FROM AN ENGLISH CHILDREN'S HOME TO SAMUI COURT
As the days draw closer to the day when two young Burmese men go on trial on the Thai island of Koh Samui for the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge and the murder of David Miller on nearby Koh Tao, and after a young British woman was allegedly raped in Kanchanaburi in news of which there appears to be an attempt to suppress - we publish an account from a former bar owner on Koh Tao, who was arrested on drugs charges.
The young Briton from Surrey appears to be very naive. At the end of the day he paid himself off the drugs charge - drugs which he says police advised him to sell under their protection - he says he still loves Koh Tao,
He still loves Thailand. He does however give an indication as to how justice can, or rather does run frequently in Thailand.
The British Embassy, he said, told him not to cough up and pay a bribe to get off his charges advice which he said he eventually ignored. So he is now back in the U.K.
This story of course suggests that the British Embassy and probably all Embassies in Thailand are seriously diluting their travel advisories. Though the FCO advisory on the Samui Archipelago is quite strong it shies away from another major problem - the police themselves.
It has already been widely reported on this site how police attempt to cover up crimes against foreigners, or lay the blame on foreigners - we have even caught them at it more than a few times.
We have also reported how police have set people up from crimes they did not commit - for cash.
We have also reported how police have set people up from crimes they did not commit - for cash.
The upcoming trial of Burmese migrants is already extremely controversial. Most foreigners and Thais for that matter do not believe that Zaw Lin and Wei Phyo are guilty. Nobody trusts Thai Police with DNA - and evidence gathering techniques have already discredited the investigation so much so that the case would have been thrown out a long time ago in another country, or the whole investigation team replaced.
To conclude that this crime was in fact carried out by local 'mafia' (influential businessmen) one of whose major incomes is to supply the drugs to sell to tourists, and this was done with the connivance of the local police, would be too sore to bear for Thailand.
Of course nobody can say 100 per cent the young Burmese did not do it - and nobody on Koh Tao except the (illegal and abused in western tems) Burmese community are going to stand up in court and say they are innocent.
Despite that, the writer below, who produced this on a 'drugsinThailand' blogspot believes Thailand is one of the safest places he has ever been to. He maybe should take a few minutes to contemplate before his next foreign venture particularly as he ended up in a 'lose lose' situation with the love of his life, er, another common occurrence.
"I went to Koh Tao in 2001 and did my open water. I fell in love with the island, the lush green coconut plantations stretching down to the sea , with the diving culture , the beautiful fish, the holiday atmosphere , but along with the buzz that comes from a shared interest and newfound energy of many people learning about beautiful natural things .
It was all i ever wanted. It seemed like paradise , I had to find a way to stay, so I became a diving instructor. This was a big step for me . I was afraid of the water and was by no means a strong swimmer.
But with some hard work and dedication eventually bit by bit I passed all the swim tests and exams up through rescue and divemaster. I did an amazing snorkel test and all that stuff then maybe after a year’s training and every penny I had I became a PADI instructor.
While spending some time on the island I obviously made friends with some of the locals . One of these locals was a pretty but powerful looking Thai lady who was involved with the running of the dive shop.
Lets , for the sake of anonymity call her Pee. So as time went on I became even more in love with Koh Tao but the Thai politics and the tsunami had greatly reduced the amount of tourists coming so diving work became a bit thin on the ground.
To cut a long story short , Pee , who was , i had learned by now , a respected member of the community with some considerable sway with the authorities and the local high flyers (local mafia ) offered me the position of running the dive shop bar.
It was a small bar but with so many instructors on Koh Tao and so little diving work , i jumped at the chance. So that went well. We had all sorts of fun, but after about a year Pee said that the dive shop bar was getting too loud and too big and had to close and offered me another bigger more expensive venue.
I was apprehensive. Running the bar hadn’t been easy and this was a bigger bar with double the rent and without the passing custom of the dive shop. I would have to build it from a blank canvas .Lay on the water , electric Get a sound system . It was a big risk and a huge project it would take every last penny I had but pee assured me that she would encourage and support me all the way but it turned out to be the worste deal i ever made in my life.
So we opened the new bar on the third of December 2003. it was a beautiful rooftop bar in Mae Haad . looking out over the sea at where the sun would set every evening. It was such a beautiful place . We would play all the classics from 'up on the roof' to 'bomb the bass' while sitting on the roof looking out over the sea and having that early evening beer and watching the amazing sunsets every night.
There were parties, chillout nights. I was worried though. Tourism was dropping off and businesses were slowly starting to disappear. The politics were getting worse and everyone was starting to struggle . By now I had a Thai girlfrind who i was very in love with she was the sweetest most beautiful thing I have ever met and the only way i was going to stay with her, was to make this work.
I was in love with the island , in love with the diving, in love with the bar, but most of all I loved that girl . By now I’d been on the island for 4 years my business was there; my girl was there; it was more of a home to me than anywhere i had ever been.
So everything seemed to be perfect . I would spend my days thinking up themes for ' nights ' in the bar, organising the promotions and doing my best to build up a following. My wonderful girlfriend spent her time learning new recipes and organising staff. I would watch in the evenings while she cooked. I was so proud and happy. Everything was going ok . Things were not easy financially but we were eating and paying the rent. Then came the military coup.
From there tourism dropped off again - drastically . It took 6 months but soon we were struggling for the rent.
The stress was starting to wear us down after a year or so and we were also well behind with the rent. It was about that time that the police started to come up.
They would hang around on the hammocks and look at me. After a while they started suggesting that we started to sell some weed. They told me because i was struggling and I had been there a long time and I was their friend they would protect me. At first I refused.
But after a few months of getting more and more behind with the rent and I felt intimidated by them because i knew they were good friends of Pee and she was also trying to convince me to do the same.
I felt I was under pressure and pushed into a corner and they were offering me a way out. So I started to pay and I allowed weed to be sold in the bar. Things went ok for a year. I paid every month through my girlfriend and gradually we got the debts paid off. Then one day the police came up and arrested me and my friend for selling weed. The police found NOTHING on my person but found a small amount of weed downstairs OUTSIDE the bar. We were thrown into thai jail. They were friendly enough but we had to sleep on the floor with no bedding 8 to a cell. Food was terrible. You’ve heard all the stories.
So I managed to buy my way out after a week for £1000 but they still had my passport so I couldn’t leave.
I had to go to court every 12 days on Samui island. They had taken everything worth any money from the bar. They had stolen all my money I was stranded and skint and without a passport. I couldn’t go home.
So there I am overjoyed to be out but standing in my deserted bar with not a penny no music, no TV, computer, they even took the decorative money that was stuck on the wall in the bar. I’d had to borrow the £1000 because the police took all my money so I was even more in debt than before. I was also looking at 4 years in a Thai jail . My friend was still in jail and I didn’t have the money to get him out.
So the embassy were telling me there is no way out you will have to do the 4 yrs. I’m not liking that one.
The pressure was getting unbearable I’m finding it difficult to get enough to eat. The worry is immense. I’m not sleeping and, the biggest tragedy of all, the stress starts to affect my relationship with my girl . Its too much for us both we start to crack under the pressure.
Being constantly reminded but also confused by the regular court trips and having to constantly find the boat fare with no way of earning a living; not being able to sleep at night or forget about it in the day. Living on the smallest of rations day in day out and loosing so much weight ,the pressure was too much.
My paradise was there in my face but I just can’t touch it or feel it or live in it. But its there , all around me. I think it was about then I started to feel like i was going mad . Then just to throw another spanner into the works Pee introduced me to this lawyer who said she could get us off for £3000.
I kept on trying to hold on to the plot but as me and my girl grew further apart , the less i could focus on why I was there and what i was supposed to be doing.
This went on for well over a year. It was really taking its toll on me and my poor girlfriend but she had to appear in court with me. Those were my bail conditions so we were locked in this dance of death watching each other fall apart and not being able to get closer or run away.
Then of course i was asking the Embassy if they thought it was possible that this lawyer was telling the truth and she could get me off. They said it was impossible. Time and time again I spoke with them and they advised me not to pay. So I was looking at 4 years. Would my girl wait for me after all that had happened I knew the answer to that. So I was in a lose lose situation . My only chance was to try to get the money somehow so I did.
My head was in such a state by now I was drinking too much and I was a mess but things got worse. Some days I just didn’t know what to do I was hungry scared. I started selling coke and pills to get the money. The police were already on my case but it was either that or do the 4 years.
The stress was killing me it had been going on so long and I was putting myself under so much pressure, not eating, not sleeping, getting off my head all the time to try to escape the pressure.
|Koh Samui Court|
It went on for months. At one point I was sleeping on the sofa in a go go bar in Pattaya waiting for my passport for two months begging food from the girls . I had nothing.This story ends well Somehow I paid the money and it worked. I got a not guilty. I was given my passport and now I’m back in the UK planning my next adventure.
What I want to say is that the stories are all true, so be carefull. In some places westerners are just considered a walking wallet and no matter how friendly you get with the natives , you are still a foreigner.
I made some stupid mistakes but I feel I was led down a path on purpose for the benefit of certain other people. I loved Thailand and Koh Tao. Its one of the safest places I've ever been but don’t fall into any of the foolish traps I fell into and coming soon with more of my living on the edge stories which are 100 % true and 100% real I grew up in a children’s home nr Guildford. I’ve had the maddest life. Live your dreams."