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MediaWATCH: Bar Pranks and Burma's Justice

MediaWATCH: Bar Pranks and Burma's Justice

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Phuketwan MediaWATCH

A new daily wrap of Thailand news, with a Phuket perspective. Reports from national and international media, with translations into English from Thai.

TWO WOMEN dominate the news today in Thailand and in the country that provides Phuket with the greatest number of tourists, Australia. Both face five year jail terms. One, aged 36, is the alleged victim of a Patong bar prank. The other, aged 63, is the rightfully elected leader of Burma, engaged in a symbolic struggle for democracy.

Today's Must Read

heraldsun.com.au Columnist Andrew Bolt writes: ''Even in more 'refined' resorts such as Phuket, you'll find thousands more Australians boozing, screeching, ogling, pawing, bullying and haggling over everything from T-shirts to a girl, as if every dollar saved from a Thai was worth a hundred to an Aussie, rather than the other way around.'' He adds: ''Look, I know I exaggerate. There are many thousands of Australians touring Thailand respectfully, or living and working there by all the good rules you'd wish . . . we should mind our mouths because the kind of Australians many Thais see are the kind whose preaching on morals would raise not a blush of remorse but a laugh.''

monstersandcriticis.com Burma's junta is pushing through the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi at unusual speed, one of her lawyers said on the second day of the court case. ''Maybe it will be finished by next week,'' said Nyan Win, who is also the spokesman for the opposition National League for Democracy party. On Tuesday, prosecutors presented five witnesses. The trial will resume today.

bbc.com: The BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok says the Asean statement of ''grave concern'' for Aung San Suu Kyi may not change much because Asean ''has discovered its voice carries little weight with [Burma's] military rulers.'' The closed-door trial of the Nobel Laureate, whose health is known to be fragile, began on Monday amid tight security. Many observers see the case as a pretext to ensure she is in jail during next year's elections.

mizzima.com The international community's calls for the release of Burma's pro-democracy leader ''needs to turn into action that will force the country's military rulers to free her as well as other political prisoners.'' David Scott Mathieson, Burma consultant for Human Rights Watch in Bangkok, said these calls by governments from around the world should be followed up by actions to force the junta to yield to the calls. Mathieson said it is also crucial for the international community to put pressure on governments including China and Russia, which are supportive of the Burmese regime.

irrawaddi.org Many observers agree that a start could be made on at least ending ongoing human rights abuses if oil and gas companies operating in Burma use their influence with Burma's ruling junta, the State Peace and Development Council. Current investors in Burma's oil and gas industry include companies from Australia, the British Virgin Islands, China, France, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Russia and the US. ''The oil and gas companies have been one of the major industries keeping the regime in power," says one expert. The concept of ''corporate social responsibility'' is often advanced by companies operating in Burma, usually just a shield for campaigns against international environmental and human rights regulations.

theage.com.au: A Melbourne mother of four is stranded in Thailand and facing a possible jail term over what she says was a practical joke that backfired. Annice Smoel, 36, has pleaded for Australian Government help during an emotional telephone call from Thailand, where she has been granted bail on a theft charge. She has missed being with her eldest daughter, who had emergency surgery for appendicitis, and the 11th birthday of her second-eldest.

news.com.au Annice Smoel was drunk and shouted at Thai police who arrested her for stealing a mat from a bar, police and witnesses say. Witnesses said she abused two policemen and demanded to see their superior after being arrested outside the Aussie Bar in Patong about 2am on May 3. ''She was very rude to the two police, but they didn't properly understand what she was saying," said the police major in charge of the case. "They brought her to me, and she was very loud." Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith says there is a limit to what the Government can do: ''We hope that it's resolved as quickly as possible.''

couriermail.com.au Four girls whose mother is facing five years in a Thai jail have made a plea to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to bring her home. ''Please, please, please Mr Rudd, let our Mummy come home,'' said 12-year-old Zhian Smoel on behalf of her sisters Daisy, 11, Zoe, 8, and Lilly, 6.

theage.com.au A Melbourne-based American couple returned to Thailand to find themselves arrested and blamed for a fire that destroyed a house they once rented on Phuket. Logan Hesse and Urica Lopez said nothing more had been heard about their house fire, originally blamed on an electrical fault, until they arrived at Bangkok last month. They were immediately detained and their passports were confiscated by police who told them a Phuket arrest warrant was outstanding for ''criminal damage''. The costs started piling up from that point.

Komchadluek: Srinakharinwirot University in Bangkok is offering a new program in 2010 for expat English teachers in Thailand to overcome cultural problems and determine suitability.

thairath.co.th: A German woman tourist who arrived in Thailand on May 12 and died on Saturday in Hua Hin was a victim of pneumonia, not the H1N1 virus, doctors reported after lab tests.

Associated Press: A Thai court says it will rule in August on a US extradition request for a man believed to be the world's most notorious arms smuggler. Russian Victor Bout, 42, was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 and is reputed to be linked to some of the world's most notorious conflicts.

Phuketwan Phuket News

Asean's 'Grave Concern' at Burma Secret Trial
Latest The expected criticism of Burma and its treatment of democrat shining light Aung San Suu Kyi comes from Asean as representatives from 27 countries meet on Phuket.
Asean's 'Grave Concern' at Burma Secret Trial

Temper Tantrums Call for a Phuket Tourist Court
Latest The arrest of an Australian woman over what seems a silly bar prank exposes again the problem of resurrecting Phuket's tourism industry across a cultural chasm.
Temper Tantrums Call for a Phuket Tourist Court

Phuket Insurance Bid: Patong Jetskis Multiply
Latest A meeting of authorities, police and jetski communities hears of plans for compulsory insurance, and the mystery of how jetski numbers grew beyond limits.
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Lifesaving, Surf Titles Come in Phuket Wave
Latest Surf's up on Patong this Summer, with beach boys and girls learning how to swim and ride boards. In July, the lifesaving carnival returns, better than before.
Lifesaving, Surf Titles Come in Phuket Wave

Jet Me Out Of Here! Stayput Simon All Set to Fly
Airport Photo Album After an extra three months of ''holiday'' on Phuket, troubled British tourist Simon Burrowes was finally on a flight for Singapore set for takeoff at 5.50pm. Good luck, Simon!
Jet Me Out Of Here! Stayput Simon All Set to Fly

Recent Phuketwan MediaWATCH

MediaWATCH: Aussie Mother's Patong Arrest Limbo
Latest An Australian mother arrested in a Patong bar finds herself in limbo on Phuket, facing a long jail term over a petty theft she says was a prank by friends; Latest on Aung San Suu Kyi.
MediaWATCH: Aussie Mother's Patong Arrest Limbo

MediaWATCH: Flu Surge Sweeps Japan
Latest: Japan becomes alarmed as H1N1 breaks out in schools; WHO may move to pandemic Level 6; PM talks of orange as the new red and yellow; Aung San Suu Kyi faces trial today.
MediaWATCH: Flu Surge Sweeps Japan

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