Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thailand terrorised

Thailand terrorised

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Guns are set up in a window display at the Ratchasima Gun Shop, located near the Terminal 21 shopping mall where a mass shooting took place in the northeastern Thai city of Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, on Monday. AFP

Thailand terrorised

Thailand has been terrorised, albeit not in the conventional sense. The country bears witness to the deadliest mass shooting, one that has led to the deaths of no fewer than 30 people in a supermarket on Sunday.

While such killings are now almost integral to America, the extreme form of mental aberration as manifest in an individual’s relentless shooting spree has convulsed the nation that had emerged some months ago from almost chronic political instability.

No political or terrorist underpinning was a factor in the death of 30 people during the peak hour weekend shopping period. If Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s version of the mayhem is any indication, the rampage stemmed from an individual’s land dispute. As it turns out, it is the innocents who have fallen to a military renegade’s bullets, recalling the depredations of hardcore terrorists.

The gunman was said to be carrying weapons stolen from a military base. True, he was gunned down by the mall’s security network, but the military gear that he wore was the giveaway to his identity – Sergeant Major Jakrapanth Thomma.

In a nation where mass shootings are rare, Sunday’s bloody strife is bound to prompt deeper questions about the near total lack of security in the mall, the behaviour of a renegade soldier, the government’s response, the nature of the land dispute and the resultant depression that provoked the aggrieved to gun down 30 innocent shoppers.

Officials of the administration merely iterate the obvious when they contend that the “assassin simply went mad”. Perhaps he was a victim of what they call temporary insanity. That madness, it is now more than obvious, has found expression in calculated malevolence. Even if the gunman was enraged over a land dispute over the sale of a house, the conflict, without killing as many innocents as he did, could well have been resolved without mortal violence.

The assassin has been driven quicker to death than to the land and the house in course of the counter-mobilisation by the forces, led by Major-General Jirapob Purideth. The death of the shoppers, wholly unconnected with the root of the aberration, has heightened the enormity of the tragedy. Hours before the shooting, it is notable that Jakrapanth had denounced the “greedy” in a Facebook account.

“Rich from cheating. Taking advantage of other people. Do they think they can spend the money in hell? Death is inevitable for everyone.” It really is, with or without intimations of mortality. The sheer suddenness of the deaths in Thailand on Sunday has well and truly convulsed the nation, indeed prompting the Prime Minister and the military to intervene. But it will be foolish for authorities to conclude there wasn’t much they could have done in the face of one who went over the edge.

While the soldier had access to a weapon, so too do many Thai civilians as part of a culture of gun ownership that sees the country record twice the proportion of gun-related deaths annually than does the US. One in 10 Thais owns a registered weapon, many others acquire firearms from the black market. It is this culture of violence that the government in Bangkok must address.



  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

    Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida. “To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this