However, one application to enter the senatorial race was rejected by the Phuket Election Commission (PEC).
“The application filed by Siripong Luangchawee was rejected because he resigned as a member of the Pheu Thai Party only last year,” PEC Director Kittipong Thiengkunakrit explained. Read more...
The rampant confusion over the putative secessionist movement calling for an independent state of Lanna in the north of Thailand is no more than you can expect in a country besotted with acronyms.
The website of the Lanna Assembly for the Defence of Democracy has been adamant that they have nothing to do with the idea of secession. They are merely the northern branch of a network of academics who have been taken upon themselves the herculean task of reading the constitution, listening to the rantings of PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban, and pointing out where the one cannot coexist with the other.
Unfortunately, their Thai name, samacha pokpong prachathipatai, gets acronymized to So Po Po. But So Po Po is also the acronym that comes before ‘Lao’, standing for satharanarat prachathipatai prachachon. (At least this is what the domineering Thais will tell you; in truth and in Lao, it is sathalanalat pasathipatai pasason.) (And stop sniggering, you oh-so-superior Thais.)
But whatever. So Po Po Lao means ‘Lao PDR’ which, the encyclopaedia tells you, stands incongruously for ‘People’s Democratic Republic’. Except those who have actually been there say it really means ‘Please Don’t Rush’.
So when a random reporter asked a random woman on a motorbike in Chiang Mai what the So Po Po Lanna on her headband meant, the answer was along the lines of the misleading name of our ‘little brother’ neighbours rather than the earnest academics.
Enter full of wrath and indignation the Thai military, an organization especially sensitive to territorial integrity. After all, the Thai armed forces owe their existence to this concept. Not that they were expected to protect the motherland from foreign enemies – at the time these were colonial powers against whom they stood no chance. The real need was to give territorial reality to the newly imagined Siamese state and to create national institutions to bolster this idea.
Square-bashing then as now was as much ideological as military. The idea was to instil in the heads of northeastern conscripts that they were not Lao, as they thought, but Siamese. The fact that they could also be used for suppressing internal dissent (often from people who were not too keen on becoming Siamese as in today’s Deep South) was all to the good.
The army has taken the line that even when it is deliberately misread, So Po Po Lanna is far too dangerous an idea to let pass. Time for maximum bluster and bullying.
But the misunderstanding of acronyms seems to have been catching. Take, for example, the sharply-worded message from the PDRC to the Financial Institutions Development Fund of the Bank of Thailand. This complains of violently biased coverage and demands the withdrawal of their southeast Asian correspondent.
Now the FIDF normally shrinks any publicity of any kind and was at a loss to understand this. Until one bright spark remembered the Bangkok Bank for Commerce, a highly corrupt enterprise whose dodgy loans to themselves, select politicians and even BoT officials led to its demise over 15 years ago, when its business was taken over by the FIDF. It seems that the PDRC had confused one BBC with another.
The FIDF, relieved for once not to be guilty as charged, quickly sent a reply exonerating themselves. To the Primary Dispute Resolution Centre of the Singaporean courts. They realized their error when their envelope came back with a very snitty comment written on it. So they re-addressed it to the Physical Disabilities Resource Centre of a local hospital.
Not to be outdone, the UDD, noting the 3 years and counting that the National Anti-Corruption Commission has taken over rice-buying malfeasance charges against former PM Abhisit compared to lightning speed with which they have dealt with Yingluck’s case, shot off a regular ‘double standards’ complaint to the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. (Didn’t it worry them when the Post Office told them it would cost foreign postage?)
We at Prachatai are of course immune from such solecisms. This is why we have studiously ignored a letter threatening to close us down if we don’t kill off this Alien Thoughts column from some outfit calling themselves the CMPO. I mean, why should we listen to China Motor Parts Online?Read more...
A Nakhon Sri Thammarat inmate, Kee Honzaitong, tipped police off about members of a drug network transporting ya ice from Bangkok to Phuket on March 7, said Region 8 Police Commander Panya Mamen.
“Officers searched the bus identified by Mr Kee when it arrived at the Tah Chat Chai checkpoint and found Soonthorn Limsakul, 37, sitting in the back of the bus with a bag of ya ice on the floor next to him,” he said. Read more...
The group’s ire is focused mainly on Chinese and Russian companies that they claim are set up using a Thai nominee.
“In the past, Chinese and Russian tour operators contacted us for boat rentals, Thai tour guides, hotels and restaurants,” said Krissada Phichetponsanon, Managing Director of the Andavaree company. Read more...
Sor Por Por Lanna group held press conference in Chiangmai
Hundreds of passports are believed to be lost or stolen every year in a black-market racket on tourist island of Phuket
The Italian national who was believed to be on flight MH370 has told Thai police that his passport went missing last year from a motorbike rental shop on the tourist island of Phuket, where hundreds of passports are thought to be lost or stolen every year in a black-market racket.
Luigi Maraldi, 37, said he was on holiday last summer when he left his passport at an undisclosed rental shop in Patong, the resort island's tourist centre, only to discover when he later went to collect it that the shop owner had handed it over to a man who "looked similar".
Passports are often asked in exchange for car and motorbike rentals in Phuket – visited by 12 million tourists every year – but the island is a hotbed of identity theft, and complaints of stolen and lost passports are rife.
According to Italian honorary consul Francesco Pensato said: "We have 250,000 [Italian] tourists a season, so it's normal that [some] lose a passport."
Pensato confirmed that Maraldi had had his passport stolen in Phuket in July last year, and that the number of the passport used to board the flight was the same as that of the stolen passport – ruling out any possibility that there was another Luigi Maraldi with the same date of birth who may have been on board.
Christian Kozel, the 30-year-old Austrian citizen listed on the flight's manifest, also had his passport stolen two years ago during a flight from Phuket to Bangkok, the Austrian foreign ministry said.
Malaysian officials are now using CCTV footage to try to identify the two travellers, while investigators are also looking into reports that another two passengers may have been travelling on false documents.
Just why the men posing as the Italian and Austrian would have used the false documents is still unclear. Terrorism is a possibility, but so is asylum: six Syrians hoping to seek refugee status in Sweden have been detained for over a month at Phuket's international airport after attempting to fly to Stockholm via Beijing on Greek passports. Local media outlet Phuketwan reported that the group said they had chosen to fly through Phuket and Beijing because other refugees had reached Sweden using the same flight path.
The two men on board MH370 had booked onward flights via Beijing to Amsterdam, and then Copenhagen for the "Italian", and Frankfurt for the "Austrian". The two men seem to have purchased their one-way tickets at the same time from a travel agency in the Thai beach town Pattaya on Thursday.
Both Kozel's and Maraldi's passports had been reported stolen and were listed in Interpol's database, yet the airline did not cross-check the 40m-record database to confirm whether any passengers on flight MH370 were flying on dubious documents.
Terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University said there were only two categories of travellers using stolen passports: criminals and terrorists.
"To blame Malaysian authorities for this is probably unfair – they have to get it right all the time and potential hijackers just have to get through once," he added.
Malaysia Airlines officials told a press conference on Sunday that terrorism was being investigated as a reason why the plane may have tried to turn back, as reports of potential serious lapses in security at Kuala Lumpur International airport emerged.
Just a few months ago, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and police formed a "flying squad" to address allegations of immigration officers accepting bribes to allow illegal immigrants into the country. At the same time human trafficking gangs were reportedly selling a "Get into Malaysia package" for £450, in return for which the buyer was smuggled into the country and given a fake "MyKad", the compulsory identity document for Malaysian citizens.
Malaysia's deputy home minister, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, said the government does not deny that "there may be some black sheep among the staff" and added: "Generally, they are good, efficient and honest officers. We will not allow them to be condemned, nor will the department be condemned because of the actions of a few."
The US is expected to investigate the stolen passports once the FBI arrives in Malaysia to assist with the investigation.
It came as somewhat of a surprise that the service, launched with considerable fanfare in July last year, has not turned out to be as popular as expected, especially given the widespread dissatisfaction with the woeful public transport options on the island.
Unfortunately, and despite perhaps legitimate claims by the operator that Airports of Thailand (AoT) and other forces with vested interests at the airport are largely to blame, the sad fact remains that nine months after starting, the service still has no discernible English-language presence on the internet to inform would-be riders that it even exists. Read more...