Two Chinese arrested for alleged theft from donation box at Bangkok temple

Two Chinese men were caught “red-handed” while apparently stealing from a donation box at a much-respected temple in Bangkok’s Prawet district on Monday.
The suspects were arrested by police immediately after they had allegedly taken Bt890 from a donation box inside the Chao Pho Sua Shrine of Wat Krathoom Sua Pla at 10am.

The two were identified as Mu Yoping, 37, and Chen Xaojung, 39.

Officers from Prawet police station staked out at the spot after an official of the temple filed a complaint that donations from boxes inside the shrine appeared to have been stolen, as there was less money than normal in them even though a large number of Chinese tourists had visited the temple.

Police saw the two suspects arrive and one of them lowered a short flat piece of metal, which was wrapped with adhesive tape and tied to a rope, into a donation box and pulled it out with banknotes and coins attached to it.

The officers then came out of hiding and arrested them.

The two said they had travelled from Shanghai and were staying in the Yaowaraj area, from where they had taken a taxi to visit the temple.

They said their friends had told them that the temple was sacred and that by visiting it their wishes would come true.

They refused to say whether they had stolen from a donation box of a “sacred temple”, police said.


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Net widened after Chiang Mai police nab suspect with 10 million meth pills

Police on Monday morning arrested a drug suspect and confiscated 10.2 million methamphetamine pills in Chiang Mai’s Mae Ai district.

The unnamed suspect was arrested along with the 102 sacks containing drugs in Ban Muser Oko (Moo 6) in Tambon Tha Ton by officers from the Mae Ai and Mae Chan precincts, as well as border patrol policemen, said Mae Ai superintendent Pol Colonel Kamkaew Suyati.

Police have extended their probe as a result of the arrest in a bid to capture accomplices, he added.

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Almost 11,000 killed on roads so far this year

A MEDICAL student and a 10-year-old girl are among the latest victims of Thailand’s notorious roads after their cars crashed head-on in Si Sa Ket province yesterday morning.

The accident killed five people and seriously injured another on a misty day, bringing the spotlight once again on Thailand’s need to promote road safety.

At least 10,794 lives have already been claimed this year, highlighted Dr Taejing Siripanich, secretary-general of the Don’t Drive Drunk Foundation.

That figure is not a full count of the dead, Taejing said yesterday. It is based on statistics compiled between January 1 and October 21, and takes into account only deaths recorded at the actual accident scene.

“This means road fatalities are actually higher because some victims succumb to injuries later in hospital.”

He felt compelled to speak out after several major road accidents over the past weekend. On Sunday, a van skidded off a road, crashed into a roadside tree and caught fire in Kamphaeng Phet province, killing nine Myanmar workers and injuring six others including a Thai driver.

Also on Sunday, a car banged into the railing of a bridge in Ayutthaya province, killing six. Another car, meanwhile, plunged into a creek in Nong Khai province, killing four.

In Khon Kaen province, a bus carrying 32 people overturned on a road. Though all victims were quickly rushed to hospitals, one died during hospitalisation. The lone fatality, Narin Wangcharoen, 20, was a law student at Mahasarakham University.

“Her family will receive Bt650,000 compensation,” Khon Kaen Governor Somsak Changtragul said.

As of press time, eight victims remained hospitalised due to serious injuries. “Two of them are in critical condition,” he said after visiting the victims. According to Somsak, the bus was covered by insurance and carried the legally required safety equipment. The bus driver also passed a blood-alcohol test.

“So, the accident might have occurred because of the slippery road,” he said.

Land Transport Department director-general Peerapol Thavornsupa-charoen said the van at the centre of the fatal road accident in Kamphaeng Phet, however, had apparently violated laws. “Laws prohibit a van from carrying more than 14 passengers. But at the time of the accident, this van had 15 persons,” he noted.

According to Peerapol, 55-year-old van driver and owner Promwat sae Phu will be fined Bt55,000, and slapped with 180-day suspension of his driving licence plus a six-month suspension of his operating licence.

Peerapol said if Promwat was also found to have deliberately jammed the van’s GPS system, he would face an additional fine of Bt55,000. Authorities use data from GPS devices to check the speed of public-transport vehicles. However, the van’s GPS system had not delivered consistent data, raising suspicions that Promwat may have been speeding at the time of the Sunday morning accident.

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Prawit denies any links with cashiered Chinese generals

DEPUTY PREMIER and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday denied any connections with two senior Chinese generals who were recently stripped of their military ranks and Communist Party membership over corruption allegations.

General Prawit, who is in charge of security affairs, said the media often made “untrue allegations” about him and caused him to become “the weakest link” within the ruling junta – the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Media reports said the disgraced Chinese generals – Fang Fenghui and Zhang Yang – had come to Thailand to discuss China’s sales of military hardware to the Thai military.

However, Prawit yesterday maintained that he had neither met the Chinese generals nor knows them personally.

“I don’t know the two generals in question. The person who came to meet me was Meng Jianzhu, who has already retired. I am familiar with him,” Prawit said.

Before his retirement last year, Meng had served as the secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China. He also headed China’s Central Public Security Comprehensive Management Commission.

Prawit said yesterday that the purchases by the Armed Forces were carried out in the form of government-to-government deals, with no involvement of any private company.

He maintained that the purchases were done by the Armed Forces and that the NCPO was not involved.

Massive corruption

The Chinese government last Tuesday announced it was stripping the two generals of their ranks and party membership.

“The violations are very serious and the scale of the corruption is huge. It caused serious damage,” according to a statement released through state news agency Xinhua.

Fang, the former chief of joint staff, is under investigation in a corruption case involving more than 100 million yuan (Bt500 million).

The statement from the Central Military Commission said Fang, 66, had seriously violated political discipline and central government rules that ban extravagance and taking bribes.

Separately, the commission also said Zhang, a former head of its political work department, had been stripped of his rank as general and his party membership. Zhang, 66, hanged himself at his home in Beijing in November 2017 when he was being investigated.

“Zhang attempted to escape punishment through committing suicide. This has seriously damaged the party and the army,” the statement said.

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Prisoners to have smokes taken away within months

All prisons will become smoke-free in the near future as the Corrections Department is preparing to fully comply with the upcoming stricter tobacco law.

“We believe the new law will come into effect late this year or early next year,” the department’s director-general Naras Savestanan said on Monday.

More than 300,000 people are now living behind bars at 143 correctional facilities across Thailand. About 40 per cent are smokers.

“Smoking is directly related to respiratory illnesses, which often cause death,” Naras said.

He was speaking after a meeting with the Disease Control Department’s (DCD) chief. The discussions were aimed at ensuring prisons are prepared to comply with the strict new tobacco law.

DCD has offered to send their staff into the prisons to help inform inmates about how to quit smoking.

Cigarettes are still being sold in prisons. Cigarettes will be banned, along with smoking them, throughout correctional facilities once the new law comes into effect.

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Alcohol sales forbidden on October 24 for end of Buddhist Lent

Sales of alcohol will be strictly prohibited this Wednesday, October 24, which marks the end of Buddhist Lent this year.

Offenders will face a Bt10,000 fine and/or a six-month jail term.

“The ban on alcoholic sale applies to both shops and restaurants, retailing and wholesaling,” the Royal Thai Police deputy spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen said on Tuesday.

He said police would strictly enforce the ban, which is imposed in line with an announcement of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Alcohol Control Act. According to the announcement, no alcoholic sale shall be allowed on religious days.

Alcohol consumption is considered a sin in Buddhist belief.

According to Krissana, police plan to check on restaurants, karaoke parlours, and convenience stores based at petrol stations to ensure compliance with the rules.

Krissana also asked for tip-offs from the public. “If you find anyone or any place violating the ban, please alert police by calling 191 or 1559. Our hotlines operate round the clock,” he said.


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Fiery van crash kills nine Myanmar migrants

SEVERAL MYANMAR workers smashed glass windows with their heads and fists to get out of a van that crashed into a tree and soon caught fire in Kamphaeng Phet province yesterday morning. But nine of them could not escape in time and were consumed by the flames.

“I was woken up by the crash impact and did my best to break out,” a survivor said from his hospital bed at Khlong Khlung Hospital.

Five other van victims are injured, including 55-year-old Thai driver Promwat sae Phu. Due to serious injuries, two of the victims were transferred to the better-equipped Kamphaeng Phet Hospital later in the day.

Upon receiving the accident report, firefighters rushed to extinguish the fire engulfing the van on Paholyothin Road in Kamphang Phet’s Khlong Khlung district, only to find the nine people dead inside, huddled together in the front seats as if struggling to escape.

Pol Lt-Colonel Natthawut Somchaimongkol, the deputy superintendent of Khlong Khlung Police Station, said the van was heading for Mae Sot district in Tak province. An initial investigation found the van might have skidded off the highway due to heavy rains in the area, he added.

Forensics specialists were gathering evidence at the scene and will interview the survivors to try and determine the cause of the accident. Preliminary examination suggested the crash occurred in heavy rain either because the driver lost control on the slippery road surface or fell asleep behind the wheel. Several fatal accidents have occurred on the same section of the road, which is long and straight where drivers are prone to be less alert or even fall asleep.

It is believed that the van might have been on its way to take the Myanmar nationals to a border checkpoint in Tak province to process documents needed for them to return to work in Thailand.

The van was taking the Myanmar passengers from Phetchaburi province.

The bodies of the deceased victims are now kept at Khlong Khlung Hospital.

“Families of the deceased will get Bt300,000 compensation,” Kamphaeng Phet Governor Chaowalit Saeng-uthai said after visiting the injured victims at the hospitals.

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Simple tips to combat sexual predators

A PEN OR a mobile phone can be good enough everyday items for self-defence in cities where one in two women experience sexual harassment in public transport.

According to a self-defence master, a metal pen can go a long way in protecting women against a strong man.

Poking the pen deep into their muscles, the knuckles, or bones can inflict unimaginable pain on the perpetrator, said Kittichet Mayakarn, an experienced self-defence instructor at JDT Combative, during a self-defence lab held by Safe Cities for Women Network at Crossover Gym yesterday.

“Choose a sturdy pen, one that doesn’t break easily and, if possible, aim for the chest or the collar bone,” he advised. “But avoid poking the pen in the eyes, unless absolutely necessary because it is a criminal offence,” he cautioned.

Regarding the use of a mobile phone as a defence weapon, Kittichet recommends using the hard case to smash the side of the head or to smash the hand that grabs you.

“The goal of such an attack is to create an opportunity for a safe escape, as men are physically stronger. Slap his ear to disorient him. Make sure that you also give a knee thrust into the crotch, and the face, and stomp on the ankle of the attacker,” he said.

But most importantly, Kittichet said, try to avoid having to employ the weapons in the first place. “When harassed, looking directly into the eyes and not acting like a victim gives the man a clear warning: ‘Mister, you are touching me’. If you find a woman being harassed, ask her loudly, ‘Are you alright?’”

“A verbal warning will turn the eyes of other passengers to you and the harassed woman and would immediately stop the perpetrator,” he said. The self-defence lesson was given to about a hundred #teamphueak (nosy team) members, mostly young women, who aim to be “nosy” and lend a helping hand to women molested in public transport. The team and the self-defence workshop were arranged by Safe Cities for Women network to equip the volunteers with claws and fangs to curb sexual harassment. All around Thailand, there are about 500 #teamphueak members.

The Safe Cities for Women Network comprises ActionAid Thailand, Thai Health Promotion Foundation, Sexuality Studies Association and Four Regions Slum Network.

In Bangkok 45 per cent of female passengers reported being sexually harassed, according to a 2017 survey by Safe Cities for Women. Of these 15.4 per cent reported being touched or groped.

The harassment occurs most in public buses (50 per cent), followed by motorcycle taxis (11.4 per cent), taxis (10.9 per cent), vans (9.8 per cent), and BTS Skytrain (9.6 per cent). Buses, cars, vans and trains have a confined nature, which is conducive to harassment. But motorcycle taxis are no less safer, as the figure above shows.

Many reported that bike taxi drivers deliberately applied the brakes suddenly so that the woman’s breast would bump into the driver’s back. There were some reports that the drivers used a hand to touch their thigh, explained Varaporn Chamsanit, manager of Women’s Wellbeing and Gender Justice Programme, Sexuality Studies Association.

To fight the predators, the network aims to raise more awareness and recruit more #teamphueak members, said Rungtip Imrungruang, programme and policy manager at ActionAid Thailand.

“We must create a society where people are the watchdogs and are ready to provide support to people in need,” she said.

In the next step, Safe Cities for Women will aim to educate schoolgirls, who often become victims of sexual harassment, she revealed.

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Police preparing speedy immigration process

Immigration police are stepping up efforts to prepare their personnel and procedures for the expected influx of tourists in and out of the country during long holiday periods, including the New Year’s festival, deputy police spokesman Pol Colonel Choengron Rimpadee said.

The plan, called Nanfah (territorial sky) 13/61, is being initiated as a proactive strategy to facilitate immigration procedures including checking passports for Thai and foreign people during the crowded period at international airports in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai.

He said acting Immigration police commissioner Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakpal had ordered the measures to accommodate foreign tourists coming to Thailand as part of efforts to boost tourism in the country during the upcoming holidays.

The plan is expected to solve the problems of overcrowding caused by arrivals of flights at the same time.

Personnel from immigration section at the points of entry will be deployed to help the immigration works if needed in order to speed up the procedures, Choengron said.

However, he said the speeding up of procedures will not open up opportunities for ill-intentioned groups.

It is expected that the plan will be able to help speed up the immigration process, he added.

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Woman killed, another injured in Prachin Buri lightning strike

One woman was killed and another severely injured when they were struck by lightning in Prachin Buri’s Prachantakham district Sunday evening.

The Prachantakham police were alerted of the incident, which occurred in Khao Yai National park at 4pm and alerted the Bamphen Thammasathan Foundation, which sent a team to retrieve the body and evacuate the injured woman.

Another woman, Kularb Sopha, 63, who was slightly injured, sought help at a nearby village for her two friends.

Kularb said the three woman had climbed up the heavily forested hill to collect the edible stems of a wild herb (Dioscorea filiformis) and were returning home in the rain.

The lightning strike killed Sanit Salee, 44 and severely injured Kham Nangkangkul, 71. Sanit had a burn on the back of her neck while Kham could not move her right arm and right leg.

Kularb said she and the two other women were walking in single file. She was in front and Sanit was bringing up the rear when she heard a loud clap of thunder and lost consciousness. When she came round, she discovered that Sanit was dead and Kham was injured so hurried out of the forest to seek help.

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