Friday, February 3, 2012

Mayor of Wat Pradu killed

The Office of Provincial Election Commission of Suratthani had recently posted the local election calendar for this year - or to be more exact the dates when the terms of the local governments end, as the actual election date within 60 days after that day will be set only few weeks before the election. I could find several cases where I had the previous election date wrong in my XML because that news article where I found them must have been wrong; also notice that Ko Samui will see new municipal elections this autumn, so if there'd be any upgrade to a special administrative area now would be the best time, or wait another four years.

Former municipality office of Wat Pradu,
now a police station
But a small note within that table hides a news story not covered at all in the English press. It says "นายกฯเสียชีวิต 4 ม.ค. 55" - Mayor passed away January 4 2012. But it was a violent death, as Thongchai Phrikkaeo (นายธงชัย พริกแก้ว) he was shot while attending a funeral. If I am not misreading the news article I found, the assassin was caught already, but I haven't found anything yet with speculation on the reason for the killing. I wouldn't be surprised if it were around lucrative projects initiated by the municipality going to the wrong contractor...

It's not that political murder is unheard of in Thailand - quite the contrary - the scary thing is that this one happened in the municipality right next to where I am often during my vacations. And even though he was a municipality mayor, the case wasn't big enough to be covered in the English language press, the only similar cases I read about there are either those in the unruly provinces of the deep south, or when it is close to Bangkok or related with national elections, e.g. the killing of the PAO Chairman of Nakhon Sawan last summer.

I am currently reading the book "The better angels of our nature" by Stephen Pinker - very recommended despite having 700 pages - in which the author argues that the violence level has gone down significantly all over the world, and links this (among others) to the fact that more and more countries have stable, democratic governments with well-working law enforcement. Though I have no statistics on the homicides in Thailand, given news like this the country still has a long way to go - cannot recall any recent political murder in the West.

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