'Gestapo-style' Raid Demolishes Sukhumvit Square
Original "Flash Report" of destruction of Sukhumvit Square follows immediately :
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
OR *CLICK* and go directly to :-
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Bangkok, 26 January 2003
* All photos courtesy Margarita Station, Angeles City, www.theville.com *
The raiding military types were divided into several visibly identifiable groups, "Team A", "Team B", etc., each having a specific function. The first team's job was to take command of Sukhumvit Road on both sides of the center divide in front of Sukhumvit Square and Clinton Plaza for the purpose of traffic control. They insured that no passing vehicles lingered or attempted to stop to witness the ongoing assault on their fellow citizens' personal property.
The second team cordoned off the area while yet another team began putting in place 2 meter high prefabricated wall sections, which were concrete based with steel top panels. They quickly erected a solid wall around the entire Sukhumvit Square night entertainment area. The wall was later topped off with two strands of barbed wire and reinforced with a network of steel re-bar. Several pre-printed signs were posted on the newly erected wall by the marauders; some of which read, " Support The Policy of Social Order of the Ministry of the Interior". Other signs absolutely forbade entry into the compound, while yet other signs threatened that no responsibility would be accepted for whatever might happen to those going inside.
By the time the sun came up, there was nothing left standing; it looked like a Kansas tornado had demolished the area; the hastily erected "Gulag Wall" was apparently intended to hide the shame and the eyesore of this unprecedented assault on Thai citizens' personal property. The police efforts to disallow any photographs of the catastrophic wreckage lends strong support to this.
It appears the 60 lounge and bar owners, and the dozen or more other shops have no recourse to reclaiming either their property or making a claim for the value of their property. Some shop owners lost over 2 million baht in physical assets and goods. They had received no prior warning of the raid, either from their landlords or the unnamed organization in charge of the demolition.
The Lumpini police 'took over' from the paramilitary-type teams sometime after sun-up, and were still maintaining the inner perimeter at night fall. At about 22:00 hours, another group of police showed up and briefly confronted the Lumpini police within, but were turned away without gaining access to the compound. In the process, a Thai journalist and a foreign journalist with a reputable foreign wire service was physically menaced and ordered to leave the area by the newly visiting police personnel.
Bangkokeyes.com will bring you the full report at the end of the month, with a discussion on the historical impact of this 'gestapo-like' action, and how it may impact on other Night Entertainment Areas in Bangkok.
*Click* and go to FULL TEXT of Court Order
Unknown 'Dark Forces' Level Sukhumvit Square
29 January 2003 -
The Bangkok Eyes follow-up report will only briefly summarize recent news events regarding the revelations of which groups / individuals were directly responsible. The emphasis below will provide new information and clarifications given in earlier reports, and will present questions which we have been asked by third parties who had leased facilities within the Sukhumvit Square compound just prior to its demolition.
This headline uses the term "dark forces" and refers to the Thai Prime Minister Taksin's references to local Mafia forces' involvement (reference also Bangkok Eyes ' Midnite Hour archives of 09 June 2002 titled: Sukhumvit Square 'Explosion'). The current view on the inter-relationships between the involved companies is: Tisco PLC took over the property on mortgage default from a 3rd party and leased it to BTR Holdings, who in turn leased parcels out to the approximately 100 'shopowners'. Later, Tisco PLC sold the lease to Silver Star Co (also reported as "Sukhumvit Silver Stars Co") for 496 million baht, however BTR Holdings continued to collect rent from the 'shopowners'. This caused Silver Star Co to be unable to utilize the land, so they "leased it out" to Nickel Co . It is thought by police and others that this "lease out" to Nickel Co was actually only a "contract" to get rid of both BTR Holdings and the 'shopowners'. Nickel , however, was also collecting rent from the 'shopowners'- the same 'shopowners' that were still paying BTR Holdings.
Subsequently, 5 senior Army officers were implicated in the Sukhumvit Square raid. One, a Lt. Col. Himalai, admits his guard company, General Guard Co . (later reported as Ideal Service Corp) was contracted by Nickel Co "to send security guards to Sukhumvit Square" on the night in question, but that they got there after the carnage. As profoundly ridiculous as this may sound (dumber even than 'The dog ate my homework."), indeed, this may be the case; please read further...
Taking into consideration the recent (Monday) posting of a Court Order on the wall at Sukhumvit Square from the South Bangkok Court dated 27 Jan 03 (the day after the destruction) where the Defendant, BRT Holdings Ltd. has received an injunction against the Plaintiff, Tisco Investment PLC which prevents them from entering the Sukhumvit Square property, etc, it would seem that Tisco is still very much playing the part of the owner despite their claim they sold it to Silver Star Co. In that the court has accepted this petition from the Plaintiff, it would appear that this constitutes, at a minimum, tacit agreement that the two parties are currently legitimately involved. So which is it gonna be, gang?
The larger mystery, the one that, apparently, no one really wants to address is who were the people that actually came into the compound and looted and pillaged? There are several factors that no one seems to be looking at.
First, a multi-million baht wall was prefabricated well in advance of the raid. Which construction company did this fabrication? This is not the type of work a "guard company" or an "investment company" does. Or was it the military civil works detachments?
Secondly, a large convoy of trucks (according to eyewitness reports to Bangkok Eyes ) converged on Sukhumvit Square at about 04:00 hours. A VERY large convoy - carrying the several hundred large, heavy 2-meter high concrete and steel wall sections. Other trucks carried spotlighting tower stands, welding sets and the generators to run these. Yet other trucks brought in the vehicles originally reported to be backhoes, but were in fact concrete breakers which look like a backhoe with a giant metal 'toothpick' at the working end. Witnesses said they used the breakers in a downward smashing movement. Vehicles were used to transport the welding crews who were outfitted in navy blue coveralls and yellow safety helmets. Other vehicles, mostly pickup trucks with cabs on the back (rot krabat) conveyed the military type personnel that ran the show. The previously reported "military style" clothing was revealed by several witnesses to be "safari suits". The question being asked of us is whether the police knew of the movement of this large convoy? What about permits to move heavy equipment through the Bangkok streets? (Yes, permits are required by BMA).
Thirdly, Sukhumvit Road was commandeered by the 'invasion force'. Later information received from eyewitness accounts reveals they blocked off 2 of the 3 lanes on each side of Sukhumvit Road, and (as earlier reported) prevented passing vehicles from stopping in or near Sukhumvit Square . This also requires permission from BMA. Did they have permission, or did they break additional local laws in commandeering one of Thailand's major arteries? If they had permission, lets get it all out on the table.
Bangkok Eyes has been informed that international wire services asked both Thonglor and Lumpini police stations on the 26th Jan, why they took no immediate action, and were told that they knew nothing of the raid at the time it was ongoing. But, in that there were about 20 to 30 eye-witnesses either on the ground or looking out their balconies (best estimate of other eye-witnesses), then why did no one call the Lumpini police? The answer will surprise you; Again, according to eye-witnesses, the Lumpini police were called SEVERAL TIMES by more than one individual between 04:15 hrs and 05:30 hrs. (These witnesses, by the way, were disinterested parties, ie, they did not have any financial interest in, or friends or relatives involved in Sukhumvit Square .)
Bangkok Eyes has been queried as to its earlier references to "looting", when the newspapers were reporting only wanton destruction of property. In subsequent interviews through 28 January, eye-witnesses said again that the men in "safari suits" were seen carrying away many items and placing them in their pickup trucks. One eye-witness relates seeing one of the shopowners confront one of the men carrying away his television (may have been a monitor), and the thief told the owner that if he were able to produce ownership documents, he would return it. (This last unconfirmed by second witness.) The Court Order posted on the wall at several points around Sukhumvit Square also refers to property "carried away".
Bangkok Eyes has been queried as to its earlier reference to "the police 'took over' from the paramilitary-type teams". Bangkok Eyes further queried witnesses, who, each of them, stated that the original teams of safari-suited squads had departed, along with the welders and heavy equipment operators prior to the police showing up. On the departure of the safari-suited gentlemen, they were replaced by other teams whose mission appeared to be to secure the area from trespassers. (It would be interesting to know if these, the arrested personnel, are in fact LT COL Himalai's "General Guard Co." employees.) The invading squads left generators and lights running for the use of the replacement teams. On eventual arrival of the police, none of the paramilitary-types were on the premises. Bangkok Eyes therefore corrects its earlier assessment : the police apparently arrested those 'security guards' sent in to maintain compound security after the actual military-type marauders had departed. Bangkok Eyes resists surmised conclusions by others that these approximately 130 personnel were sent in as scapegoats. The impression that the police 'took over' from the invaders was easily assumed, in that their departure was orderly, and the police who occupied the compound on their departure continued to use the generator and light sets and the metal framed awning facilities. and did not attempt to shut things down and secure this property as evidence, as might perhaps be expected of them.
Bangkok Eyes has ben queried as to its reference to, "...another group of police showed up and briefly confronted the Lumpini police within..." We have had two reliable first-hand accounts confirming this, That's what happened.
Both the original 'Flash Report" and the follow-up report were prepared by W R Morledge based on corroborated eye-witness accounts, unless otherwise stated. These accounts and the questions asked of us are passed on to you at face value, and without conclusions.
Bangkok Eyes has received two other interesting questions: If no one knows who was responsible for putting the wall up, and no one claims it belongs to them, why hasn't it been torn down? Also, if a crew of men can install more than 200 meters of a two-meter-high concrete and steel wall in less than an hour and a half, is there any chance they can be hired to build the Nong Ngu Hao Airport?