Monday, May 17, 2010

Thai Braveheart Assassinated At Triple Overpass

Sometimes, it is all about location, location, location. Read the news more deeply, everyday.

Khattiya Sawasdipol (Thai: ขัตติยะ สวัสดิผล; RTGS: Khattiya Sawatdiphon; born: June 2, 1951, assassination shooting: May 13, 2010; died: May 17, 2010), alias Seh Daeng (Thai: เสธ.แดง; RTGS: Se Daeng; English: Red Commander), was a major general in the Royal Thai Army, assigned to the Internal Security Operations Command.

The U.K.'s Mirror published the above photo, taken moments after the shooting.

Khattiya Sawasdipol was shot in the head (apparently by a sniper) on May 13, 2010, while being interviewed by The New York Times reporter Thomas Fuller while standing at the Sala Daeng Sky Train station, which is literally a triple overpass, near a famed monument.

Khattiya had previously claimed he had helped the United States spy on North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and to have taken part in the CIA-financed "Secret War" against the communists in the Plain of Jars, in Laos. Khattiya disguised himself as a Muslim in order to infiltrate rebel groups in Aceh Indonesia.

He called* himself "Braveheart," after Mel Gibson.

He had written several bestsellers in the Thai language about his adventures in a series called Khom...Seh Daeng (คม...เสธ.แดง). Khattiya frequently appeared on television talk shows and had a cult of followers, achieving celebrity status throughout Southeast Asia.

Khattiya made news on October 18, 2008, by announcing "he would mobilize government supporters against any military attempt to seize political power." Khattiya said members of the pro-government Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship (DAAD) would use petrol bombs against tanks and military vehicles taking part in a coup attempt.

Khattiya was reassigned as an aerobics teacher by Gen. Anupong Paochinda, Thai Army commander. Khattiya responded by saying, "The army chief wants me to be a presenter leading aerobics dancers. I have prepared one dance. It's called the 'throwing-a-hand-grenade' dance."

On 14 January 2010, Army Commander Anupong Paochinda ordered a suspension of Khattiya Sawasdipol after an inquiry committee found that Khattiya has supported the DAAD, a political pressure group that called for elections, breaching official disciplines.The following day, Anupong's office in the Royal Thai Army Headquarters was bombed by rockets launched by a M79 rocket launcher, left the office demolished but no one injured. In this event, Khattiya was described by BBC as a "renegade Thai general who backs anti-government protesters." A backer and part of the protesters' more radical wing, he had accused red-shirt leaders - many of whom have distanced themselves from him - of not being hardline enough.

Khattiya Sawasdipol was shot in the head, apparently by a sniper, at the intersection of the Sala Daeng Sky Train station, in the evening of May 13, 2010. Critically wounded, he was admitted to Huachiew hospital. On May 16, 2010, he suffered renal failure and underwent dialysis. Khattiya Sawasdipol's death was announced on May 17, 2010 at 9:20 am (local time).

The site is also the location of the double life-size monument to King Rama VI. The King Rama VI Monument stands at the gate to the Lumpini Park, overlooking the busy Saladaeng junction. Corrado Feroci, an Italian sculptor completed the monument with the help of four Thai artists on June 7, 1941 and it was inaugurated on March 27, 1942. The King Rama VI Monument is a statute of King Vajiravudh standing in his ceremonial uniform with a sword, on a high pedestal flanked by fountains. An open tiled area where public ceremonies are held surrounds the monument.

King Vajiravudh (188-1925) succeeded King Chulalongkorn ruling as King Rama VI (1910-1925). He had received his education in England at Oxford University and Sandhurst Military Academy. In the early years of his reign he was hindered by the ministers he had inherited, many of whom were actually King Chulalongkorn’s children and although promoting the notion of nation through the slogan “nation, religion, king,” he actually ruled in an authoritarian manner. To back up his authority Vajiravudh created a paramilitary force called the Wild Tigers (เสือป่า). In 1912 members of the regular army felt undermined by the position held by the Wild Tigers and plotted a coup against the monarchy. Although stopped in its infancy this was something new to Siam but has since become a phenomenon that has plagued the country right up to present times (including the recent uprising).

As further background information, the following extract is info about the location where Khattiya's assassination occurred, via Travelfish:

Sala Daeng station is number S2 on the Silom line, two stops away from Siam, the main interchange station. It lies above Silom road, close to the intersection of Rama IV. Simply put, Thanon Silom is one of the liveliest, busiest and most interesting areas in the whole city. Something for every taste can be found here - pirated music and movies, great restaurants, crowded clubs, sleazy sex shows and more. During the day, it's a pretty active area but it really comes alive at night. The sidewalks are crowded with stalls selling all manner of merchandise, the smell of food keeps changing every few seconds and people, motorcycles and cars all vie for their piece of real estate.

This station is also one of three that connect to the subway. The subway station here is named Silom.

If you're coming during the day, a perfect escape from the noise and pollution on the street is to leave via exit number 4 and walk north until you hit Lumphini park. This oasis in the middle of the city isn't as big or as nice as Central Park in New York, but it's got its heart in the right place. Expansive green areas, playgrounds for the kids, biking/walking/running paths, boating and frequent outdoor concerts and shows serve to make this a perfect place to enjoy the sun without the risk of being hit by a motorcycle.

If you're coming at night (Lumphini Park is closed when the sun goes down) or simply want to dive right into the action, a good place to start is through exit number 3 on the north-west corner of the station. From here, you can start walking south down the west side of Thanon Silom. You'll immediately notice a glut of American super-chains - Burger King, Haagen Dazs, McDonalds, Starbucks etc....

If you cross the street to the east side of Thanon Silom, you'll find yourself at CP Tower. Inside there's a McDonald's as well as Bookazine, a well stocked bookstore that stays open until 11pm. Walking north back towards the skytrain you'll pass Liberty Square which houses the multi-story California Wow fitness club which is also open late and packed with hip people who don't go to the McDonald's.

Liberty Square is on the corner of soi Convent, a major soi off of Thanon Silom. The area inside this soi has some of the best street food around and it's well worth a wander around to sample the offerings. Within the first 150m you can also find a Starbucks, several bakeries and restaurants and the Irish X-Change, a nice pub.

Signing autographs, in happier days.

From Times online, here is part of an earlier report (filed on May 13, 2010) on his shooting.

Thailand’s Braveheart, Major-General Khattiya Sawasdipol, injured in riots

He compares* himself to Mel Gibson’s Braveheart but he is more like a Thai version of Andy McNab. Major-General Khattiya Sawasdipol is one of the most colourful but mysterious figures in the crisis, a living example of the contradictions that make it so difficult to resolve or understand.

Even before the confrontation he was a celebrity thanks to bestselling books describing his exploits as commando and undercover operative. By his account, “Commander Red” had an heroic career, supporting the US in Vietnam and infiltrating Muslim rebels in Indonesia.

He is also a passionate supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a military coup in 2006. When demonstrations broke out, General Khattiya’s eccentricity shifted into insubordination. While still a serving officer he promised that he would take up arms against any of his colleagues who attempted another coup.

The commander of the Army responded by appointing him an army aerobics instructor. “Everybody laughed at me,” he recalled. “You don’t assign a warrior like me to do a stupid thing like that.” He warned his commander: “I have prepared one dance. It’s called the throwing-a-hand-grenade dance.”

*"Do you know the Braveheart movie? Mel Gibson is the same as me." ~ Seh Daeng


Unknown said...

Sleazy sex shows?
Darts, sleazy? No let's not go there!!

A good article Loren.

Thai Language School said...

He is really impressive, especially writing the best-seller books in Thai language. It looks like he has gotten lots of achievements through his experiences in life.