Archive | Thailand

Bangkok Bombing: Police Release Sketch of Main Suspect

2015 08 20BKKbomb

Following my post yesterday: Here’s the latest from my WSJ colleagues in Bangkok:

Thailand’s prime minister urged the main suspect in the bombing that killed 20 people in Bangkok this week to turn himself in, while police released a sketch of the alleged bomber and described him for the first time as a foreigner.

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha’s remarks on Wednesday also acknowledged that the investigators were attempting to track down a wider-ranging network that they say is responsible for Monday’s blast at a shrine in the center of the city.

Meanwhile, inserted above and on YouTube here: an embeddable version of the dash cam footage showing the blast.

And here’s footage of the explosion at the Chao Phraya river on Tuesday.

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Bangkok Bombings: Latest Updates and How to Follow the News

2015 08 19bkkbomb

A and I returned to Singapore Monday morning after a couple of weeks of traveling. Then that evening came the sad news about the bombings in Bangkok.

From our latest WSJ story:

Thai police said they were homing in on a suspect seen in security-camera footage of the bomb blast that killed at least 20 people, most of them foreign tourists, in the Thai capital.

A second explosive device on Tuesday was thrown from a bridge over Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. The bomb narrowly missed a busy pier where commuters waited for taxi boats, falling into the river where it exploded. No one was injured.

The blast, which threw a column of water into the air, deepened the sense of unease in a city where many commuters chose to stay at home and some tourists avoided the usually bustling malls and temples of downtown Bangkok.

The Economist has more on the context:

Low-level political violence is not uncommon in Thailand—which is riven by a kind of class war in which two military coups have succeeded in less than ten years—but the attack on August 17th was unprecedented in scale. The blast, caused by a pipe stuffed with TNT, did only relatively moderate damage to the shrine itself and the buildings that surround it. But timed to explode during the evening rush hour, and positioned at an intersection often packed with shoppers and tourists, it was designed to kill and maim a maximal number of bystanders. The dead included visitors from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. A young girl was among the injured.

Meanwhile, this dash cam footage shows the force of the Erawan Shrine bomb:

วินาทีระเบิดที่แยกราชประสงค์ วันที่ 17 สิงหาคม 2015 ภาพจากกล้องในรถผมครับ

Posted by Pimornrat Nana Puttayot on Monday, August 17, 2015

Quartz has a roundup of pics and videos.

For ongoing updates, here’s my public Twitter list of more than 100 media people in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand.

I especially recommend longtime Thailand blogger Richard Barrow, who frequently tweets information of interest to tourists and others in the city.

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President Obama, ‘If You Were a Rohingya…”

A Thai attendee at a recent Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative event at the White House asked President Obama the following question: “If you were a Rohinya, which country would you prefer to live in, and why?”

Now, the question drew snickers, because it’s a bit odd to ask the world’s most powerful man what he would do if he were a member of one of the world’s most persecuted peoples.

But it was actually an effective query because it forced him to personalize the question. Part of his answer: I think I’d like to live in the country where I was born.

For more on the plight of the Rohingya, here’s a recent story providing the context:

Since early May, more than 4,600 boat people from Myanmar and Bangladesh have been brought ashore from Southeast Asian waters. Several thousand more are believed to still be at sea after human smugglers abandoned their boats amid a regional crackdown.

Some are Bangladeshis who left their impoverished homeland in hope of finding jobs abroad. But many are Rohingya Muslims who have fled persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which has denied them basic rights, including citizenship, and confined more than 100,000 to camps. There are more than one million Rohingya living in the country formerly known as Burma.

You can also click on the Rohingya tag to see posts I’ve written about them dating back to 2009.

(Formatting note: This link to the video should take you to the 41:58 mark in the video, when President Obama was asked the question. The embedded video starts from the beginning of the event.)

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Video from Thailand Shows Pedestrian Bridge Built Around Overhead Cables

I don’t know the context, but it looks like the people who built this pedestrian flyover in Thailand simply worked around the existing overhead cables.

The remarkable video, which I first spotted on Facebook here, is embedded above and available on YouTube. Gets interesting about a minute in.

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‘Bangkok Airport’ — Trailer for New Show Coming to BBC Three

Given my many previous posts about Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point this out.

Embedded above and on YouTube here: A trailer for “Bangkok Airport,” a series of six hour-long shows about the facility and the people who work there and pass through it.

It looks…quite entertaining.

Thailand Uber-blogger Richard Barrow has more, and says the show begins Jan. 22.

Additional details from a BBC press release:

Bangkok Airport (w/t) – 6 x 60 minutes

Bangkok airport, the gateway to South-East Asia, is a thriving, bustling hub of excitement and anticipation, of pale arrivals to tanned departures and everything in between. BBC Three has gained unparalleled access to all aspects of the airport in this thrilling six-part series which sees young Brits passing through to embark on adventures of a lifetime. Each episode follows some of the thousands of youth British travellers checking in and checking out, run-ins with the tourist police, incidents in immigration, customs, treatment at the on-site medical centre, missed flights, expired passports and emergencies abroad. The action takes place inside and occasionally outside the airport – at island trouble spots and the British Embassy in downtown Bangkok. And in a unique twist, contributors’ UGC (user generated content) will be used alongside fly-on-the-wall docusoap content. Bangkok Airport is made by Keo Films. It is series produced by Fiona Inskip and executive produced by Paula Trafford. BBC commissioning editor is Sam Bickley.

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The AP on Thai Junta’s Asset Disclosures

The AP reports:

Asset disclosures by members of Thailand’s military-dominated post-coup Cabinet reveal they are quite well-off, a trait shared with the civilian politicians they accused of corruption.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission on Friday released the asset declarations of the 33 Cabinet ministers, 25 of whom are millionaires in dollar terms.

Allegations of corruption and inappropriately gained wealth have played a major role in the country’s fractious politics in the last decade. The current government has made fighting corruption a priority, though its critics believe the policy is being wielded mainly as a weapon against its political rivals, particularly those connected to the elected government it ousted.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who as army commander led a May coup d’etat, listed 128.6 million baht ($3.9 million) in assets and 654,745 baht ($20,000) in liabilities. Under the disclosure laws, assets belonging to spouses and children under 21 must be included. He also reported the transfer of 466.5 million baht ($14.3 million) to other family members.

Before his retirement at the end of September, the general received a 1.4 million baht ($43,000) annual salary as army chief. His assets include a Mercedes Benz S600L car, a BMW 740Li Series sedan, luxury watches, rings and several pistols.

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Travelfish Founder Stuart McDonald Talks Southeast Asia Travel

If you’re interested in Southeast Asia travel, you might enjoy listening to this podcast interview with Stuart McDonald, founder of the travel site Travelfish.org.

McDonald has been traveling in the region for more than 20 years, and has some interesting thoughts on how travel — and travelers — have changed over time.

He talks mainly about Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia, and suggests an intinerary for a one-month tour through the region. His recommendation might surprise you.

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‘Hunger Games’ Salute, Facebook outage and more: a Belated Roundup of Thai Coup Stories

As I mentioned in my previous post, I traveled to Bangkok to help out with our coverage following the May 22 military coup.

Here are links to a few of the stories I worked on:

And, perhaps most memorably:

The lede:

Anti-coup protesters in Thailand are adopting a symbol of resistance from a science fiction movie in which citizens struggle against a tyrannical government in a dark, dystopian future.

A few dozen demonstrators on Sunday gathered in a flash-mob style protest at a Bangkok shopping mall, where many held anti-army signs and raised their hands in a three fingered salute aimed at nearby troops.

The gestures were similar to those used by heroine Katniss Everdeen and other characters in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” a globally popular movie based on one of Suzanne Collins’s hit trilogy of books. Western films and other popular culture are widely consumed in Thailand.

To hear me discussing the three-fingered “Hunger Games” salute, see the WSJ Live video embedded above and online here.

And finally, for more on the Facebook issue, see this story I wrote just a few days ago:

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Thai army declares martial law — how to follow the news

2014 05 20 bkk post coup rumors

Our main story today:

Thailand’s armed forces declared martial law early Tuesday, saying the move was intended to curb the country’s sometimes violent political conflict and wasn’t a coup d’état.

Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha issued a pair of statements at 3 a.m. and later appeared on television to say that martial law was necessary across the country to address the worsening security situation. The army later said it would censor media it deemed inflammatory. Thailand is bitterly divided between supporters of its populist government and its conservative opponents who have been massing on the streets for over half a year in a bid to topple the administration.

In the military’s first announcement, Gen. Prayuth said the escalating violence related to political protests in and around Bangkok have “a tendency to stir riot and serious chaos in several areas, which affect national security and people’s safety.”

Before Gen. Prayuth went on air, Army-run television station Channel 5 ran a ticker message across the bottom of its screen urging the public not to panic.

“The army aims to keep peace and maintain the safety and security of the people of all sides,” it said. “Please do not be alarmed and carry on with business as usual. This is not a coup.”

For ongoing updates, see our live stream of photos, text stories, and Tweets.

I also suggest checking out Bangkok Pundit, Saksith Saiyasombut, and — for academic and historical perspectives — New Mandala.

There’s also my 109-strong Twitter list of Bangkok journalists.

(Image above: The front page of The Bangkok Post on January 27, 2010.)

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