Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday, January 17, 2016

While a family back home still does not have the body of Luke Miller – found drowned at the Sunset pool bar on Koh Tao earlier this month – independent but non-identifiable reports to this site again say that it has ‘extensive injuries’.

And they are not, insist the sources, in any shape or form wounds inflicted by barbed wire as police on the island suggested.

Full Moon Party - Haadrin at 8am (Picture Phillip Blenkinsop) Many moons ago.
Despite anger on Facebook by Luke’s elder sister Maria, and Nichola Gissing, a travelling companion, Thai Police say they have closed the investigation after insisting on handling the post mortem themselves. They said that there are no clues signaling murder.
Luke Miller

At the Bangkok Police hospital a spokesman says it can hang onto the body for fourteen days but did not say whether the body had been released or not. In Britain over £11,000 has been raised to ‘Bring Luke Home’ and give him a sendoff. 

But almost certainly a post mortem will be conducted and inquest held first.

Attempts had been made by Luke’s travelling companions to have the body sent to Thailand’s Central Institute of Forensic Science headed by Dr. Porntip Rojanasunan, who gave evidence against the police in the trial of Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin for the murders of Britons Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, from Norfolk and Jersey respectively.. This was to ensure if indeed there are discrepancies there will be Thai witnesses to testify if needed.

But Luke’s mother had been anxious that her son’s body be returned forthwith and that his friend’s James and Nichola Gissing get out of the country. This they have done while being highly critical on Facebook of the British Embassy’s role. 

Meanwhile in just one incident on the neighbouring island of Koh Phangan in the Samui archipelago the Thai authorities have confirmed two essential facts which police have been at pains to deny for the last year. 

Those are claims that (1) the islands are run by ‘mafia’ and secondly that the Thai authorities go chasing after foreigners when something bad happens which might affect their tourist industry.

View from Palita Lodge to Chang Phuak on the hill

A local mayor, his manager and two assistants have been arrested in connection with the shooting up of a resort called the Palita Lodge which is being reported as next to the Mayor’s Simiram bar which is now apparently managed by Russians – or at least they have been sold a lease.

The Mayor Chanin Phetsri, 54, was arrested at his home on the mainland where he runs Tha Khanom municipality in Khiri Ratthanikhom and has been charged with hiring two men to spray the Palita Lodge with gunfire. Police took away three handguns from his house.

Chang Phuak looking across to Palita Lodge

His manager at the Chang Phuak on Haadrin Beach  jarong Hongthong was charged with delegating the job to two employees, Sihanart Chaipinit, 62, and Jirat Khuadkaew, 38. Sound like a Thai dispute.

But this is how the Bangkok Post ran the story.

“SURAT THANI — Provincial authorities will look into foreigners running tourism businesses on three islands in this southern province following a shooting incident on the full-moon party island of Koh Phangan. 
A local mayor is facing an attempted murder charge in connection with the incident that was triggered by neighbours' complaints about the Russian-managed bar that he owns.” 
Wongsiri Promchana, the Surat Thani governor, said on Saturday that officials would inspect businesses on Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. The crackdown follows a shooting at Palita Lodge at Hat Rin beach on Koh Phangan early on Jan 12.”  

Thai media reports suggested that the Russians had newly leased the Simiram bar and had then applied to the owner of the Palika if they minded if they held more parties.

Why we do not know? But the Palita Lodge owner Pairot Charoenwan is reported to have replied: ‘I am not in charge of this, why don’t you go ask the authorities?’ 

It seems it was down to him because he duly went off to organize a meeting of the authorities, the local mafia or big noises on the island council at which it was  unanimously decided that the Russians’ bar could not hold any extra parties.

Pairot told the Thai media that he had many complaints from guests unable to sleep after the recently opened bar began holding loud parties in the open past permitted hours.

Dated picture at a Full Moon Party on assignment with Philip Blenkinsop. Pic: Blenkinsop

“They were partying until 8am on Jan. 7,” he said. “So my wife sent a message to police via Line messenger, asking them to intervene.”

Meanwhile police are quoted as saying something along the lines of ‘tut! tut!’ we can’t have the sleep of tourists disturbed.

And then came this quote from a Police Colonel Prachum: “This is a tourism destination. It’s unacceptable for this mafia action.”

Mafia action. Who is the mafia here?

Lock up and pay up. Local police had millions of
extra income every month
This is of course the point at which this story goes into wild fantasy. A party is not a party on Haadrin Beach until it goes on long after dawn and there are revelers collapsed on the sand down to the water line after watching the dawn.  Permitted hours means foreign businessmen’s permitted hours I am guessing.

Reports say that the Simarim bar is next to the  Palita Resort. I guess it must be because guests at the Palita might have trouble hearing any noise from the Chang Phuak. It’s up a hill on  the other side of the bay.  

Half way in between is the spot I went to a couple of years back when Phillip Ashton was killed in the crossfire between warring parties on Koh Phangan.

What gives? Looks like the Russians have been sold a pup. And yea. Despite internationals by the Regional Police chief who says if there were mafia he would catch them, there are indeed mafia throughout the Samui Archipelago.

What to do for five minutes: Check out the TripAdvisor reports for the Chang Phuak Resort – They are very similar to reports on the AC/DC bar owned by the local mafia on Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, where Hannah Witheridge and David Miller are said to have had an argument a few hours before their bodies were found on the beach.

Hannah Witheridge and David Miller

DECLARATION OF INTEREST: As the reader might guess I’m not a great fan of the Samui Archipelago. I was first there 27 years ago when Brits being found dead there today were not even born. Nor would they realise that at this time 27 years ago and even more recent fisherman from these islands became pirates* freely raping and murdering Vietnamese boat people.

With Khun Sa. (I have changed a bit)
After filming in Burma in 1989 for ‘Lord of the Golden Triangle’ on heroin warlord Khun Sa (Chan Shi Fu) camera director Jon Woods and soundman Les Honess went down to Samui for a four day break while I fixed up interviews on the Thai side with the DEA, ONCB, and anti-drugs militia in Fang, Chiang Mai. When I caught up with them in Samui they had hired one of those ridiculous big wheeled jeeps. The brakes failed and with Jon at the wheel it rolled on the road between Chawaeng and Lamai almost sending us over the cliff. We were then subject to the customary extortion by the owner aided by police who had seized our passports. We all had to get out our credits cards and bank cards to get off the island. No choice – we had to continue filming. Not to have done would have cost more. Actually because of the nature of the film, illegally crossing borders, and filming with dodgy people, we had to pay a massive insurance premium – and the insurance company paid the cash back. Jon suffered a neck injury though and ended up directing ‘Coronation Street’ and Les and I remain friends and have met up several times since. 

Jon Woods, Kimi Zabhiyan, self, Les Honess in the Shan States

*Some 800,000 people fled Vietnam between 1975 and 1995.  No statistics were gathered until 1981 by the United Nations but in the first year they were it was recorded that.452 boats carrying Vietnamese boat people arrived in Thailand carrying 15,479 refugees. 349 of the boats had been attacked by pirates an average of three times each. "578 women had been raped; 228 women had been abducted; and 881 people were dead or missing." An international anti-piracy campaign began in June 1982 and reduced the number of pirate attacks although they continued to be frequent and often deadly until 1990.

The Thai pirates in the main came from southern Thailand from Hua Hin to Songhkla including the Samui archipelago. 

Its not known exactly how many Vietnamese died at sea. Figures vary from 200,000 to 400,000.


Ally said...

Are there any Russians left in Thailand? Dam...they must be the last....

Tenasserim said...

I worked as a geologist on the oil rigs south of Samui in Malaysian waters in the early 1980s
We often had packed wooden Vietnamese refugee boats tie up alongside to get food and water. To avoid detection from Thai pirates they took the perilous route straight out into the South China Sea where they used the glow of the oil rig gas flares to guide them to safer Malaysian waters.
Even then there were still cases of attacks by pirates but numbers had reduced compared to the late 70s. Descriptions from some of the guys working at that time were horrifying with bodies floating past the rigs.
A common story was that when the refugee boats where attacked all but the younger women were killed or just thrown in the water to drown. The women were used as slave labour etc. until the boat was ready to return to port. They were then discarded at sea.

Kilgore Trout said...

Don't the Island "Chiefs" kick the land lease income upstairs to the CPB?
Therefore, they have the ultimate in protection.

Steam Punk said...

BKK post published a report todays edition: "....deputy Prime Minister Prawit has instructed local authorities in Surit Thani to stamp out foreign mafia groups in Kho Phangan, Koh Samui...."

Seems he is ignoring the real problem with local mafia and blaming foreigners as per usual Thai norms.


Andrew Drummond said...

Yes I saw that and the Russian guy who leased the bar is up on charges of selling alcohol illegally and working without a permit. Of course there are foreign criminals and underworld figures in Thailand. They are usually partnered up with police. Walter'Whacky' Douglas had bought into koh phangan with local businessmen as well as Samui. But local mafia reign supreme and the bp story is quite ridiculous and just what the Thais want to beleive.

Statmonkey said...

I think that many Thai's know the real story and not to make to fine a point it's more accurate that it's just what those in power who are making money off the status quo want to present as reality. It's a shell game and Thai governments have always been good at creating a distraction to keep the game afoot.

Ron Rushburg said...

KPN; I have many stories from the "noughties", unpunished reckless driving by locals causing deaths & injuries, out pf control drunken cops demolishing a shophouse (hit & run), local cop bashing a low rung local to obtain drugs for personal use and a long time German citizen Beckman who awoke one night to gunmen in his bedroom just before they shot him in the abdomen. Turns it they were young & inexperienced, paid by a local 'influential figure' as Beckman was active on a committee to shut down noisy parties that went on all over the island in defiance of laws. Beckman left Thailand and returned to germany from where he operated (operates?) a website re Ko Pha Ngang.

At one time a new 'sheriff' rode (sailed?) in to town and was doing such a good job of stopping Thai drug mukes at Thong Sala ferry he was transferred. The next 'top' cop was also reputed to be the head of the mafia as well.

My personal favourite is a story about a Norwegian hard drug addict (heroin & Thai meth, Yaa baa)who approached the cop he bought his drugs from and asked for permission to open a cafe and sell drugs to tourists/expats. Mr Plod gave his blessing (as he would be profiting)and so it duly opened and on a signboard was named Yaba Cafe. I shit you not. However within a week the local tambon shut it down; I suppose it was just too overt.

One interesting titbit re Ko tao; back then that island was the only place in Thailand where Thai police carried M16s as standard issue for their own safety. The archipelago is a paradise ruined by the local influential' families. The lesser families become corrupted with money and start acting as gangsters the more money they get.
And the story about the Vietnamese boat people was related to me by an elder from Haad Rin who witnessed a massacre in '79 on Haad Rin beach. Full Moon party goers have no idea of the evil darkness that resides in these people; they truly have no moral compass.

Only in Thailand!

D. Farang said...

It's plain as day that "living the life" in party Thailand for twenty something year olds is part of the draw, the latent danger the draw, a rite of passage, as seen in the movie "The Beach."

Bob Kneale said...

Has anyone else noticed that the photo of the aftermath of a full moon party years ago when there were a lot fewer incidents reported is so different from those that are seen these days? A seemingly peaceful image, can't see any debris on the beach, no-one comatose in their own vomit and not one shaven head lout/loutess exhibiting yobbishness and that howler monkey/footballer type of over-acted yelling at the camera as far as I can see.

I know that there's never any excuse for criminal activity from any party but is it possible that some people's attitude and behaviour has changed massively for the worse over recent years perhaps encouraging altercations and recriminations?

Lancashirelad said...

So what's your point, Boob?
Just because a few young people go a bit "overboard" with their celebrations, does that allow Thai mafia or thugs in uniform to take the law into their own hands and administer their own form of "justice?"

Steam Punk said...

Unfortunately they (Thai thugs /police) can do as they wish with impunity, as they are accountable to no one. There is no solution to the rampant corruption and abuses, the country thrives on it.

Mr. Bronson said...

‘Lord of the Golden Triangle’:

Andrew Drummond said...

That is old copy taken from VHS - certainly not directed by Kimi Zabhiyan though.

Bob Kneale said...

I don't think that my point was exactly invisible.

Can't you ever think of anything to post without resorting to (again) hilariously misspelling my name, this is not Thai Visa, you know?

Andrew Drummond said...

I agree. Please takje a step back from casual insults

Steven Tucker said...

For the record: While the main point of this article, as well as most comments, is quite valid, nonetheless it should not be taken as implicit that only Thais are involved in corruption and systematic crimes and abused in Thailand. There are many foreigners in Thailand -in my experience, they often work on behalf of multinational corporations - who are just as lacking in any morality, and just as evil, murderous, rapine, and even more fixated on power and money, regardless of the damage and death they cause, as any of the worst people that are born to Thailand.

The only thing that attenuates many of these vile individuals is the uncertainty that their corporate sponsors will have their backs if/when the shit hits the fan, and their fear that their Thai partners in corruption will one day just say, "screw this" and arrange for them a nice suicide.

Don't go to Koh Tao and mistake a friendly British smile from your scuba dive instructor for innocence abroad - cross him and you'll discover that he won't hesitate to arrange to have you or your loved ones beaten and maybe raped over an insult to his ego. And don't be fooled by a sublime talent for duplicitous friendliness from some Canadian who is just the 'regional manager' for a foreign agency - he enjoys nothing more than exercising his will to power, and gets off on the fact that many of the Thais in power are dependent enough on his company for their businesses that he can act like their colonial plenipotentiary. The truly evil ones who have stayed for decades are masters at fooling their own countrymen. But the Thais know, and I know, and so, I suspect, do many of the people commenting here.

Go to Koh Tao, and look around with open eyes. If you think, for example, that PADI pays the mafia to be allowed to operate there, you are profoundly mistaken. The reality is quite the other way around. Just ask yourself...who runs the global PR machine that keeps all the kids coming to Koh Tao to "live the life??" Who grants a license to who on that island?

Follow the money on Koh Tao, and you will see that an unbelievable and unreasonable amount of that money leaves that island, leaves Thailand, and ends up as dividends to shareholders in a private equity (vulture capitalist) firm in the US called Lincolnshire Management.

Mafia schmafia. In the US, organized crime went 'legit' decades ago, when they discovered that there was more cash to be stolen legally, as bankers, than illegally as thieves. But that doesn't mean they aren't still a bunch of pathological and malignant sociopaths.

Andrew Drummond said...

Perhaps you can demonstrate how this cash ends up at Lincolnshire Management stevenm before the writs come piling in. I can confirm that certain dive and fishing tour operators in Koh Tao are standing behind the local incluential persons schmafia

Steven Tucker said...

First, allow me to apologize for taking so long to respond. A death in my family, and subsequent issues, demanded my attention.

Second, I realize you are Aussie, and we talk differently. As a journalist, I assume you sincerely seek information. So I am being friendly, not expressing offense, when I tell you that your syntax, to most Americans, generally is taken as condescending and presumptuous of inability. "Perhaps you can do such and such...," in American, means "I don't think you can do such and such, fool." Better to just ask directly, "Can you please demonstrate such and such..."

Third, I assure you that not a single writ will be issued, and no pile will emerge. I am not educated in Aussie law, but I am an American and Lincolnshire is an American concern, and no basis for legal action exists in my comment. This includes my statement that these people are "pathological and malignant sociopaths," which is an objective application of diagnostics published by the APA, given the evidence I have been presented with.

Now then...these are estimates, but I am being conservative, so I stand by these numbers as demonstrative:

Koh Tao has about 50 dive shops. They each pay PADI about $4000 per year for "membership," materials, signage, licensing of copyrighted materials and logos, etc. This is what I referred to when I pointed out that the Thai "schmafia" (I meant to disrespect foreign concerns like PADI with this word, not the Thai people, btw) actually pays PADI an extortion payment, not the other way around. So 50x4000=~$200,000 US.

There are about 400 or so dive professionals on KT, and each pays PADI about $750 a year for fees and insurance, which is $300,000 US.

Each year currently, KT shops train about 500 new instructors, and maybe the same number of divemasters. Most new instructors do an internship to get a higher credential. Each level requires an application fee of several hundred dollars in addition to the standard fees and insurance. So 500 DMs each pay PADI about $1000 at the start, that's $500,000 US.

In addition, new instructors pay for an examination, about $400. That's $400,+ $750 standard fees, + $600 application fees, for 500 people = $875,000 US.

Last year, over 100,000 diver certifications were issued island-wide. PADI gets $30 or so for each, plus another $30 for manuals, etc. That's $6,000,000 US.

So, discounting merchandise and other incidentals, we have $200k + $300k + $500k + $875k + $6 million =

~$7,875,000 US per year leaving Koh Tao for America, (!!!!!!)

in return for some plastic cards and some paperback books which cost about $300,000 to produce. The half dozen PADI employees involved are only there to collect the tribute, and the marketing is mostly paid for by additional diver donations and volunteers.

Seven and a half million bucks. Each year. For an unnecessary agency that is the key player in an epic and monumental environmental catastrophe that has, in fact, decimated the entire coral reef system that once ringed Koh Tao. It is all dead or moribund, killed by overuse and the development (run-off, toxic materials, invasive plant species, etc etc) created to support that overuse, and by the complete and utter polluting of the sea with wastewater, petrochemicals, and raw human waste. It is the most horrifying single example of coral reef decimation I have ever seen, and that would include Pearl Harbor and its surroundings.

Steven Tucker said...

PADI pushed that development, created it, manipulated it, and is still planning for growth over the next 5 years...

In about 7 years, the island will have to be abandoned due to accumulation of toxic waste and dioxin, as well as the fact that the former aquifer under the island is now filled with septic, which seeps out during the monsoons as what I call "shit springs." You can not swim in the water off Sairee Beach without getting massive infections. The sea floor there is covered with a sludge that you cannot wash off of your feet or frisbees - you must use a solvent. I am not exaggerating.

A few years back, they dug a reservoir to provide water (no more aquifer, remember...). The entire pile of excavated dirt was left next to the dig. It all washed into Tanote Bay with the first rain, and covered an entire bay's reef in 2 meters of silt.

Each day, 9 tons of trash is created. The incinerator handles 5 tons a day. There is a trash heap on the hill 15 meters high and as big as about 10 football fields. The entire island is awash in petroleum, paint, and other toxic waste that is never disposed of correctly, and they burn plastics on the hillside, which is the source of the dioxin. By American standards, it is what we would call a "superfund" site.

Steven Tucker said...

In summary, PADI provides a curriculum that is minimal, which could have been created by the local people - I volunteered to organize the effort 20 years ago - and since they have a business model based on per capita payments, they have pushed and pushed an agenda of high numbers, low prices, and maximum growth rate. They have convinced the Thais that without PADI, there would be no business - which is simply a lie, a con game. They are an unnecessary evil, seeking only maximum short-term profits, and they have taken a priceless asset that could have generated trillions of dollars, food, medicines and other compounds, etc etc to the Thai people for centuries to come, and they have destroyed it in a decade, in order to extract maybe $100,000,000 US in payments for their exploitation of the situation. They consider it a profound success, and are attempting to reproduce the model wherever there are reefs, poor people, no regulations, and corrupt officials. They pay no bribes - they entice the officials to invest their own money in the get-rich-quick dream.

Oh, perhaps I should mention - PADI is a wholly owned property of Lincolnshire Management, acquired through a leveraged buyout a few years back.

I should also add that yes, you are correct, the dive operators stand behind the influential people. But PADI/Lincolnshire are the ones in control on Koh Tao. And they are also standing behind both the locals and the dive professionals there - with knife in hand, so that when the time comes, they can stab them all in the back.

Because they have an exit strategy for when the shit hits the public awareness - they plan to claim that they knew nothing, and then file suit against Thailand for loss of investment and projected profits. (Don't ask me to explain how this is possible, just google international corporate law and how it works within the treaties the US has with Thailand. Or take my word for it, either way.) They probably won't win the suit, but they will preserve their public image, and dump the blame for the catastrophe on the Thais.

And if Thailand gets its act together, the nation will sue those dive operators for every penny they made, in order to clean up the toxic waste and filth. But the reefs will likely never come back, at least not for many centuries, at the least.

PADI is already working on plans for the Burma Banks, btw. And if PADI does become a toxic asset, Lincolnshire will simply dump it and move to the next venture. Lovely.

Now, go back and read my first comment, and it will make perfect sense if it did not before...And to answer what should be your next question, yes, I have documented evidence of all of this except the planned lawsuit, which was told to me verbally. In fact, this ain't even the whole story, it is much, much worse, and far more absurd and disturbing...

I am now very curious what you will say in response. Perhaps you will have more questions before the shits come bubbling down the hill...

Steven Tucker said...

PS, if you want a good demonstration PADI Aussie, tell them you are a reporter, and ask them about Koh Tao's reefs and pollution, and their plans to lead the clean up (there will be no clean up). Then ask them if they maintain their course standards there, and how (they churn out the most ill-prepared, unsafe divers in the world). Then ask them how much money is donated to "Project Aware" on Koh Tao each year, and where that money goes, and how much they give back (OMG!). Then, just for grins, tell them that you are following up on a documented story told to you by a guy named Steven Tucker, a former PADI Staff Instructor. I assure you that the lack of information will be offset by the entertainment value of the exchange...

Andrew Drummond said...

we should talk

Robbo said...

Of all new diving instructors on Koh Tao, only 5% are still teaching after 12 months. do your maths again