All posts in the BangkokPost category

WFMC to spend up to B7bn on consultants

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

Published: 25 May 2013 at 00.00

The Water and Flood Management Committee (WFMC) is to spend about 6-7 billion baht on hiring consulting firms on five-year contracts.

Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, who chairs the WFMC, said the firms will be hired in two groups to supervise construction projects for the 350-billion-baht water management and flood prevention scheme.

The first group will be hired to manage and supervise design plans, he said.

Interested firms wishing to bid for the contracts must submit two documents, one giving details of their technical experience and the other detailing their fee.

The two documents must be submitted within the next two weeks.

The WFMC will then select the most suitable firms, Mr Plodprasop said.

A second group of consultant firms will be hired before construction work on the projects begin.

About 20-30 consulting firms are expected to be hired.


Aunt denies pimping girl in S. Korea

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon


Published: 25 May 2013 at 00.00

The aunt accused of luring her teenage niece into prostitution in South Korea has turned herself in, police investigating the case said yesterday.

The woman dismissed her niece’s claim, saying she made the story up, they said.

The aunt, Phiangjai Phanpplado, 37, surrendered after arriving at Suvarnabhumi airport from South Korea and denied any wrongdoing, Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTD) chief Pol Maj Gen Chawalit Sawaengphuet said yesterday.

“The accusation is totally groundless. The truth is [the niece] was willing to go to work at the Seoul massage parlour and her mother was also well aware of her daughter’s decision,” Ms Phiangjai said.

She also denied allegations that the massage parlour where the 17-year-old worked was actually a brothel and that the girl was forced to sleep with customers.

The girl’s mother had also worked at the same massage parlour in the past, Ms Phiangjai said.

“Her mother was the one who allowed her to travel to Seoul with me. We hadn’t had any quarrels or problems throughout the girl’s stay in Korea, so I was surprised to learn she had lodged a complaint with police,” the aunt said.

The girl probably wanted to return home but did not tell her and instead told a police officer in Thailand via Facebook, Ms Phiangjai said.

She said she was not considering filing a lawsuit against anyone – neither the police officer who took the girl’s Facebook complaint seriously and sought help rescuing the girl, nor the girl’s parents.

Pol Maj Gen Chawalit said since the girl and her aunt told totally different stories, officers would have to question the girl again.

The girl returned to Thailand on May 18 with the help of Thai authorities in Seoul after the AHTD sought their help.

Police have pressed five charges against Ms Phiangjai, namely human trafficking, procuring prostitutes, procuring prostitutes involving a minor aged under 18, detaining someone for forced prostitution purposes, and forcing someone into something and reaping profits from it.

Government admits law impinges on freedoms

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon


Published: 25 May 2013 at 00.00

Thailand has admitted to the United Nations that the lese majeste law curbs freedom of expression.

The country also admits alleged malpractices regarding migrant labour and the sometimes fatal harassment of human rights defenders.

The admissions are included in a 108-page report detailing government communications with special rapporteurs of the UN. It was recently made available ahead of the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council.

On page 24, there was a short reply on Dec 26, 2012 from the Thai government to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Frank La Rue to questions about cases in Thailand.

Thailand replied that the 2007 Constitution contains the clause: The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated.

No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action, the official reply said.

It also said Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law, was largely applied in a manner and with a frequency which raises concerns. The severity of the punishments received, the absence of exemptions on constitutional or legal grounds and the force it exerts over the judicial system add to the chilling effect on free speech, it said.

Unlike regular defamation cases, which can only be initiated by the damaged party, lese majeste complaints can be lodged by anyone in Thailand, which has led to a sharp increase in cases over the last few years, the reply says.

Thailand conceded that from 2003 to November 2012, 58 lese majeste cases were documented.

The reply also provided the names of the accused which included 11 foreigners.

Though the report itself would not be discussed during the June session of the UN Human Rights Council, member states and non-governmental organisations may refer to this communication during the session, most probably when the UN Special Rapporteur delivers his speech on June 3, a diplomatic source said.

The general communications report also included references to cases of torture in the South, maltreatment of migrant labour and killings of human rights defenders.

In March 2013, Thailand replied to a question about alleged torture and ill-treatment by military officers resulting in death. The reply admitted to the case of Pvt Wichean Phuaksom, who on June 1, 2011 was physically abused and tortured by 10 soldiers at a military training centre in Krom Luang Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra military camp, in Cho Airong district of Narathiwat province.

The abuse was said to be punishment for missing a military exercise. On June 5, 2011 Pvt Wichean died of renal failure as a result of his injuries.

On migrant labour the Thai government replied in February this year to UN questions about alleged negative consequences of the deadline of the nationality verification process for workers from Myanmar.

The reply was that the nationality verification process for Myanmar workers had to be completed by Dec 14, 2012. After the deadline, registration of irregular workers in Thailand would no longer be possible, and that all five Myanmar temporary nationality verification centres would be closed and no longer issue passports or visas.

Only legal workers from Myanmar who enter under a memorandum of understanding process would be permitted. Thai law enforcement authorities would return irregular workers to Myanmar, the reply said.

The nationality verification process has been the subject of previous communications.

In March, Thailand told a UN special rapporteur about the alleged killings of two female human rights defenders – Montha Chukaew and Pranee Boonrat – who were involved in a land dispute between their village and a palm oil company.

The women, who were also members of the Southern Peasants’ Federation of Thailand, were shot dead on Nov 19, 2012 by unknown assassins near their village of Khlong Sai Pattana in Surat Thani province.

Breaking through the disability barriers

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon


A group of parents and supporters based at Siriraj Hospital work for a better future for Down syndrome children

Published: 25 May 2013 at 00.00

In Wang Lang market in Phra Nakhon district, city life hums and throbs and commuters and residents rush about their daily chores. It’s a typical everyday scene.

A group of Down syndrome children perform a ‘Gangnam Style’ dance at the annual meeting of parents and supporters at Siriraj Hospital recently. TAWATCHAI KHEMGUMNERD

But a short distance away, inside a building, a group of people are captivated by a starkly contrasting scene and a much slower pace of life. On a stage, 18-year-old Nong Fah dances slowly and carefully in front of a group of 50 parents and their children.

The event is the 21st annual meeting of children born with Down syndrome and their parents held at Siriraj Hospital recently.

The father of Nong Fah, a 53-year-old teacher who asked not to be named, and all of the people in the room clapped as she completed her performance successfully.

“We gave her special education, such as physical and speech training, since her birth,” he said, to help her delayed physical and mental development.

“I’m glad she is healthy today. It was tough at the beginning and her future worried us.”

Having a Down syndrome child in Bangkok, or indeed anywhere, is a tough call for parents. Most urban folk are busy these days rushing to keep up with meeting their daily requirements such as access to basic education, vocational training and transport.

Health and education authorities seem to pay little attention to creating the special facilities and utilities for people with intellectual disabilities, which the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration estimates at up to 114,000 in the capital.

An exact number is not available as many parents don’t register their children with the government despite benefits such as tax exemption, free healthcare access and rights to loans. The reasons are varied – shame, fear of discrimination, and so on.

The mother of an eight-year-old girl who joined Siriraj’s annual meeting shared her daughter’s experience of being rejected by several schools because of Down syndrome.

Though the child was finally accepted by one primary school, her education is going nowhere. The mother found her educational instructor did not pay attention to the special needs of her daughter. Other students were a priority.

“Urban society tends to see these children as a minority group,” Dr Pornswan Wasant, paediatric geneticist at Siriraj Hospital’s paediatrics department, explained.

Twenty five years ago, she formed a group comprising parents whose children have Down syndrome to educate and instruct them on how to take care of their children.

The group and other groups of disabled people were successful in pushing forward the National Education Act 2002 which opened channels for intellectually disabled children to access schools.

About 104 schools nationwide – 87 in Bangkok – offer places for Down children to study together with normal students.

Ten schools – three in Bangkok – have been established to provide special education for the disabled.

Though many schools are available for Down students, Dr Pornswan pointed out that most of them only graduate students at Prathom 4-6 (Grades 4-6).

Very few special students manage to get to high school or university. After leaving primary school, most of them stay at home.

Their IQ and physical abilities are more likely to decline if they don’t have constant mental and physical training, the experts say.

This is a reflection of the fact that the government has yet to provide enough choices for them to continue their special education and vocational training after graduation, Dr Pornswan said.

Only about 10 special vocational training centres are available in Bangkok with limited personnel resources.

“This is not enough,” Dr Pornswan said. Such centres should be located in every district of Bangkok because Down children have difficulty in travelling alone.

But the regulations governing the centres limit them to accepting only those aged 15-18, which prevents the development of Down kids who need training from a younger age.

In addition, most parents find they do not have enough time to take care of their children and that undermines even further the chance to develop their mental and physical capabilities.

But while struggling with inequitable access to basic facilities and utilities, those with intellectual disabilities in the capital have more chance of gaining work than those in the provinces thanks to generous private companies.

For example, a coffee company recruits the disabled in a serving capacity, while a fashion firm readily hires the intellectually disabled for special tasks.

“The point of getting them a job is not a salary,” said Suchart Owatwansakul, president of the Association for Persons with Intellectual Disability. “It’s to offer them social space, and also to continue their physical and mental development.”

From his experience of working with the intellectually disabled, Mr Suchart has found there is little resistance to hiring them on capability grounds.

Most rejections are based on the problem of commuting to a work place, while some employers only want to hire people who can be competitive with other staff.

To gain social acceptance, said Mr Suchart, parents must be prepared to play a major “coaching” role in their children’s lives, while encouraging their social participation.

This may force parents to leave their jobs. “But I don’t want parents to think of having a Down child as unfortunate,” Mr Suchart said.

“The child could create a big change in their parents’ lives by encouraging them to have more diverse interests. That could be, perhaps, a more pleasant and sedate kind of life.”

Harvesting treetop gold

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

Coconut-collecting macaques are prized down south, but their numbers are declining

Published: 25 May 2013 at 00.00

Monkeys scrambling to the tops of tall palm trees to collect coconuts, or performing tricks to help their masters earn a living, are a popular tourist attraction in the southern provinces.

A macaque is trained from an early age. AMNART THONGDEE

But there is so much more to the value of the monkeys than is immediately obvious to tourists visiting the region, which is a major producer of coconuts in Thailand. A well-trained macaque, therefore, is a prized possession.

To many families, the monkeys are their primary source of income upon which all family members depend.

However, with the number of macaques in the wild dwindling, Boonlert Phetnachak, 62, a former kamnan at tambon Bangmak in Chumphon’s Muang district, has decided that he must do something to reverse the trend.

Four years ago, he bought five male and female macaques from the province’s Phato district and released them into the community forest covering 20 rai near Ban Don Yai in tambon Bangmak.

He hopes this will help to increase the macaque population and produce enough monkeys to help the local residents pick coconuts and sustain their way of life.

With the help of villagers who look after and feed the monkeys, the number in the community has now increased to more than 30.

Mr Boonlert says most of the declining number of wild macaques live in forest reserve areas and natural parks.

The macaques are protected animals and breeding them without permission is prohibited by law, limiting their chances of propagation.

It was for that reason he decided to release macaques into the wild, hoping they would breed naturally. His efforts are paying off.

More than 10 young macaques are now being trained to collect coconuts and his village has become a tourist attraction.

A monkey with the coconuts it picked from a tree.

He said macaques raised to pick coconuts are expensive, costing 20,000-30,000 baht each.

“Beasts of burden, such as cows, buffaloes and elephants are rarely seen now, particularly in the South. Only coconut-picking macaques are still around,” Mr Boonlert says.

“A specific law on monkeys should be passed and a special agency set up to improve the breeding of them.”

Somjai Promthong, 64, is the proud owner of two coconut-picking macaques in Muang district.

He says male macaques are preferred to pick coconuts over females because they are larger and stronger.

Macaques should be trained at a very young age of about five to eight months so they can get used to being around humans and the reins tied around their necks, he said.

“Macaques of the breed from forests in La-un district of Ranong are intelligent and easy to train, unlike those from Prachuap Khiri Khan,” Mr Somjai says.

Features of the best type of macaque are strong and healthy hands and feet as well as a strong set of teeth needed to bite through the stems of the coconut fruit.

Coconut-picking macaques are at their most productive when they are between five and seven years of age.

They are past their prime when they reach the age of eight on average and the pace of their work starts to slow, Mr Somjai says.

But how the monkeys operate also depends on how well their owners look after them, he adds.

“Some owners give their monkeys excessive amounts of energy boosters to drink, which could have side effects such as shortening their life span,” he says.

It is also important for the owners to have the skill and experience to train the monkeys in order to achieve the best results.

Some monkeys can work freely among the tree tops without their owners holding the reins to control them. The monkeys will continue to work on their own until they finish picking all the coconuts, he said.

“Such intelligent monkeys are highly prized and cost at least 50,000-60,000 baht each,” Mr Somjai says.

A medium-sized monkey aged three or four can pick 500-700 coconuts per day, while a large, fully-grown macaque aged five to seven can collect between 900 and 1,000.

A macaque can earn anywhere between 500 baht and 1,000 baht a day for its owner, he adds.

He says his monkeys help him earn enough money to support his family and pay for the education of his children.

“I have two monkeys working for me. I have two children. One of my children has already graduated. The other has almost completed his education,” Mr Somjai says.

Phisarn Phumsang, chief of the natural resources division at the Provincial Office of Natural Resources and Environment in Chumphon, says macaques are among 201 protected species of mammals under the 1992 Wild Animal Preservation and Protection Act.

The law prohibits hunting, trading and smuggling of the protected species. Penalties are a jail term of up to four years and/or a fine of up to 40,000 baht.

The law also bars the breeding of the protected animals without permission. Penalties are imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine of up to 30,000 baht.

However, a more lenient regulation issued by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is now easing the restrictions on breeding.

“Training of macaques to collect coconuts has been part of the local way of life of southern people for a long time. It is hard to enforce strict legal compliance against the practice. A better option is to allow owners to register their monkeys,” Mr Phisarn says.

Boonkuea Thongthae, a specialist at the Chumphon Horticultural Research Centre, said the centre is the only one in the country which researches and compiles comprehensive data on coconuts as well as coconut picking.

He said most coconuts sold and used in household cooking around the country are picked by macaques in the South.

“It is rare to find farmers in the South using a long pole to harvest coconuts from tree tops,” Mr Boonkuea says.

He says the trade in coconuts has become a well-organised business with monkeys and their owners being hired to pick coconuts, while traders buy the fruit from plantations and truck them to factories producing coconut milk.

Mr Boonkuea says a monkey and its owner make 1 baht for each coconut picked and taken to a pickup truck (70 satang for each coconut picked and 30 satang for each coconut taken to a pickup).

A monkey can pick several hundred coconuts a day, making the owner several hundred baht in income.

He said it is estimated that about 1,000 macaques are raised to pick coconuts in Chumphon.

A boy raises a young macaque as a pet before it is ready to enter the coconut picker ‘school’.

A trained macaque picks coconuts from a tall tree in Chumphon. A full-grown macaque can collect between 900 and 1,000 coconuts a day, helping to sustain the local economy.

Local community experts train the macaques to pick coconuts in Ban Don Yai in tambon Bangmak of Chumphon’s Muang district.

Sondhi shooting suspect dies

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

Published: 25 May 2013 at 00.00

The suspected hitman wanted by police for the assassination attempt on People’s Alliance for Democracy leader Sondhi Limthongkul has died of nose cancer.

Sgt Maj Panya Srihera, 47, died at his house in U Thong district of Suphan Buri district Friday. He had no bruises on his body and there were no traces of a struggle in his room.

His relatives said Panya had been suffering from nasopharyngeal cancer for a lengthy period.

Police records showed Panya was No.6 on a list of 75 most-wanted hitmen.

He was wanted on an arrest warrant for alleged involvement in the shooting and possible assassination attempt on Sondhi on April 17, 2009.

According to a police investigation, Panya was a former student at the army’s non-commissioned school’s Class 19. He specialised in using all types of weapons, including explosives.

Panya was previously a member of security teams for several former prime ministers and high-ranking military officers, including former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, ex-premier Surayud Chulanont and former defence minister Chettha Thanajaro.

‘I was tricked,’ says fake officer

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

Published: 24 May 2013 at 20.35

A woman known in her social network as “Captain Notto” has admitted that she has simply been wearing a uniform and pretending to be in the army for the past two years.

Piyamaphon Duangart said she had been living a lie ever since being deceived by people who claimed they could get her into the army after accepting money from her father.

The Royal Thai Army is now investigating whether Second Lieutenant Piyamaphon, 24, is a real officer. She claimed in her Instagram of being a military officer working in the Office of the Army Secretary.

For the past two years Ms Piyamaphon had told people around her that she was a military officer but on Friday she admitted she was not.

The native of Si Sa Ket province said her late father had wanted her to be a soldier. He contacted some officers working with Gen Sathien Permthong-in, the former permanent secretary in the Defence Ministry, to help get her into military service.

She submitted all the necessary documents and was informed that she definitely would be recruited and would start working in the Office of the Army Secretary.

Her father paid “quite a large sum” of money to people he believed would help get his daughter into the military, she said.

Months passed without further progress and then her father died. Ms Piyamaphon later approached the people her father had paid. They took her to Bangkok and provided her with a second lieutenant’s uniform and then arranged for her to attend several social functions.

Ms Piyamaphon was told that when been asked about her job, she should reply that she works with the Office of the Army Secretary.

At the time she believed that she had already got the job, but later when Gen Sathien was replaced in August 2012, the people she had been in touch with told her that they could not get her into the military.

By this time, she said, many people already believed she was an army officer so she decided to continue the fiction. However, some people questioned her true identity and lodged a complaint with the army.

“I want my case to be a lesson to others so they don’t get deceived like me,” she said.

B400m haul of yaba and ice

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

Published: 24 May 2013 at 17.44

CHACHOENGSAO – Police are hunting for suspects after finding almost a million methamphetamine pills and 19 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice” with a street value of almost 400 million baht.

         Police show yaba and ice found at a house in Chachoengsao.

Narcotics suppression officers armed with a warrant and led by Pol Gen Ek Angsananont, a deputy police chief, searched the empty house in tambon Hom Seal of Bang Pakong district.

At first they found no drugs in the house, but alerted by a police dog outside, they dug up the ground below the elevated house and found a total of 990,000 yaba pills and the ice.

No arrests have been made yet.

The house is owned by a woman known only as Kaew. Neighbours told police that a couple has lived in the house for about a year. The man, identified only as Toy, is a taxi driver. Police seized two taxis and a long-tailed boat found on the property.

Officers had been monitoring Mr Toy’s activities for four months before seeking a warrant from the court but he fled before the police arrived.

Information given to the police indicated that Mr Toy is an aide to a local politician in Samut Prakan province. Police searched that politician’s house last week but found no drugs.

Pol Maj Gen Surapol Tuanthong, deputy chief of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, said the house in Chachoengsao probably was being used to store yaba and ice for distribution to dealers in Greater Bangkok.

Aunt disputes ‘rescued’ girl’s story of forced prostitution

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

Published: 24 May 2013 at 17.32

A 17-year-old girl who was helped to leave South Korea after contacting a policeman on Facebook and complaining of forced prostitution will be brought in for further questioning after her aunt gave a different account of events, Pol Maj Gen Pol Maj Gen Chawalit Sawaengphuet said on Friday.

Pol Maj Gen Chawalit, commander of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division, announced this at a press conference after the girl’s aunt, Phiangjai Kim, 37, was taken into police custody on her arrival at Suvarnanabhumi airport on Thursday night from South Korea.

Mrs Phiangjai flew to Thailand on learning that a warrant had been issued for her arrest.

Earlier, the Criminal Court approved warrants for the arrest of Mrs Phiangjai, another Thai woman Thippawan Tempao, 26, and a Korean man Chun Song-kuem, 36.

They were accused of colluding in a plot in which the girl claimed she was offered a restaurant job in Seoul but was instead forced to have sex with customers for 20 hours a day at a brothel fronting as a Thai traditional massage parlour in Seoul.

The girl sent a Facebook message complaining of her plight to a policeman friend in Sakon Nakhon, and with the aid of the Thai embassy and Seoul police was returned to Thailand.

Pol Maj Gen Chawalit said Mrs Phiangjai plead her innocence and gave a different version of events.

She said her niece went to South Korea voluntarily and with her parents’ consent.

The girl’s mother had previously gone to South Korea to work, but her stay lasted only two days because she was arrested and deported by immigration officials, Mrs Phiangjai said.

Mrs Phiangjai said the girl was employed to give massages,  there was no prostitution.

She believed her niece contacted the police officer in Khok Si Suphan district of Sakon Nakhon on Facebook and told a lie because she wanted other people to help bring her back to Thailand.

Mrs Phiangjai said she did not know why the girl did not talk to her and instead caused trouble and dragged her into a legal problem. Her reputation had been tarnished without reason, she added.

Pol Maj Gen Chawalit that since a warrant had already  been issued for her arrest, the aunt would be formally charged and interrogated, and then be taken to the Criminal Court for arraignment.  Once in court she could seek release on bail and then fight the case.

He said because Mrs Phiangjai gave a different account of events, the girl would be again brought in for questioning in the presence of a psychologist, a social welfare worker and a prosecutor.

Mrs Phiangjai has been hit with five charges, including collusion to commit human trafficking and luring and forcing others into prostitution.

4 rangers killed by Pattani bomb pix

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

Published: 24 May 2013 at 12.47

Four rangers were killed and two others wounded by a bomb explosion on a road in Pattani’s Sai Buri district on Friday, reports said.

The overturned patrol vehicle after a bomb in Sai Buri district of Pattani on May 24, 2013 killed four rangers and injured two more.

The attack occurred about 11am as a team of rangers from Rangers Company 4204 was patrolling Highway 1050 near Moo 4 village in tambon Bure.

Those killed were identified as Mst Sgt Chaiyapol Muangkaew, Sgt Mongkol Polpak, and volunteer rangers Anucha Wongsawat and Pichpol Sathong-aen.

Wounded were Capt Subin Puangmanee and volunteer ranger Ronnachit Chaowong.

%d bloggers like this: