The Eternal Childhood

Another shooting incident, this time right in the middle of downtown Bangkok, 2 university students were waiting for the bus when a motorbike carrying a gunman opened fire on them. The female student was fatally wounded. The male student is recovering in hospital.

BANGKOK: — A WELL-LOVED female student from the Rajamangala University of Technology Uthenthawai Campus was fatally shot in the heart of Bangkok late on Tuesday night in what could be the latest crime related to school rivalry. Another student from the same campus was also shot, but managed to get away with injuries to his right arm.

The campus has suspended classes for three days in the wake of the shooting.

Police believe either school rivalry or personal conflict may have been behind the shooting. According to witnesses, some 40 people were waiting for a bus near Pathuwam intersection in heavy rain when they heard gunshots.

CCTV recordings show two people on a motorcycle, both wearing raincoats and crash helmets, stopping by at the bus stop at the time of the shooting.

“We will check images from other security cameras in the area,” Pathumwan Police Station’s deputy superintendent Lt-Colonel Panom Chua-thong said yesterday.

The victims were identified as Kankanit Promkaew and Wachirawit Senkhram, both of whom were second-year engineering students at the campus.

Kankanit, 20, succumbed to heavy blood loss on her way to hospital, though Wachirawit is in a safe condition. Their friends said the two had left school late due to the rain, and were waiting for a bus home when the shooting took place.

Kankanit’s classmates and teachers fondly remember her as a friendly and nice person who often took part in extra-curricular activities. Her teachers even wrote a poem to express their grief and posted it at the campus. One line reads: “Your passing has broken teachers’ hearts … May you rest in peace”.

The young student’s funeral is currently under way at Pailom Temple in Chai Nat’s Sapphaya district.

Meanwhile, police will have the parents of street racers, who had been arrested over the past three years, sign a memorandum of understanding in a bid to stop them from racing on public roads. Police are also calling on motorcycle shops to not sell accessories to young people.

Deputy Metropolitan Police chief Pol Maj-General Adul Narongsak said police were getting ready a list of names and preparing an MoU for the parents to sign, promising they will not let their children race on the streets again.

After the MoUs are signed, parents will face charges if their children are caught racing.

Adul urged everybody to get involved in solving the city’s problems, as there weren’t enough traffic police officers to cover every area of Bangkok.

Girl With Gun

As usual, we see the lame actions by the authorities which do not address the root of the problem of violence and other impulsive acts in Thai society. If the parents can’t stop their 20-year-old “kids” racing on motorbikes, buying guns and shooting people, getting them to sign MOUs is not likely to solve the problem unless these “kids” are even worried that their parents end up in jail. The major problem with Thai society is that it emphasizes too much on superficial and “cosmetic” values like kreng jai, soo parp, riab roy. Parents assume that as long as there are schools and temples around, teaching people how to appear virtuous, they will somehow end up virtuous. That’s the root of the problem.

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Generally Speaking

Farangs relying on visa runs to stay in Thailand had reason to panic. The military junta announced in June that it was cracking down on visa runners. Anxious to show the Thai public that they mean business, the military started taking action against foreigners.

BANGKOK: — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok has informed the foreign Embassies and Consulates in Thailand and the Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates worldwide about the visa run crackdown, the former in a letter dated June 23, 2014, of which obtained a copy of today.

For the first time in writing, the ministry confirms the Thai Immigration Bureau’s current crackdown on border runners.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the crackdown is aimed to prevent visa runners who abuse the visa exemption scheme from working illegally in Thailand.

In the letter The Foreign Ministry is confirming earlier information that visa runners will be prohibited from entering Thailand as of August 12, 2014.

Long stay visa applicants are advised to acquire appropriate (Non-Immigrant) visas at Thai Embassies or Consulates prior to their arrival.

Previously the Immigration Bureau has announced a crackdown for border runners. The published letter may also be a strong indication that the Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates now also might have been instructed to be restrictive in issuing multiple back-to-back tourist visas.

This was obviously done without much understanding the role that these seemingly parasitic foreigners play in the Thai economy. I wrote the follow comment on Facebook last month.


Fast forward to late August 2014.

True enough, Prayuth soon realised the repercussions that his latest crackdown on visa runners could bring. Fortunately, he made a quick U-turn. I’m not sure what he meant by “register with the bureau”. What I’m sure of is that things will quietly return to the status quo.

BANGKOK: — The military has told the Immigration Bureau to be flexible with “visa runners”, junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said Friday.

The runners can register with the bureau, which will find a sustainable resolution to the problem, he said in his weekly televised programme last night.

Foreigners had been exploiting tourist visas and visas on arrival by illegally working in the country, mostly as English teachers.

When their visa was about the expire, they entered a neighbouring country to apply for a tourist visa and returned to the Kingdom to illegally work again.

The authorities responded by tightening the rules by not re-issuing visas to the runners and they faced deportation.

Prayuth said the change of the visa system concerning visa runners had considerably affected certain groups such as English teachers and academics.

“So, this is an ongoing problem that needs to be resolved, as it can lead to a shortage of English teachers and guides,” he said during his weekly TV programme.

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Nabber Nabbed

Some say that corruption is not a problem in Thailand. It’s simply a way of life and for centuries, Thailand survived pretty well in spite of all the corruption. A friend who travelled to Thailand overland through Malaysia once remarked that Thai policemen were honest as he didn’t see them collecting bribes from bus drivers at the border checkpoints while the Malaysian police did.

Well, I suspect that the system in Thailand is so well-oiled that it’s probably a lot more high tech than passing notes through open windows.

CHIANG RAI — A drug smuggler arrested with more than 800,000 tablets of methamphetamine this afternoon was discovered to be a high-ranking police officer tasked with cracking down on illegal drugs.

Pol.Lt.Col. Chamnarn Phoomphaichit was arrested at a checkpoint near the Thai-Myanmar border in Chiang Rai province after officers searched his vehicle and found large amounts of narcotics hidden in two bags.

According to a statement from police, the search of Pol.Lt.Col. Chamnarn’s car turned up at least 800,000 meth tablets and one kilogram of crystal meth. The confiscated items are said to be worth more than 200 million baht.

Police say Pol.Lt.Col. Chamnarn is the deputy commander of the Chai Prakarn Police Station in Chiang Mai province. He is also known as a tough anti-drug crusader among Region 5 police officers, police say.

Pol.Col. Wirat Soomnapan, an officer with the Chiang Rai police force, said police are interrogating the suspect to find out more about the drug network he allegedly works for.

I find this very strange. As drug enforcement officer himself, he should have known where his men were and what they were doing. He must have offended someone, perhaps by refusing to share the loot. Nothing to celebrate here. This is just a case of one crooked cop being nabbed by other crooked cops for being “uncooperative”.

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Going Up In Smoke

Finally, do take a look at the following video shot in Varanasi. It’s rather enlightening, or even interesting, but far more interesting I find, are the responses from Thais who have seen it.

From these responses, it would seem that the messages embedded in the video are:

1. Be grateful that you were born in Thailand
2. Never go to a sok ga prok (filthy) place like India

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.