Lao Death Sparks Thai Outrage

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Lao Death Sparks Thai Outrage

A car accident involving the death of a young Lao girl is a reminder of class divisions in Thailand.

Roads accidents are unfortunate when they happen, but rarely do they warrant the ear of the prime minister. 

Yet an incident in Thailand involving the death of Kambai Inthilat, a 17-year-old girl from Laos who was visiting her aunt, might do just that.

Ordinary Thais were horrified by her fate. She was cut in half by a speeding Porsche while attempting to cross the road after having lunch at a noodle stall in Pathum Thani.Onlookers made the grisly discovery—the lower half of her body was found on the roadside, while the upper half was found 10 kilometres away. She had crashed through the windscreen and her torso was embedded in the front seat.

The Porsche was abandoned and her death elicited some unfortunate comments from the authorities, who implied that as the girl was from Laos, where they drive on the other side of the road, perhaps she just looked the wrong way—no need to arrest anyone really.

Thais were outraged. The accident dominated social networks and chat rooms, with the general interpretation being that a Porsche must be owned by someone rich and powerful, who the police would rather not upset.

Such are the growing divisions in Thai society these days, as demarcated by the intractable warring between the largely rural Red Shirts and the chattering classes who support the Yellow Shirts.These are divisions that were recently noted by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who will take his country into elections in June or July. He is apparently far from confident of victory, even saying recently that there were no guarantees he would be in office this time next year.

‘Maybe you’ll be wondering if I’ll be here next year. I’m wondering too,’ Abhisit told members of the Foreign Correspondents Club, adding he hoped elections offered voters a choice between his leadership and a ‘cycle of conflict and violence.’

It turns out the Porsche Cayman was driven by Peerapol Thaksinthaweesap, a 19-year-old university student who had borrowed the car from his father, Suppachai Thaksinthaweesap.

Suppachai told police ‘the driver’ would only surrender to police after he attends the Cheng Meng religious festival, where he would pay homage to his ancestors.

Looking thoroughly inappropriate in a black hood and sunglasses, Peerapol eventually admitted to police he was speeding, and he was charged with careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

He was released into his family’s custody and a police officer said the owner of the Porsche was trying to make an arrangement with the family in regards to compensation.

If the family succeeds quickly, then they might ensure that the family of Kambai Inthilat don’t press charges and ensure Peerapol enjoys a much easier legal ride—the type of ride that ordinary Thais would—and should—never get for killing someone.