Sunday, August 24, 2008

Maid in Thailand a risky business

Not Quite THE NEWS

Maid in Thailand a risky business

Kaeng som, a sour soup made of tamarind paste and cooked by your new maid may be delicious and impressive. But at the same time, it could also be dangerous for you.

Chief of the Bang Khun Non police station Sarawuth Jitrabieb said Nongnuch Tabthong, 25, was arrested on Tuesday at the Panjamitr Nursing Home on charges of stealing valuables.

The firm is a supplier of maids, babysitters and elderly caretakers to private homes.

The charge was filed by Phetpaya Chotfeung, 61, manager of the firm on Feb 20.

On that day, she hired Mrs Nongnuch and allowed her to spend the night at her house in order to pass her on to a maid seeker the next morning. But the ungrateful maid put weed-killing herbicide into the kaeng som the home owner had cooked for dinner.

That caused the house owner to lose consciousness. After awakening from a deep sleep, Mrs Phetpaya could not find Mrs Nongnuch and her gold necklace and bracelet, altogether weighing five baht.

Pol Col Sarawuth quoted Mrs Nongnuch as admitting later that she had applied for a job at many maid recruitment centres. On June 2, she landed a job as a housekeeper at a condominium in the Ramkhamhaeng area. On the first working day, she used the same treacherous trick and fled with a television set and two mobile phones.

The tactic was re-employed on July 21 when she was employed as a caretaker for an elderly person in Min Buri district, where she stole many valuables, worth up to 152,000 baht, from the house.

However, Mrs Nongnuch finally ran out of luck when the woman returned to Panjamitr again in search of a job and Mrs Phetpaya immediately recognised her and took her to the police.

During the interrogation, Mrs Nongnuch said that she believed no one at Panjamitr would remember her because what she did was many months ago.

She said the reason why she had to do what she did was because her husband had left her and she had two children to take care of in Phichit.

She said a friend had advised her to lace her employers' food with small amounts of herbicide as that would cause them to only lose consciousness and allow her to strip them of their valuables.

Learning curve

You can run but you can't hide.

The warning by boxer Muhammad Ali to his opponents could be applied to the cat-and-mouse game between Yothinburana school executives and the People's Alliance for Democracy.

Last Thursday, school director Manop Noppasirikul announced that all classes would be cancelled on Friday to avoid a planned PAD rally opposing a plan to move the school to another area to make way for the construction of the new parliament. He cited police concern and the closure of many roads in the area, which could cause traffic congestion, as a reason for the cancellation of classes.

Hours later, the PAD countered the school move by changing its mind and decided to stage the rally tomorrow in support of the students and parents unhappy with the school relocation plan.

The PAD suspects the parliament construction project is not transparent as it was approved hastily by the government and could damage the country.

The school has made no announcement that classes would not resume tomorrow.

On the horns of a dilemma

The good old days for buffalo raisers at the Talay Noi wildlife sanctuary in Khuan Khanun district in Phatthalung look to be numbered.

Suthin Kaewgla, owner of almost 50 buffaloes which he inherited from his father 20 years ago, raises and sells the animals.

The earnings have been used to support the family and the education of his children.

The buffaloes are raised in the Klong Na Ream field near the Talay Noi wildlife sanctuary in the southern province.

But now he faces a problem. The grassland has been encroached on by farmers encouraged by the authorities to plant oil palm trees and those wanting to turn the land into rice fields due to the high paddy prices.

"In the past, there were around 2,500 buffaloes in the Talay Noi wetland, but some have now gradually been sold for as little as 6,000 baht. If the government does nothing to help the remaining buffaloes, they will be at risk of extinction like the Pygmy elephant, which was no longer in existence," said Mr Suthin.

Wichit Buadaeng, secretary for the Thai buffaloes conservation club, urged the government to quickly find a way to deal with land encroachers or there will be no place left for farmers to raise their cattle.

Buffaloes have been part of the rural life, attracting visitors to the Talay Noi wildlife sanctuary to see the rich eco-system there, he said, but warned that failing to tackle the problem could mean this will only be a memory in the not-too-distant future.

Permsak Khongkaew, head of the Talay Noi wildlife sanctuary office, said officers in charge are not sitting idly as they had filed lawsuits against the intruders and many cases have been suspended and other officers are continuing the evidence-gathering process to prepare for taking action.

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