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  1. PHUKET: The power of modern technology saw a happy ending in less than 24 hours today when a Thai couple who helped a British family 10 years ago after the Asian Tsunami were identified. The Phuket News - Tuesday 15 July 2014, 05:57PM Ben and Emily Willgrass, were in Phuket on holiday with their parents when the tsunami struck on December 26, 2004. Their mother, Louise, was killed by the wave but they and their father were helped by a Phuket couple who took them in and then, because Phuket Airport was shut, drove them to Bangkok. Ben and Emily are planning to return to Phuket on July 20, and wanted to meet the couple to thank them properly. But all they knew were the names "Upin" and "Pitchat". See earlier story here. This afternoon, just 15 hours after Ben first posted on Facebook, asked for help, the Thai couple have been identified as Pichet and Yupin Sengmuang. One of Pichet’s relatives spotted one of the many reports on the internet and called Khao Sod newspaper, which promptly ran a story online. Ms Yupin, the newspaper said, is from Nakhon Sawan while Mr Pichet is from Phattalung. Some 10 years before the tsunami they moved to Phuket to open a food and grocery store at Trai Trang Beach. Ms Yupin told the newspaper that after the tsunami, they met the Willgrasses, who were searching for the mother, Louise. They fed them and bedded Ben and Emily down and looked after them while the children’s father continued to search for Louise. He later discovered that she had died in the Ocean Shopping Mall in Patong. The couple said they took care of the children, trying to encourage them and explaining about the situation. Since Phuket Airport had a problem, the family were unable to fly out, so Mrs Yupin and her husband drove them from Phuket to Bangkok. Mrs Yupin said that she was glad to know that the children – now grown up – would be coming to see her on July 20. She added that she and her husband helped them because they felt very sorry for them and she wanted to do her best to help them. She said that she would never forget the day. The couple are now, sadly, divorced. Mr Pichet moved back to Phattalung, but Ms Yupin is still in Phuket. This afternoon Ms Yupin could not immediately be reached by The Phuket News, but Mr Pichet told us, "I missed them and I am so glad they are coming back to see me. I really appreciate it. Ten years ago they were just children. I have no idea what they will be like now. But please tell them that Thailand welcomes them back. "I will probably travel up to Phuket to meet them – they probably won't know how to find their way to Phattalung." The Phuket News contacted Ben Willgrass with the news, and with phone numbers for the former couple. Ben replied, “It has been a mad 24 hours for us, but thank you for your message. “We never expected quite the response we have received, but it just shows once again how amazing the Thai people are. I will be in contact in the near future to talk more. Told what Pichet had said, "I'm really happy to hear that, if you speak to him again tell him we are both very excited to see him." http://www.thephuket...found-47359.php http://www.dailynews...อังà¸à¸¤à¸©à¸£à¸­à¸”สึนามิ
  2. Australian journalist Alan Morison says he's prepared for prison over Thai navy row December 30, 2013 - Lindsay Murdoch - South-East Asia correspondent for Fairfax Media Australian journalist Alan Morison and his colleague Chutima Sidasathian both charged with defamation in Thailand. Bangkok: Australian journalist Alan Morison has declared he is prepared to go to jail to defend media freedom in Thailand where defamation laws are being increasingly used to silence criticism. ‘‘This is a clear issue of freedom of media and the military exceeding its role in using an onerous law unjustly,’’ says Morison, 66, who edits and publishes Phuketwan, a small but popular news website on the resort island of Phuket. A defamation lawsuit launched by Thailand’s navy against Mr Morison and his colleague Chutima Sidasathian on Christmas Eve is one of about 1600 defamation cases that were initiated in the south-east Asian country in 2013, many of them by powerful interests. Court records show that of the defamation cases that proceed to trial in Thailand an average of 96 per cent lead to convictions, one of the world’s highest rates for the crime. Advertisement Mr Morison and Ms Chutima could face a maximum five years’ jail and fines if convicted under the Computer Crimes Act. If convicted on criminal defamation charges they could be jailed for up to two years. The navy’s unprecedented action has prompted criticism from the United Nations, human rights groups, non-government organisations and media outlets and unions both in Thailand and other countries. The charges relate to a story published in Phuketwan in July 2013 that quoted a Reuters news agency investigation alleging that some members of the Thai military were involved in networks smuggling Muslim Rohingya boat people from Myanmar. No action has yet been filed against Reuters, a multinational company, although the navy has said charges against two of its reporters are expected to be laid shortly. Phuketwan has closely followed the plight of the Rohingya who have been described by the UN as among the world’s most persecuted people. Mr Morison says he and Ms Chutima have discussed the possibility of going to jail on the principle of media freedom in what would be a David-and-Goliath fight against the navy which has 70,000 active personnel. ‘‘These are trumped up charges. There is an important principle at stake,’’ he says. ‘‘The Rohingya have no spokesperson, no leader, but through Phuketwan’s ongoing coverage the torment of these people continues to be revealed.’’ Mr Morison, a former senior Age editor, sold his apartment in Melbourne and set-up Phuketwan, which provides local and foreign news coverage for Phuket where an average 20,000 Australians holiday each month. If Mr Morison is jailed he would be one of the first editors to be incarcerated in the country since the Bangkok Post’s Michael Gorman was jailed for three months over defamation proceedings in the early 1980s. ‘‘The Thai navy’s lawsuit is a reckless attempt to curtail journalists’ reporting on alleged human trafficking by its officers,’’ says Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. ‘‘Unless the government withdraws the case, its impact will be felt far beyond those reporting on abuses against the Rohingya – and could have a choking effect on all investigative reporting in Thailand,’’ Mr Adams says. David Streckfuss, an American academic who is an expert on Thai laws, told a recent forum at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand that use of defamation laws ‘‘have become a kind of way of controlling political discourse in Thailand’’. Andrew Drummond, a British investigative reporter in Thailand, said up to 30 foreigners have fled the country following threats of defamation that would involve years of litigation in the courts and thousands of dollars in bail payments. Many of them had been swindled by criminals making the threats, he said. Mr Morison and Ms Chutima, a respected Thai journalist, have formally denied the charges that could take years to be heard in Thai courts. http://www.smh.com.a...1230-hv75m.html (30/12/13)
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