Highlights of the week
Thais across the country turned out in force to celebrate HM the King's birthday on Wednesday; the unrest in the far South takes a turn for the worse with two teachers killed and one seriously wounded in a matter of two weeks; and a three-day blackout in Koh Samui and Koh Phangan drove most tourists away before electricity supplies were resurrected on Friday morning.
- Published: 7/12/2012 at 12:25 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
The murder of a female Buddhist teacher in Narathiwat on Monday and the wounding of another Buddhist teacher in the same province the following day once again highlighted the deadly threat confronted by teachers who have chosen to pursue a career in the three southernmost provinces.
Chatsuda Nilsuwan, 32, who taught at Ban Tangoe school in Cho Airong district of Narathiwat was shot dead as she was riding her motorcycle back home from the school. She became the 155th educator killed in the nearly nine years since the insurgency movement re-emerged in the far South.
Her violent death prompted 17 schools in the district to close down for the safety of the teachers. They are due to reopen next Tuesday.
One day later, in Sungai Padi district, insurgents shot and seriously wounded Thirapol Chusongsaeng, 52, a teacher at Ban Bor Kor school who also on his way home from school, riding a motorcycle, when attacked.
A soldier inspects a burnt down classroom building at a school in the southern province of Pattani on Nov 29, 2012. (EPA photo)
The twin attacks followed the murder of Nanthana Kaewchan, director of Ban Tha Kam Cham in Nong Chik district of Pattani on Nov 22. Her death led to the Confederation of Teachers in the three southernmost provinces temporarily closing more than 300 state schools in the province and demanding better protection.
Security agencies agree dto review their security measures for southern teachers, who also renewed their call for increased hazard allowances and compensation for teachers working in the restive region.
Meanwhile, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has decided to bring criminal murder charges against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban for the death of a taxi-driver killed by soldiers during the violent red-shirt protests against the Democrat-led government in 2010 in which at least 90 people were killed, mainly protesters but also soldiers, innocent civilians, medics and journalists.
DSI chief Tarit Pengdit said on Thursday that the decision to bring criminal charges, including murder, against Mr Abhisit and also Mr Suthep, who was director of Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation, was unanimously agreed by a tripartite panel of investigators from the DSI, police and the prosecution.
He said that the decision was based on the Criminal Court’s Sept 17 ruling that the cabbie, Phan Khamkong, was killed by high velocity bullets fired by soldiers near the Ratchaprarop Airport Link station on the night of May 14, 2010.
Mr Tarit said there was documentary evidence that the CRES ordered security forces to recapture areas seized by the red-shirt protesters and authorised the use of firearms against the protesters.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, left, and Tarit Pengdith (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)
He also accused Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep of failing to order a stop to the crackdown after some people were killed.
Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalayasut denounced the criminal charges as political persecution and an abuse of state authority.
On Monday, the Criminal Court sentenced red shirt co-leader Arisman Pongruangrong to one year in prison after finding him guilty of defamation for making false allegations against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Arisman was granted bail after his lawyer posted 200,000 baht as a surety.
Earlier, on Nov 30, the Criminal Court withdrew bail for another red shirt co-leader and Pheu Thai list MP Korkaew Pikulthong for making public remarks deemed as intimidation of the Constitution Court judges and thereby breaching his bail conditions.
Thailand’s two top island tourist destinations, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, suffered a power outage for three days after a section of the undersea power cable connecting them to the mainland ruptured on Tuesday at a power station in Khanom district of Surat Thani.
Most tourists were reported to have fled the islands before power supplies were finally brought back early Friday morning. Total damage to the tourism sector have yet to be determined, but some people were saying it could be several billions of baht.
Acting governor of the Provincial Electricity Authority Namchai Lowatthanatrakun said that cable rupture was caused by the surge in electricity usage during the high tourism season.
In a spontaneous show of loyalty towards His Majesty on the occasion of his 85th birthday on Dec 5, hundreds of thousands Thais in Bangkok and from other provinces flocked to the Royal Plaza for a glimpse of the King and the royal family.
The unprecedented crowd, most wearing yellow T-shirts or hats, overfilled the plaza and spilled into Ratchadamnoen Nok road. They braved the hot sun, waving little yellow and Thai national flags as they waited patiently for grand audience, only the 10th of the King's reign. They broke in a contionuous chant of "Long Live the King" when first his Majesty appeared alone on the Seha Banchorn balcony of the Throne Hall and was later joined by members of his family.
Celebrations continued well into the evening, long after the King returned to his royal suite at Siriraj Hospital. Throughout the country, people turned out at provincial and town halls and also joined the celebrations.
About the author
- Writer: Veera Prateepchaikul
- Position: Former Editor