right arm - wounds that appear to have been caused by beating and knife cuts. One of the bouncers, a 29-year-old Thai man who is employed by Spice Girls A-GoGo, was later arrested.
According to reports by Khaosod English and the Bangkok Post, the Kuwaiti tourist told police that he and and two friends had been visiting Walking Street at around 3am Wednesday morning where they were approached by a Thai man who invited them to see a "sex show" at Spice Girls A-GoGo at an admission fee of 500 Baht each. After entering the bar, however, the three Middle Eastern men realized there were "no naked girls on the stage as they had been promised". When they complained and decided to leave the venue (it remains unclear whether they had already paid to watch a "sex show" that never took place or not), a bouncer reportedly approached his group and began to punch him. Four other guards allegedly joined the fray, beating and kicking the man before fleeing the scene.
22/ Oct/ 2014 Indian Tourist Has Necklace Snatched by Ladyboy on Pattaya Beach A 40-year-old Indian tourist had his gold necklace snatched by a ladyboy in front of the Royal Garden Plaza on Pattaya Beach Road early Wednesday, a "common crime on the streets of Pattaya", as Pattaya One News unfortunately put it correctly. Fortunately for the victim, not only was the 21-year-old ladyboy arrested shortly after, but the stolen necklace was also recovered.
The Indian tourist told police that he had been "walking back to his hotel with a friend when the suspect approached him and hugged him, during which time the theft of the necklace took place." Police suspect the ladyboy is "part of an organized group of ladyboys who prey on Middle East and Asian tourists late at night on Pattaya beach."
22/ Oct/ 2014 Thailand Loses Bid to Join UN Human Rights Council Are we surprised? The Nation reports: "Thailand has failed to secure one of four vacant seats on the UN Human Rights Council, losing out to four others Asian countries, namely India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Qatar ... With only four Asian seats available, Qatar edged out Thailand with 142 votes compared to Bangkok's 136. India got the most votes with 162, Indonesia received with 152, and Bangladesh 149."
The report adds: "The defeat is a blow to Thai government that has [a] coup leader as the prime minister. Prayut Chan-ocha's government has been criticised of violating human rights and continuing to impose the martial law as a means of keeping control of the country."
20/ Oct/ 2014 Two Foreign Tourists Missing, 45 Injured in Speedboat Crash off Phuket Two South Korean tourists are missing and (according to the Bangkok Post) "45 others" injured after a speedboat crashed into a fishing trawler off Yao Yai island near Phuket on Sunday evening. Police said that the speedboat was taking mostly Chinese tourists from Phi Phi island to Phuket. The Bangkok Post adds that "the speedboat was likely to have been travelling at high speed despite heavy rain causing poor visibility." The Nation reports now: "The search resumed on Monday for two South Korean tourists who were still missing after their speedboat crashed into a fishing vessel yesterday afternoon. Several others tourists on the same boat were injured. Police said the speedboat was carrying around 37 foreign tourists ... from China, Korea, Australia, France, Japan, England and Thailand. They were rescued and some were being treated in hospital for joint dislocations, head injuries and rib fractures."
14/ Oct/ 2014 'Martial Law Killing Tourist Arrivals' As the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) appears to think that "martial law is beneficial to tourism" and seeks to "attract foreign tourists to visit Thailand under martial law" (seriously), key tourism groups in Thailand have now reiterated their call for the government to lift martial law in the face of a continued drop in tourist arrivals. The Nation: "Between January and September, international arrivals at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport stood at 9.1 million, down from 11.3 million in the same period last year, according to the Immigration Police Bureau. This shows a 19% decline. The bureau also reported that visitors from all regions, with the exception of Eastern Europe, had plunged by 5 to 30% ... According to the Foreign Ministry's website, as of Tuesday some 50 countries had issued travel advisories in relation to Thailand. ATTA [the Association of Thai Travel Agents] also predicted that the number of arrivals this year would drop by 15-20% judging by less bookings [for] the high season."
The president of the ATTA blames the drop in foreign tourist arrivals mainly on martial: "Foreigners are still unsure about their safety in the country and feel uncomfortable about coming here at a time when martial law is in force. The only way to return confidence would be to lift this law." On the other hand, the martial law-friendly TAT remains confident that Thailand will still see "some 25.6 million" tourist arrivals this year, just "a slight drop over 2013". Wishful thinking?
13/ Oct/ 2014 Frenchman Accused of 'Conducting Sexual Acts' With 14-Year-Old Girl in Pattaya A 46-year-old Frenchman has been arrested by Pattaya police on Friday for allegedly "conducting sexual acts" with a 14-year-old girl. The Thai teenager had reportedly fled from a children’s shelter in Pattaya to stay with a 37-year-old Thai woman who "offered the girl to foreigners" on Pattaya beach. Pattaya One reports that the female pimp "confessed to taking the girl to Pattaya beach where the pair were approached by the Frenchman ... and a price of 700 Baht in exchange for sexual services from the 14-year-old girl were agreed between both parties ..." The underage girl and the Frenchman were eventually caught in a room in Central Pattaya where they were found "in a state of undress".
While the whole story sounds a bit fishy, the Frenchman was charged with "conducting sexual acts with a minor". The female pimp, who conceded that this wasn't been the first time the girl had escaped from the shelter and she sold her to foreigners on Pattaya beach, was reportedly charged with human trafficking.
09/ Oct/ 2014 Crazed Polish Ladyboy Lover Causes Chaos on Soi 6 A Polish ladyboy lover staying in a room above a bar on Soi 6 was arrested Wednesday afternoon after he obviously had an altercation with an object of his desire and then self-harmed and threw items, including himself, from a 3rd-floor balcony. Pattaya One News report: "The incident occurred above and in front of the Solo Club and involved Mr. Denis Leszek. aged 43. who was staying in a 3rd floor apartment above the bar and according to one of the bar workers he had checked in 24 hours before the incident." Mr. Leszek had reportedly taken "a ladyboy up to his room along with a foreign friend. An altercation took place between the ladyboy and Mr. Leszek, during which time it is alleged that Mr. Leszek tried to hit him. The other man in the apartment produced a pepper spray canister and sprayed it at the pair in an attempt to stop the fight. At this point Mr. Leszek became enraged and began to destroy items inside the apartment. He also cut himself on the arm and threw items out of his apartment window onto the street below."
But the story gets even more bizarre; "As bystanders witnessed the altercation from the ground floor, they were shocked to see Mr. Leszek throw himself over his balcony. He fell onto a 2nd floor balcony and then onto the road below and appeared to have suffered no significant injuries. Mr. Leszek then went back up to his apartment and continued to throw items onto the road."
Police eventually arrived on Soi 6 and arrested Mr. Leszek "just as his long-term partner", a 28-year-old ladyboy, arrived and "appeared unsurprised at his actions and claimed he had cheated on [her] on other occasions." Business as usual, eh?
07/ Oct/ 2014 Thai King's Health Improves After the palace reported yesterday that Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej, 86, was "recovering" following Sunday night's operation to remove the ailing monarch's gallbladder, the Royal Household Bureau has now issued a further update. The Nation: "His Majesty the King is conscious and breathing easily after undergoing an operation, said the third statement, issued by the Royal Household Bureau Tuesday night. His heartbeat is nearly back to normal rate, but he still gets fever periodically. He reported pain from a wound near his gallbladder, where a laparoscopy was performed. The King has been receiving medication, saline and liquid food intravenously."
07/ Oct/ 2014 Tourist Arrivals Down 10.28% Year-On-Year Foreign tourist arrivals in Thailand during the first nine months of 2014 have dropped by 10.28% to 17.55 million compared to the same period last year. Revenue from tourism is down 7.55% year-on-year, the Tourism Department revealed today.
The Bangkok Post reports: "Inbound tourist numbers in September were 1.85 million, down 7% from the same month in 2013. The situation had improved from August when arrivals dropped by 11.85% and was much improved from the largest drop in June at 24.37%." The five main sources of tourists in September were China, Malaysia, Japan, Korea and Singapore.
Yes, the situation has "improved" and the drop in tourist arrivals year-on-year in September was not as big as in the previous months. Then again, the numbers are still down year-on-year (and 7.55% is quite a significant drop), so it's just a relative improvement.
07/ Oct/ 2014 Ladyboy Snatches Gold Necklace from Chinese Tourist on Pattaya Beach A 33-year-old ladyboy was arrested on Pattaya Beach Road early Sunday morning after he/she snatched an expensive gold necklace, worth an estimated 90,000 Baht, from a Chinese tourist on Sunday night.
The 43-year-old Chinese man claimed he was "walking along the beach when the suspect approached and embraced [him] which distracted him enough to allow the suspect to snatch [his] gold necklace ..." Pattaya One reports that "police were able to locate and arrest the suspect some hours later on Pattaya Beach in front of Soi 13." Fortunately for the Chinese man, he/she was "still in possession of the necklace" which was returned to the victim during a press conference at Pattaya Police Station. Nonetheless, the ladyboy will still "be dealt with to the full extent of Thai law."
06/ Oct/ 2014 Thai King 'Improving' After Gallbladder Operation Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej, 86, had his gallbladder removed late Sunday night, just two days after the ailing monarch was rushed to Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital with a high fever, a blood infection, and irregular blood pressure, the palace said in a statement Monday morning.
According to the statement by the Royal Household Bureau, doctors had found the king’s gallbladder to be inflamed and "swollen" late Sunday night, prompting a one-hour surgery to remove the organ. Khaosod English and The Nation report that the operation was "successful" and that the king was now recovering in hospital, where "his heartbeat and body temperature had returned to normal". Thailand After The Coup - Latest Updates In brief (for updates please scroll down) >>> - It's nearly five months 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". Latest updates >>> October 8 - The Bangkok Post: "The make-up of the 250-member National Reform Council (NRC) has raised doubts whether the blueprint for national reform will be able to bring about unity ... The NRC is made up mainly of members of the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra Group of 40 Senators, people with close ties to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), and sympathisers of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC)." Khaosod English comments that the NRC, which will also be tasked with forming a committee to draft a new permanent constitution, is "dominated by conservative hardliners opposed to the former government." October 3 - Martial law will apparently not be lifted anytime soon. The Nation: "Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ... declined to say when and whether his government would lift martial law ... A reporter raised the question" during a press conference and the junta chief reportedly "appeared moody to the question, saying it was not time for talking about the [lifting of] martial law."
September 29 - According to media reports, the NCPO has appointed 28 new members to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), more than half of whom are military officers. Khaosod notes that the 28 new lawmakers were all handpicked by the NCPO and that "17 are military officers".