#Thailand – Answers to the puzzle of Pattani Big C bombing.

Pattani answers

Attack on mainly Muslim shoppers may have been launched by rogue BRN militants, even as their handlers’ express willingness to talk peace

Within hours of Tuesday’s bomb attack at a Big C supermarket in Pattani, Thai security officials were pointing the finger of blame at Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the longstanding separatist movement that controls virtually all the insurgent combatants.

Twenty-four hours later, authorities announced they had identified the four culprits but would not make their names public.

Photos and video were released of the stolen pickup loaded with a homemade bomb as it passed through the store’s security checkpoint.

Tinted windows that disguised the assailants’ faces were lowered just far enough to hand over an identification card, which belonged to the owner of the stolen vehicle, whose body was later found in a village in Pattani.

The security guard apparently didn’t bother to check if the face of the driver matched the photo ID. As at most security checkpoints in Thailand, it was a case of going through the motions and waving the customer through.

The two attackers transporting the bomb made it through with ease. Waiting for them on getaway motorbikes nearby were two accomplices.

Despite the forest of checkpoints and security cameras across this conflict-affected region, where an ongoing insurgency has claimed nearly 7,000 lives since January 2004, insurgents continue to evade detection by security officials and their network of informants. 

For the past 13 years, this has been a cat-and-mouse game for the Thai security apparatus. Preventive measures and the security grid have failed to curb hit-and-run attacks against patrols and remote military and police outposts. Soldiers patrolling back roads are sitting ducks for militants manning detonators, with weapons locked and loaded to finish off casualties from the blast.

Many of the soldiers are young and sent to this historically contested region with little understanding of the conflict’s nature. They find themselves up against “ghosts” – no state official really knows who is an active insurgent – but also an entire Patani Malay community that is indifferent to the government’s counter-insurgency operation and wider plan for the region.

The authorities are quick to blame separatists for almost every violent incident. For the local Malays, however, it is clear that pro-government death squads are also part of the picture. When a group of armed men jump out of a pickup and start firing into a teashop full of Muslim villagers, it is difficult to reach any other conclusion.

On the other hand, coordinated and simultaneous attacks, roadside bombings, and ambushes against security units are generally understood to be the work of insurgents. News travels fast in this restive region. Yesterday’s incident is chewed over at breakfast the next morning in village teashops. “Were the victims goats or pigs?” is usually the first question as the men sip tea and eat roti. “Goats” means Malay Muslims while “pigs” refers to Thai Buddhists.

But on Tuesday in Pattani, the “goat and pig” distinction got all mixed up as both Malays and Thai Buddhists lay injured outside Big C waiting to be treated by paramedics.

More than meets the eye

A government spokesman wasted no time in lashing out at separatist militants. But senior officials monitoring the situation closely were scratching their heads over why the BRN would launch an attack against the people they are supposed to be “liberating”. Nothing is being ruled out, including the possibility of an attack by a rogue unit upset with BRN leadership for stating their willingness to negotiate with the Thai state last month.

Evidence from many attacks prior to Tuesday’s bombing suggests insurgents had not been targeting civilians. The raid on a Narathiwat district hospital last year saw 30-plus insurgents evacuate the building of medical staff before using it as a staging ground to assault the Paramilitary Ranger camp next door. Buddhist doctors and nurses even told reporters how polite the insurgents were.

In other incidents, innocent bystanders have been killed by insurgents’ stray bullets, though Thai authorities don’t make a distinction between such accidental killings and murder. In their eagerness to demonise the insurgents, they purposely leave out certain facts. In doing so, they also undermine their own analysis and credibility.

Insurgent sources in the South say they don’t believe anybody in their movement could have carried out Tuesday’s attack, given the fact that most shoppers at the supermarket were Muslims. However, the fluidity of the BRN command-and-control structure means that each cell is given freedom to decide which targets to hit. And given such leeway there is naturally a tendency to escalate the intensity and scale of the violence.

Attack on peace process?

One senior Thai security officer suggests the Big C bombing could be the latest in a wave of attacks avenging the extrajudicial killings of two militant suspects on March 29 by Rangers.

Sources in the BRN said the April attacks were also aimed at discrediting the ongoing peace dialogue between the government and MARA Patani, an umbrella organisation of several longstanding separatist movements.

It’s an open secret that MARA Patani and the BRN are competing to strengthen their constituencies – winning over combatants, as well as civil society organisations and community leaders in the region, to further their cause and agenda.

One advantage that MARA Patani has over others lies in its inclusion in the peace dialogue – the quasi-official track with the Thai state that is being facilitated by Malaysia.

The BRN insisted last month that it was the legitimate dialogue partner for talks with the Thais but that other foreign governments must also be involved as facilitator-observers.

Hope in BRN statement 

Needless to say, the BRN statement generated a great deal of interest at all levels of Thai officialdom. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha didn’t shoot the idea down but instead suggested that the BRN talk to the facilitator, Malaysia.

But for Thai soldiers in the far South, the statement was a welcome one.

“It would be great to be able to talk to somebody who has command and control [over the insurgents],” said one Thai army intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

When asked if he thought Bangkok was prepared to make meaningful concessions to the BRN or the Malays in the far South, he replied, “Probably not. But at least it’s an opportunity to go over issues that are within our reach and to exchange ‘pigs’ and ‘cats’,” said the officer, using the Thai expression for horse-trading.

“We can go over things like rules of engagement, and use the meeting to verify which side was responsible for this or that particular incident. After all, there are many competing actors who have no qualms about using violence to get what they want in this region.” 

 Don Pathan is a security analyst and freelance consultant based in the far South and a member of the Patani Forum (www.pataniforum.com), a civil society organisation promoting critical discussion on the conflict in the far South. 

Source – TheNation

BAD APRIL

Ambulances

In the first week of April a Dutch unknown men call me for a temporary room or condo.
He say you know my brother. He say so.
I invite him to my office and he come with 2 big suitcases from a hotel of the other side of Bangkok.
I give him coffee, ‘we speak in Dutch’ and advise him to go to Phra Khanong / Bangkok to a condominium with a lot of privacy. He don’t know nothing about Bangkok, and I offer to go with him.
He was very satisfy, with the big beautiful room what was also cheap.
One week later he visit me again, and we drink coffee, and talk about the past in Holland.
Than a week later I become a message early in the morning on my mobile, he was in the hospital with heart problems. I drink my morning-coffee / take a shower and go to that hospital.
He was / look total crazy, and not happy with the treatment in the hospital, he want to walk, but can not.
I stay a while, and go eating with his brother outside the hospital. When we come back the doctors coming, and want talk about the next days. The brother ask me, you speak Thai, and you can speak with the doctor. I agree, and when the big doctor come he not want I speak with this doctor and send me away like a dog.
And the service from the beginning I did this all for free.

THANKS ASSHOLE

=====================================================================

Russian Roulette

We call them friends on Facebook, but the are not, I call them only ‘members’
I have a few years a Dutch guy named Ferry Flow (fake name) on my Facebook- friend list.
We have some things in common, like traveling, no more.
I say the only what we has in common is that we born in the same country.
He is/was a teacher in the Netherlands and moved this year to China, also go teaching.
He is new in Asia, and show daily oversized beer glasses on his Facebook-profile.
That is his business, I not care he want play Russian roulette with his life.
But I live many years in tropical hot Asia and lost over the years a lot of (also good) friends on alcohol problems.
One day I not want see more these daily beer-glasses and unfriend him on Facebook.
It remember me every time on lost good friends.
Some friends go back to their home-country (broke) and other died and go to the crematory.
There is no problem with unfriend, he can anyway follow me.
Than he start to message, what happened, and I show him some pictures from lost good young friends.
I write to him as greenhorn he must be careful – Teachers together / Hot Weather / Beer = Russian Roulette.
But he must live his own life.
He not happy whit that unfriend.
And the next day I see he BLOCKED me on Facebook.
Than you can recognize he is already a alcoholic.
THANKS ASSHOLE

Art with heart: The bravest people in Colombia put conflict aside for naked human art installation

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Presented by

Thailand is just one country among many that faces on-going tensions and the human toll that they take. Sometimes it’s hard to see past the newspaper articles, the talking heads on TVs and the social media status updates, to the bigger picture – the lives of real people. That’s where this inspiring video by Johnnie Walker and artist Spencer Tunick comes in.

It all started in June when Tunick, an American photographer famous for getting people naked (a good skill to have), traveled to Colombia.

Tunick uses nudity to make a statement about peace, unity and other important world issues that don’t get enough attention. Since 1994, he has photographed over 75 large-scale nude shoots worldwide.

In Colombia, Tunick met people from all sides of the conflict between the Government and Farc rebels. He met people who have lost loved ones and even literally parts of themselves all due to this decade-long civil war.

Tunick brought these folks together, naked as the day they were born, in one giant “human installation” to highlight a beautiful universal truth: that it is possible to overcome differences and move forward once you realize we are all just human underneath. The installation conveys the will of the people of Colombia to put the past behind them through the lens Johnnie Walker’s inspiring Keep Walking campaign.

Tunick says that these people are the bravest people in Colombia. Not just for getting naked (and that’s no easy feat; imagine walking around Ratchaprasong in your birthday suit!), but because they are able to forgive, and even stand alongside people they once considered enemies. There’s a lesson in there for all of us in Thailand, too, don’t you think?

Fast forward to today. The first ever peace agreement between the Colombian Government and Farc was rejected in a referendum last month and a revised peace accord is in the works. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos on Dec. 10, 2016 for his consistent efforts to bring the country’s ongoing civil war of over 50 years to an end.

With these history-making moments of conflict and peace in mind, Johnnie Walker’s video gets us thinking about what we can do to bring people together in our own neck of the woods.

VIDEO

Source: Coconuts.co

Love without borders

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Thai-Myanmar film “TT & Donut” has its premiere in Yangon

THE FIRST-EVER cinematic collaboration between Myanmar and Thailand, “TT & Donut”, finally had its premiere last Sunday at the National Theatre of Yangon, drawing a celebrity crowd as well as such VIPs as the Chief Minister of Yangon, the counsellor (commercial) from the Royal Thai Embassy, Pakainay Leng-ee and ET, a fortune teller whose clients include Asia’s rich and powerful especially Thai politicians and high-ranking soldiers.

The event, which also featured a live broadcast for Myanmar TV, cost a small fortune to organise but the producers, Myanmar’s Golden Princess and Thai entertainment giant Bec Tero, felt it was well worth the price.

“TT& Donut” was introduced to the Thai media back in September at Paragon Cineplex as the first collaboration between Golden Princess and Bec Tero. The former had been looking for a Thai company with whom to work while Bec Tero was looking to expand its interests in Myanmar having successfully entered into a joint venture with Yangon-based media company and broadcaster Forever Group. Forever BEC Tero, as the company is known, produces TV shows and dramas for Myanmar’s MRTV-4 and Channel 7.

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But while the film has now enjoyed its premiere, it isn’t actually going on release until a little later. The latest schedule shows a Myanmar release either just before 2016 draws to a close or in January followed by a Thai release in March.

The film was originally to come out in Thailand in January but Golden Princess’s producer Thet Lwin preferred to delay out of respect to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He is also hoping to open back home with a bang, feeling it will serve as a springboard for the film’s success in Thailand. And while the film will have a broad release, the focus, he says, will be on Myanmar communities living across Thailand in areas such as Mae Sot in Tak province, Samut Songkhram, Ranong and Bangkok.

The film stars Myanmar superstar Pyay Ti Oo as wealthy bachelor Ti Oo or TT who is on a visit to Thailand when he is accused of kidnapping Donut (Chattarika Sittiprom), the daughter of a powerful mobster who is about to marry a prominent businessman. Life becomes complicated when she loses her memory after an accident, and she and TT are forced to go the run. When her memory finally returns, she wonders which of the two men she truly loves.

The film is directed by Adsajan Sattagovit who worked closely with the Myanmar producers and actor Ti Oo to develop the story. As it is his first time working with a foreign production, Adsajan tried to find out what Myanmar’s cinephiles like, while taking into account cultural differences and the strict censorship in Myanmar.

“It’s a romantic comedy but due to cultural differences, it’s hard to deliver comedy through dialogue so we use gestures and situations. But I believeit can communicate with a Myanmar audience,” says the director.

The film was shot mostly in Thailand at the request of Myanmar’s main investor. Like Thai producers, who prefer to use the beautiful scenery of Japan and South Korea as the backdrops for their films, he wanted to give the film a more exotic feel.

Adsajan satisfied those wishes by using such unseen places as a sheep farm in Ratchaburi and a warehouse by the Chao Phraya river with the Rama IX Brigde as the backdrop.

The shoot itself was stressful for Chattarika, the second runner-up in the Miss Thailand World 2014 pageant, who made her acting debut with the film.

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“Ti Oo helped me a lot. He is very talented and charming both in front and behind the camera,” says the actress, who has since appeared in a few TV dramas including the popular soap “Nakhee”, which has just finished showing on Channel 3.

The 38-year-old Ti Oo enjoyed working with a Thai film crew, saying he found them more systematic than their peers in Myanmar. The actor, who started his career as a 17 year old, has since found himself working in English, South Korean, Malaysian and Indian productions.

“I just do my best and never dream high when working with foreign films, I just work step by step and take all the new experiences as a way of improving my acting skills,” he says.

Actor and writer Lu Min, who has served as the president of the Myanmar Motion Pictures Organisation, for the last four years, is confident the co-production will help the Myanmar film industry become more systematic in its approach thus opening itself up to the international market.

“Our film industry is in transition,” he says. “Technically we are pretty well up-to-date and screening in digital format, but other aspects still need improvement, such as censorship and venues.”

Currently there are around 70 cinemas for 60 million people and half of them are in Yangon, where ticket prices range from Bt30 to Bt100.

More than 100 movies are currently being made every year – and the figure is rising – but theatre capacity is such that cinemas can only allocate showtime to around 20 films and the others have to wait in line. Censorship is another problem and Lu Min has been in recent discussions with the authorities to ease the rules. “Producers find it very difficult to work and often have to allocate bigger budgets to re-shoot the scenes the censors don’t like,” he says, adding that these challenges must be overcome if filmmaking is to develop,

Lu Min says he still loves acting and writing but that he is too busy as MMPO president to help fellow filmmakers.

“I think collaboration will help us to improve not just the quality of our films but also our marketing. Our film market is quite small and I would really like to see a bigger variety in stories and genres and an increase in movie theatres. Only then will we be able to expand,” he says.

Source: TheNation

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THAILAND – Ritual felling of cremation trees to be held at Kui Buri

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PEOPLE can witness a sacred ritual at the Kui Buri National Park today before the felling of four agarwood trees chosen for the royal crematorium.

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The ritual will take place between 2.09pm and 2.39pm. It will begin as soon as His Majesty’s Deputy Principal Private Secretary Wud Sumitra pours holy water and anoints the No 15 agarwood tree at the park to the sound of holy music from gongs and other instruments.

Chatchai Pinngern, chief of the Brahmin rituals office, will also take part in the ceremony, reading out loud the worship script and chopping the tree with a golden axe.
The royal astrologer will be present to sound the gong and three other chosen agarwood trees will be cut at the same time. The sacred ritual will be recorded by the National Archive of Thailand. HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed in his 89th year on October 13. Preparations are now ongoing for his royal cremation, for which agarwood is considered important. The four were among 19 agarwood trees found dead inside the park. Their heights range from 11 to 15 metres with widths from 142 to 203 centimetres, in accordance with criteria for the royal cremation.

The trees, which are labelled 10, 11, 14 and 15, were selected by Chamlong Yingnuek, director of the Royal Household Bureau’s Royal Rituals Division, and Chatchai Pinngern, chief of the Brahmin rituals office, as well as other officials from relevant departments.

11 Elephants and mahouts pay respects for the late King

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A PROCESSION of 11 elegant elephants and hundreds of mahouts performed a show of respect to much-revered HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej in front of the Grand Palace yesterday morning.

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They were all in elaborate, black attire as they joined the rest of the nation in mourning the passing of the great monarch.

His Majesty passed away at the age of 89 on October 13 this year.
All of the elephants performed in front of His Majesty during his visit to Ayutthaya’s Thung Makham Yong in 2012.

“This is the biggest mission in my life,” Pra Kosjaban Foundation’s chairman Laithongrien Meepan said yesterday leading the mahouts and tuskers.

In the capital, the procession started a respectful march from a military unit near the Grand Palace at 9.09am. His Majesty was the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty.

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The leading elephant carried a portrait of the much-beloved King and his first white elephant during the march.

The awe-inspiring procession stopped in front of the Defence Ministry. All participants then faced the Grand Palace and observed a moment of silence in remembrance of the King. Mourners as well as the pachyderms laid prostrate before the late head of the state to express their full loyalty.

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Source: TheNation

Paris – Phuket – Bangkok – Magazine

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NEW IS OUR PARIS / PHUKET / BANGKOK MAGAZINE

In a short time, our magazine has known quite a few improvements: a more luxurious formula earmarked to seduce a wider audience, a new name to rubber stamp its national-scale calling (le Paris Bangkok outside Phuket), and content now fully translated into English in order to reach the whole expatriates community as well as Thai readers.

This cycle of evolution is coming to an end with a last innovation: as of September, the magazine comprises 100 pages (16 more pages) and becomes bimonthly (every two months). In order to guarantee an ever-growing exposure to our advertisers, its circulation is doubled to ensure its presence all the way through the two months that each issue will henceforth cover. Distribution will be widened and a restocking will occur for every distribution spots after one month.

The additional pages at the end of the magazine will be devoted to highlight businesses through a “Hot Spot” formula, offering our readers a choice of places to go and services to use.