Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An open letter to Chaiyan Turasakul , Mayor of the Thai island of Koh Tao,

Dear Mayor,  
I see you are upset by British media reports over the death of Christina Annersley on your beautiful island of Koh Tao, another young British tourist who has died of natural causes. Well at least that is what your police said – and so did Christina’s mother initially – but now she is not so sure and and has told the London Evening Standard she wants an independent post mortem in the U.K. 
Christina Annersley
I am angry too. You are concerned about tourism and cash. The relatives of all those Britons and persons of other nationalities who have died on holiday in Thailand do not care about tourism. They care about their loved ones. The British media as a rule cares about what happens to British tourists. 
You have complained to the ‘Khao Sod’ about spurious press claims. There is no such thing as island mafia, you insist. Who exactly are you selling this line too and who is going to believe you? – certainly not the British press. 
Christina’s mother made her initial statement based on information supplied by the Thai authorities, notably island police. Now she is more circumspect.  
Why?  Well I am guessing she has been told Thai police and authority figures such as you are do not have a record of telling the truth. 
Let me tell you of my own experiences as a journalist covering murders and attacks on tourists here in Thailand. Look; here’s a short list, but I could go on forever.


Joanne Masheder, murdered by a monk in Wat Tham Khao Poon , Kanchanaburi, aged 23.
A novice monk was arrested but Joanne was missing for weeks before her body was found in a cave there.  

Before her body was found authorities were putting out a story that they believed that her family was making a false (and thus criminal) insurance claim blaming Thailand for her death. LIES


Vanessa  Arscott, 23, and Adam Lloyd, 24.  Adam Lloyd was gunned down and Vanessa was run over by Police Sergeant Somchai Wisetsingh in his car, before he shot her three times execution style as she hung on to a post by the side of the road. 
Wisetsingh denied the murders right up to the end and escaped the death penalty because he was an ‘exemplary’ policeman. 
Reporters covering his trial were attacked with pepper spray by one of his colleagues and most witnesses were scared to give evidence. He was found guilty on forensic evidence only, and perhaps because the British media gave this case high scrutiny. 
The defence tried to blame an un-named informant of Somchai. Somchai claimed he did not know her. But a picture given to the writer showed he was lying.  LIES and more LIES.


Kirsty Jones, 23:  Raped and murdered in the Aree Guest House, Chiang Mai.  Nobody ever convicted. 
 In terms of lies told by the Thai police and Thai authorities this is something of a classic case. 
 A Thai policeman also issued a statement to say that Kirsty was probably a willing participant until her killer demanded anal sex.
Chiang Mai Police blame assorted foreigners before then kidnapping a Karen hill tribe guide and torturing to extract a confession. 
They even tried to masturbate him to get sperm – Why would they do that?  LIES, LIES AND MORE LIES AND ATTEMPT TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE.

Katherine Horton, 24, murdered and raped on Lamai Beach, Koh Samui.   
Foreigners were blamed again and taken in for questioning. LIES. 
Then a police ‘dream team’ flew in from Bangkok and arrested two fishermen. 
They were sentenced to death commuted to life in the public outcry.  But to this day there are many local people who believe they were scapegoats.

Leo del Pinto, 23, Shot dead by Police Sergeant Uthai Dechachawit in Pai, Mae Hong Son. 
A massive cover up on this one with local police trying to say Uthai was acting in self defence.   
The DSI had to be called in to prosecute - so obstructive were the local police. 
While on bail Uthai killed his 18-year-old bride of two weeks.



Hannah Witheridge and David Miller. Both brutally murdered and Hannah was also raped on Koh Tao – your island. 
Well, where do we begin here Khun Chaiyan? Well let’s start off with the original story. That was that David Miller was killed by a jealous gay lover because he had gone off with a woman.   
Thankfully that was discredited very quickly. But it deteriorated from that moment. Next suspect was one of Miller’s British travelling companions from Jersey. 
But of course by this time the Burmese migrant community were being rigorously and harshly being turned over by local police, er, because a ‘Thai person could not do such a thing.” 
And then General Panya Mamen, the head of the regional police told Thai PBS on September 23 that the chief suspects were the brother of a local village chief and the son of a village chief. 
He promised that ‘ local mafias’ would have no influence on the police investigation and they would be ‘eliminated’. 
No-one of course was surprised when he was removed from his post and no mafias were elimninated. And of course we had to put up with the ridiculous statement that there were no mafias on Koh Tao, if there were police would know about them. Of course we are not talking about the Cosa Nostra here. We are talking about the money men who have real control, while young tourists truly believe that have hit paradise.  
The above are just a few examples. With the exception of Canadian Leo whose case I took up, these are just a few British victims in Thailand. Add other foreigners to this and the number of unprosecuted rapes and attacks not resulting in death and the picture is much more alarming.
Now tell me was General Panya telling the truth or lying Khun Chaiyan.  And who are we, the foreign media, to believe? 
Do you want us to believe there are no mafias down in the Samui Archipelago? 
Do you want us to believe the Thai police do not have a practice of using  scapegoats?
How can be believe the Thai police when they have such an erratic record in regards to the truth? 
If the Thai people do not believe this why do you expect us to?  
Oh, of course, we are stupid.
Meanwhile tourists have been dying on Koh Tao. Where are your words for the families of these people? They do not care how much money people on Koh Tao are going to make next year. At least Koh Tao business people are alive.



  1. A significant problem as regards foreign deaths - I mean the ones which don't grab the headlines on this site - is that Thai police reports can be very short. I have seen the official reports of motorbike accidents or even drownings as short as the equivalent of three hundred words or even less. When distraught parents or overseas coroners demand "more information" from Thailand months after the event, they are pushing all too often on an open door as there isn't any. The Thai police would say that farang deaths are very routine in Thailand - there are perhaps 3,000 non-Thai coffin cases a year although the majority are from natural causes. Every one of those deaths requires a police report for foreign embassies, however brief, but an investigation of any sort only follows if murder is obvious or if the media make a fuss. Thais generally have a "mai pen rai" (never mind) attitude to death. Of course, there is police corruption in some cases but I suspect it's a small minority. Equally important are Thai cultural norms and police procedures when notified of a death. These are not going to change any time soon.

  2. The death in Pai of a British motorcyclist, and the maiming of his pillion passenger, at the hands of a drunken Thai driving dangerously is of course another cultural norm. That the police have tried from the outset to place the blame for the accident on the deceased farang is a cultural norm. That the police did not even arrest the Thai driver at the scene of the accident or breathalyse him is a cultural norm. That despite first hand eye witness accounts stating the Thai driver was at fault, the Thai driver has still not been charged is a cultural norm. That in all likelihood, the Thai driver's father is a person of influence and the police have been bribed to conceal the evidence and allow the killer to get off Scott free is a cultural norm.
    I do like cultural norms, don't you?

  3. One of the greatest problems of a corrupt patronage system is the inability of a junior or lower ranked person in the system to criticise or complain about the behaviour of a senior. In Thai there is the concept of "Kreng Jai" where an elder or senior person is paid deference and the feeling of not wanting to impose or obstruct them in anything is paramount.

    This would be fine if the people paid this deference were honest and respectable people. All too often it is "blind allegiance" to a hierarchical system that is based on money and favours given. The "deference" is given because the person has a lot of money and power and even if they are totally corrupt and despotic, they are more often than not still revered and given a high social position.

    This is seen with police and politicians turning up to the birthday party of Kumnan Poh who was convicted of murder but has never spent a day in jail. Many politicians are just corrupt thieves but are worshipped like deities in their home provinces. This comes from the fact they post billboards of themselves everywhere and spread around a lot of money to cronies and officials who do their bidding. Many of them are ethnic Chinese, the second generation sons of Chinese merchants.

    In Thai there is also what they called a "Thaew Kae" where a person is a patriarchal leader of a clan. It is usually the eldest son like Thaksin in the Shinawatra family. They are given the sole power to run the family businesses and are often encouraged to go into politics to protect the families fortune. Just about every province in Thailand has these people. On the one hand many despise them for their greed and corruption but in public wai them and pay them deference. You cannot publicly accuse anybody with power. You can never ever shame or name an official without severe retribution or a lawsuit.

    This is so different from the west where we scrutinise our politicians and many people will openly insult or criticise them, even in public. Anybody with any real clear thinking is going to find the Thai system fake at best and totally fraudulent at worse. Behind the flash uniforms, smiles and deference are often ruthless, cunning and extremely greedy people. They abuse their power, secretly steal the public's money and run crime empires protected by political and police cronies who all take a cut of the spoils.

    Thailand would be better of being called the "Kingdom of illusions" as nothing is ever what it seems. Saving face, protecting the perceived status quo, xenophobia and paying deference to unworthy people is now endemic. The truth is these people are only interested in protecting their own little empires and couldn't give a toss about their poorer countrymen.

    One of the saddest things I find about Thailand is how many poor people put their whole hope into the fortnightly 3 digit lotto. It's like their only hope of ever having a few extra baht to spend. How can you blame the lower classes for doing the wrong thing when all they see from the upper classes is hypocrisy, greed and corruption. Yet in public they will still pay deference and bow down to these corrupt despots.

  4. Totally agree, Barry K. We sometimes forget there is a clash of cultures. Not only are procedures not as thorough but also the motivation is different. Your comment on mai bhen rai regarding death is spot on. Thais see death, of any description, differently from us. Thais, whether practicing Buddhists or not, think of life's impermanence and think more of the life hereafter. That does not excuse murder and rape and the trivial handling of farang suspicious deaths but it does throw light on a cultural attitude that's difficult for westerners to comprehend.
    Mix in their passion for lying to avoid conflict and their highly feudal class structure and we have a recipe for the sort of comments the Gaw Dtao mayor, seen as a man of influence by islanders, is spouting. Much of AD's open letter needs to be said but for a Thai audience maybe should be written differently. For a foreign audience it was fine, but we are already convinced of what has been going on and prefer to call a spade a spade. For a Westerner, to get through a Thai’s xenophobia you need to go all around the houses and avoid strong words of criticism. That's Thai face for you, of course.

    Gerry and Tommy made some good points.

  5. "Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one." Malcolm S. Forbes, American Publisher of Forbes Magazine (1919- 1990)

    Good work on the article AD. May the families of the deceased find some solace and a degree of happiness, peace of mind going forward, and perhaps even justice..

    In Thailand, many factors contribute to excessive tourist fatalities. Factors include a tourist's frequently flagrant disregard for their own personal safety, inherently dangerous conditions in Thailand, rampant police corruption and a fatalistic attitude by most Thais. This was alluded to by the astute readers of AD.com.

    Combine that with a general desensitization, the result of daily tourist fatalities. Although under-reported, the general Thai public (and the world) becomes inured with growing tourist deaths and statistics in the Thailand. The tacit acceptance of high tourist-foreigner fatalities serves to exacerbate the issue, facilitating the ongoing malaise, in the 'my bpen rai' attitude alluded to previously..
    Victim families occasionally speak out, but there's no current concrete action undertaken by Thai authorities to address the issue head-on. After their ordeal, most victim families will never go to the country (again). The other 24 million-plus visitors (per year) to Thailand should take notice - of extremely excessive bloody amounts of tourist deaths by unnatural causes!

    For new visitors to Thailand, forewarned is forearmed! A lot of foreign men get into trouble with Thai women, and numbers of them end up killed. Like the parasitic Passion fruit vine, the bad Thai women will envelop and engulf their foreign host (the unwitting farang), chew him up, and spit him out..

    People in Western and Thai culture operate under a different set of norms - rendering the cultures diametrically opposed to each other.

    It's a cultural collision. When western people attempt to impose their cultural attitudes, bias and values on Thai people, the attempt is almost always unsuccessful.

    It's like trying to give ice to Eskimos. They certainly don't need it, or want it. Like every culture, Thai culture has been developed and evolved across time and distance - and as a visitor to their country, the proactive foreigner should adapt accordingly.

    When living in Thailand, those foreigners that cannot change deeply-ingrained cultural attitudes can get into a lot of trouble, as cultures collide, and too many meet their demise as a result.

    Before you sell your home and move to Thailand as an expatriate, you need to understand the full picture of what you're getting into, and what you will have to let go of. In particular, you will need to check many of your Western values at the door, if you wish to survive psychologically. Easily said, difficult to do..

    I wrote a book about the problem, anonymously as possible, called "A Place To Be Killed: Tourism Alert Thailand." Get it? T.A.T.

    Most people, however, aren't proactive in terms of their own safety. That's up to the individual, and it always will be. Thailand is dangerous, but most go there oblivious to that fact.

    But that's only one piece of the puzzle, as we all know only too well..

  6. Thais are very blind to the truth or telling it. How could a Boeing 777, MH370 fly through Thai airspace with narry an eye blinking nor jets being scrambled to intercept it, unless there was a huge payoff to the air force and airports Not to see the plane on their radar screens. AD is right. Tell a lie once, you get away with it, twice you hear the ice cracking around you. Three times and you fall through the ice and become blind liars.

  7. Thai's are very blind to the truth or telling it. How could a Boeing 777, MH370 fly through Thai airspace with narry an eye blinking nor jets being scrambled to intercept it, unless there was a huge payoff to the air force and airports Not to see the plane on their radar screens. AD is right. Tell a lie once, you get away with it, twice you hear the ice cracking around you. Three times and you fall through the ice and become blind liars.