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The tattooed man, allegedly the killer, leaves a Phuket 7-Eleven store with a knife

Phuket Expats Turn to Killing and Crime: Ugly Underbelly Exposed

Saturday, August 14, 2010
News Analysis: Photo Album Above

IN THE past few weeks, the breezy, balmy image of Phuket as a peaceful tropical island holiday destination for longstay tourists and residents has been blown asunder.

A German arrested for burglary . . . a Frenchman accused of stealing from a fellow traveller at Phuket airport . . . an American who admitted to stabbing to death a naked bar girl . . . and now, an Englishman on the run over the apparent revenge murder of a young American.

This will shock most expat residents, especially those who, until the past few weeks, preferred to imagine that all the crimes on Phuket were committed by Thais or tourists.

On Internet chat sites, some of them have even defended the character of expat residents in general and attempted to imply that the expat community is a model of social tolerance and cohesion.

With the manhunt now on for ''Mr Lee,'' the Englishman whom police believe stabbed to death American Dashawn Longfellow early today, that facade has finally fallen.

Expat residents and long-stay tourists, it appears, are just as liable to the human frailties that assail people in all the other places beyond Phuket.

And Thai locals, long criticised unfairly for the actions of a few scamsters and rip-off merchants, are now entitled to begin to wonder why so many expats are turning out to be criminals and thugs.

Today's dramatic murder on Phuket was preceded by revelations earlier this week of the thuggery of British and European criminals in the property industry of Huan Hin, a resort south of Bangkok, and the Old Bailey guilty verdict for Paul Cryne, an expat hitman who flew from Thailand to kill a disabled woman in Britain.

These cases follow the slaying of Sweethearts Bar hostess Wanpen Pianchai by American Ronald Fanelli, one of the most savage killings Phuket has experienced.

Today's killing raises even more questions about the Phuket community. While a wealthy Russian recently paid US$24 million for a villa on a beach just north of Phuket, it's plain that not every visitor who arrives at Phuket airport is so well-heeled - or well-intentioned.

Questions will probably also be asked by the Thai authorities about the mixture of drinking and Thai kick-boxing that appear to have been ingredients in the latest killing. Bars are supposed to shut by 1am. This one was still going at 4.30am, police officers say.

As the popularity of muay Thai boxing has grown around the world, camps for Thai boxing have flourished throughout the island, but especially in the Rawai and Chalong regions, to the island's south. Some expats who come for these camps are not as committed to the principles that Thai exponents of the sport follow.

There can be an absence of the self-discipline that many traditional Thai kick-boxers show. Mix the holiday island atmosphere with testosterone and alcohol, often served at bars where nobody is ever refused service for being intoxicated, and you have the ingredients for deep trouble.

Tourist industry officials say Phuket is moving up-market, with more four-star and five-star customers coming. That may be true, but the discounts forced on resorts by political violence in Bangkok earlier in the year also mean more people with less obvious wealth are able to afford holidays on Phuket.

Those who live on Phuket, those who come for a holiday and decide to stay, or those who come for a specific purpose, are clearly just as susceptible to the less desirable human passions and emotions as any other group.
Phuket Manhunt for Expat Killer: Englishman Knifes American to Death After Fight in Bar
Updating Report A massive manhunt was on across Phuket today for an Englishman who fled after knifing an American to death at a southern resort. The murder came after they fought in a bar.
Phuket Manhunt for Expat Killer: Englishman Knifes American to Death After Fight in Bar

Thailand Risky for Drugs, Booze, Bikes, Brits Warned
Travellers and Trouble Latest British figures reflect the evidence that tourists and expat residents can find trouble in Thailand more easily than in most other places.
Thailand Risky for Drugs, Booze, Bikes, Brits Warned

Phuket Bar Killing: Inside the Mind of the 'Mad Yank'
Latest One of Phuket's most brutal murders involving an expat leaves questions unanswered. Now an old friend of Ronald 'Mad Yank' Fanelli fills in some of the gaps.
Phuket Bar Killing: Inside the Mind of the 'Mad Yank'

Phuket Bar's Pain Ends But Killers Remain Free
Latest Murders involving expats on Phuket are rare but one of the worst, a double murder, was committed by a British man. Here's a Phuketwan update on the region's remaining mysteries.
Phuket Bar's Pain Ends But Killers Remain Free

Comments

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Unfortunately more low end airlines result in more low end tourists. More and more of the sort I came Phuket to get away from are travelling here. This is the sort of baggage they bring unfortunately.The behaviour of a lot of the tourists at the moment leaves a lot to be desired by this long term resident and they do not do credit to their home countries. I was always taught to be an ambassador while abroad, not a thug.

Posted by Mister Ree on August 14, 2010 15:32

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Seems like the Editor here is continuing his war against his readership.

Posted by Benjie on August 14, 2010 17:22

Editor Comment:

What a strange thing to say, Benjie. Are you in favor of murderers, thugs, stand-over men, and crims of all kinds? Or only if they're your kind of murderers, thugs, stand-over men and crims?

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I'm glad to see you pointed out that foreign boxers are not committed to Thai principles.

My apologies to the guys that do have proper Muay Thai principles, but these camps churn out more thugs then real fighters.

Posted by Sean on August 14, 2010 17:22

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The young lads come into Phuket in the camps to do Muay Thai and they think they can take on the world and all in her. Also the main problem is they come in large groups and go round the bars, not drinking for long periods then hitting the drink in one big night.

Posted by Anonymous on August 14, 2010 17:23

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you mean a russian paid $24 million for a 30 year lease on a villa north of phuket. farang can't buy villas!!

Posted by another steve on August 14, 2010 19:15

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"While a wealthy Russian recently paid US$24 million for a villa on a beach just north of Phuket, it's plain that not every visitor who arrives at Phuket airport is so well-heeled - or well-intentioned."

So the writer KNOWS that this Russian earned his money in an honest fashion, that he is well-heeled, and that he has good intentions. All that just because he has money?

Posted by Angela on August 14, 2010 23:54

Editor Comment:

That's not what the paragraph says. We know he is well-heeled. That's all we know. That's all we say.

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All crimes and murders are wrong, no doubt about that.

But perhaps the editor can supply figures of crimes committed by Thais, including murders and manslaughters, and compare them to the crimes committed by expats and the fact of this article that the Thais have been unfairly branded due to some "scamsters" would be shown to be totally incorrect.

(moderated)

Posted by Jimmy on August 15, 2010 01:05

Editor Comment:

In a country of 65 million or so people, there are 65 million or so individuals. To generalise about any group among them without providing evidence only promotes bigotry - and all bigotry, like all crimes and murders, is wrong. If I said ''British police are all gun-crazy maniacs,'' you might understand the point that's being made. The statistics for all recorded crimes committed by and against expats on Phuket in the first four months of the year have been posted on Phuketwan since May. What the figures show is that the number of crimes committed on expats in the first four months of the year was quite small. Expat have as much to fear from other expats as they do from Thais. Individual relationships are what matters. If you are being scammed often, change your lifestyle and surround yourselves with good Thais. There are millions of them.

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The problem with Thailand is that it is a lawless society where corruption at all levels persists. Such a society attracts lawless and corrupt people of all levels who have the ability to easily fit in. I've lived here for 5 years and can vouch for the fact that many, many farangs are here to make a fast buck, or fast woman, or both. Reap what you sow, Phuket.

Disillusioned

Posted by Anonymous on August 15, 2010 07:04

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Good article and so true,there are too many problems especially connected to foreign muay thai, especially the ones who drink and take drugs...

Look at the amount who have been involved in deaths including motorbike accidents, fights, murders etc...where will it end?

Posted by barka on August 15, 2010 08:31

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Congratulations to Phuket Wan for dipping your toe into yet another sensitive subject.

I also worry about the amount of money coming to this island from foreign investors and where it's coming from. And let's just admit it, we all have an idea and have heard the rumors. Drugs, sex, money laundering, mafia etc etc.

Whilst I'm sure that some of it is legitimately earned, to what extent is unknown and as so many readers have pointed out with regards to the types of people who are attracted to Phuket, it appears more and more that it is individuals who are seeking out a place where the law is not the law.

The more long-term farangs you meet here, the more ''disillusioned'' one becomes. Most come in search of something, and it is appearing more and more likely, to me at least, that it is the ''culture'' here that is drawing the wrong types of individuals. When I say ''culture'' I am referring to the melting pot that is Phuket.

The mix of current political practices, the culture of entrenched corruption, the constant prostrations to Mammon, sex tourism, drugs, excessive consumption of alcohol, and not to mention all the financial reasons people come here, mean that you will, as another pointed out ''reap what you sow''.

I don't blame Thais for their views on farangs here and I don't blame farangs for their views of Thai people here. This island in many ways attracts the worst of both worlds and conjures up visions of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Having said that, there are honorable people here, both Thai and Farang, but they take some seeking out, and living in a 'bubble'' and trying to see the good things here and remaining, whilst aware of the bad, living in that bubble of sunshine is not such a bad way to deal with life here.

Posted by Anonymous on August 15, 2010 10:12

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Most of crimes in Phuket are from Thais from other provinces or from foreigners and now from expats living in Phuket.

With all the bad reports about expats behavior in the past few months, we may expect a strong reaction from the Thai Authorities with more controls and more hassles from Phuket Immigration and the Labor Department.

The laxness in Thai Consulates abroad to give without substantial investigations, a lot of Educational Visa (ED) for one-year visa to too many pseudo-students is attracting many bad guys to use that type of visa for long stays.

Companies and Muay Thai Schools which provide document to get issued that type of visa should be responsible for the behavior of their students during their stays.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 15, 2010 11:23

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To, Posted by Anonymous on Sunday August 15, 2010 at 10:12,
I say Bravo on a good comment.

Posted by Robin on August 15, 2010 11:58

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"Tourist industry officials say Phuket is moving up-market, with more four-star and five-star customers coming. That may be true, but the discounts forced on resorts by political violence in Bangkok earlier in the year also mean more people with less obvious wealth are able to afford holidays on Phuket. "

"While a wealthy Russian recently paid US$24 million for a villa on a beach just north of Phuket, it's plain that not every visitor who arrives at Phuket airport is so well-heeled - or well-intentioned."

These paragraphs are very contradictive and suggestive.

Not much objective journalism that's for sure.

Posted by Anonymous on August 15, 2010 12:53

Editor Comment:

As a comment with no name to it, your opinion is hardly objective, that's for sure. The article is what it says it is: News Analysis.

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Yet another interesting article on this site. Good job. And an interesting post by Anonymous.

I have observed that in the past a lot of the expats I met here came for one of two reasons. Either they were seeking something (love, freedom, fresh start) or they were running from something (ex-wife, job, boredom, their past in general and in a few cases the law). As stated before, those looking for something often don't find it and you can run but can't hide.

In other words, we are who we are and end up facing most of the same issues and looking for the same things we were in our homelands.

Thailand is a country that really does offer a great deal of personal freedom. Something I love. But part of that package is there are not a lot of barriers. People can pretty much do whatever they want, for better or worse no one is checking up on you.

Want to get drunk and stay drunk you can, drive crazy, etc. the normal social limits are pretty out the window and the Thais will leave you alone.

That also means that there are no support systems or safety net so that when people fall, they really go down. (Mental illness is a good example, whether for good or bad there really are not facilities for treatment or protecting these people from themselves or others from them).

It is really endemic to a free society (as in free from restriction) that these people are left to roam. There have always been people on the fringes of our community who struggled with this freedom.

I have always believed that a lot of the laws, inspection and such in the west were unneeded. That left to their own, people would behave within limits, and society could self-regulate. Currently in the community this theory is being tested.

It seems clear to me that tolerating aberrant behavior among expats can't go on. Either we begin to police our own community to some extent or we will force this society to do it for us. When the immigration rules, restrictions (or worse) become tighter, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Posted by Ya Think Doctor? on August 15, 2010 13:21

Editor Comment:

I hope your thought-provoking response reaches the wide expat and Thai audience it deserves, along with the Anonymous (10:12) comment that preceded it.

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When I first came to Phuket 31 years ago our bungalow owners patrolled the beach every night armed with a rifle. Piracy was rife and bandits still raided up and down the coast, they said.

When I finally moved here nine years ago, pretty much every farang on the island knew each other and after staying for a few years everyone had mellowed out and adjusted to local conditions.

Over the past 3-4 years I've noticed quite a change in the type of person coming here. You still get the older ones who just want to chill out, play golf all day and blend in with the community, but you are now attracting younger guys who are too hyped up to blend in or adapt to local conditions.

The soccer hooligan element, as I call it. These guys end up in timeshare or the muay thai camps and they just don't settle down. They bring all their emotional baggage with them that longer term expats have left behind or dispensed with soon after their arrival.

This will sooner or later bring them grief. This is becoming evident in some of the stories written recently on Phuketwan.

Phuket will never return to the way it was and that is why most of the people I know from 10-15 years ago have moved to other parts of Thailand or left the country altogether.

I too am looking to move on after half a lifetime relationship with Phuket. But Phuketians are a resourceful bunch (they've had to deal with a lot of change over the last three decades) and they will sort it out in their own way and in their own timeframe. All the doomsayers who say that Phuket is finished this and Phuket is finished that just don't get the place.

For an island that the British tried to steal in the 1800s but was never able to do so, Phuket has done well. Phuket will survive, in a different form for sure, but Phuket will survive because she is far too beautiful not to.

Posted by andyman on August 15, 2010 13:41

Editor Comment:

I am sure you're right. The 'early adapters' came to stay because of what Phuket had to offer and learned how to cast off their Western (or Eastern) habits. The new breed brings its own culture and wants to retain that culture amid what Thailand has to offer. The result is the endangerment of all that was good about adaptation. And only the other day I was told that talk of piracy in the Phuket region was piffle. The 1980s are not ancient history, although sadly Phuket as it was then won't be seen again.

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Dear editor,

There is a difference between an opinion and objectivity. An opinion can never be objective because its painted by that persons beliefs, experiences, education, and social background / social influance. Your comment that my opinion is hardly objective is correct because an opinion never is...

Example:

"A paragraph is very contradictive and suggestive."

Fact thus (objectivity)

"Not much objective journalism that's for sure."

(opinion, but i'm sure people agree with me on the paragraps I quoted previously.)

What are you trying to say by the way in paragraph 14: "Tourist industry" to "holidays on Phuket."? In a 'real' newspaper that would be classified as class discrimination big time.

I'm not saying that you practise bedroom journalism but those two quoted paragraphs in this article are simply not done.

Cheers,

Posted by Richard on August 15, 2010 13:56

Editor Comment:

A News Analysis doesn't set out to be either opinion or to necessarily be objective. It sets out to inform and stimulate discussion and debate. Quibbling over the content is one reaction. I prefer the attitude of others who have responded generously and thoughtfully. Once you stop quibbling, will you also have something of substance to add? (And here's hoping your grandmother is also enjoying her egg-sucking.)

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Hello Angela and Editor.


With regards to the following, which is pasted from your earlier discussion:

"While a wealthy Russian recently paid US$24 million for a villa on a beach just north of Phuket, it's plain that not every visitor who arrives at Phuket airport is so well-heeled - or well-intentioned."

So the writer KNOWS that this Russian earned his money in an honest fashion, that he is well-heeled, and that he has good intentions. All that just because he has money?

Posted by Angela on Saturday August 14, 2010 at 23:54

Editor Comment:

That's not what the paragraph says. We know he is well-heeled. That's all we know. That's all we say.

end quote.

The key word is 'or'. The second part of the editor's last sentence is not a continuation. He is simply saying not all visitors are well intentioned, it does not include any reference to the Russian. If the last part of the sentence was in reference to the Russian, it would have read 'nor', not 'or'.

Maybe it should have been a separate sentence.

There. I hope everyone is happy now. This may seem picky, but we might just as well get it right.

Mark.

Posted by Mark on August 15, 2010 20:50

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Oh dear, just spotted another one.....

'The tattooed man, allegedly the killer, leaves a Phuket 7-Eleven store with knifes'

Can't let that one go. It should be knives.

Well if everyone else is going to be so picky.......

Mark.

Posted by Mark on August 15, 2010 20:53

Editor Comment:

We plead guilty to that one. Actually it turned out to just one knife, so we weren't that far wrong. The pity is that all this picky stuff detracts from serious, thoughtful responses.

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"Actually it turned out to just BE one knife"
Careful, Ed!!

You're making mistakes in your responses to previous mistakes now!!

Posted by another steve on August 16, 2010 09:27

Editor Comment:

Sorry, another steve, I have no idea what you're talking about . . . which I must say is not unusual.

Are you another petty point-scorer?

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maybe a good idea for seven eleven to stop selling knives at midnight in the bar areas??

Posted by jj on August 17, 2010 20:07

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Another Steve,

Foreigners can certainly own the villa, just not the land it sits on. They lease BUT have no "option on renewal" on that 30 year land lease, either.

Anonymous,
" ..prostrations to Mammon.." Finally an intellectual among us.

Posted by Ripley on August 18, 2010 17:51

Editor Comment:

You've been here for a while, Ripley


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