The Dark Side of Thailand’s Island Paradise

Introduction:

So I wrote this post back in 2014, not really expecting anything to come of it, since then it’s been viewed over 100,000 times, shared at least 9,000 times on Facebook, and parts have been translated into a few languages.  It’s even been quoted or used as the source material for articles and documentaries in Time, The Independent, Channel 4 and more. I’ve also been the target of a smear campaign from various islanders and ex friends who are not particularly happy regarding what I’ve written, even received the odd threat.  The post could do with a bit of a clean up as it is easily the most viewed post on mikeestravels.com.  Of course, due to this post there is no change I could ever safely return to Koh Tao, but it’s a small price to pay considering the absolute travesty of justice that is two Burmese migrants being put to death for a crime that they likely did not do, because the Thai Prime Minister claimed that “no Thai could ever do this”. Heck – someone even published a book in 2015 called “How Not to Get Murdered in Thailand” which touches on this, and other similar cases throughout Thailand.
A little background – I lived on Koh Tao for approximately 6 months in 2013, living in Sairee and Chalok Ban Kao.  I spent most of my time DJing in a few of the bars in the island and got to see first hand the corruption of the local police and families who controlled the place. I saw what happened when bar owners took too much drugs, when there were disputes over turf between the firedancers, or when threats were made over popular club nights. Later I moved to Koh Phangan, where I made a stupid decision to get involved with a hostel project, put a bit of my money into it, and lost it all. Once again I got to see the corruption of the local police, immigration, farang and mafia that exists in the gulf of Thailand. Luckily I knew when to leave, and was able to relocate to Bangkok for a good 6 months before moving to New Zealand and eventually the United States. Since this article was published there have been at least 5 more suspicious deaths on the island that I know of and in typical Thai fashion they were labeled suicides or “natural causes”. Had they of been in Bangkok they would have probably been dubbed members of the notorious “Bangkok Flying Club” (where foreign expats in Bangkok or Pattaya “jump” to their deaths, usually after a Thai love interest has been named a beneficiary in a will involving significant property, or insurance coverage).
Shame to the westerners who live on the island and have continued to support the family in question, those who have helped to cover up what has happened. You now have the blood of these two unfortunate workers on your hands. I hope that the lifestyle is worth it. 

Background to this article:

The recent murders in Koh Tao of two young backpackers have attracted a lot of unwanted attention to the dark side of Thailand, including “mafiastyle families (known as Chao Pho “เจ้าพ่อ” in Thai) operating in the Gulf of Thailand on islands such as Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and Koh Samui.

Chao pho or jao poh literally means “godfather.” Chao pho are mostly of Han ethnicity based in the provinces who have business interests in both legitimate and criminal activities. Moreover, they have groups of associates and followers, move closely with powerful bureaucrats, policemen and military figures, sit in positions in local administration, and play a key role in parliamentary elections. Chao pho mostly come from a Hanethnic background.According to Thai authorities, there are chao pho groups in 39 of Thailand’s 76 provinces. From these provinces they work like a local mafia as they are active in both illegal as well as some legitimate businesses. They are involved in a wide range of criminal activities such as prostitution, drug trafficking, illegal gambling and others They are known for cooperating with the Red Wa ( who are associated with the United Wa State Army) for the trafficking and sale of narcotics.

Source: Wikipedia “Chao Pho“


Great places to stay at HomeAway
Having lived approximately a year between the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, I’ve got some insights (but can’t claim to know everything) about how things operate – which should give more of a picture to what is currently going on than what foreign journalists are portraying.  As with anything in Thailand, things are much, much more complex than they appear at first.

A Bit of Koh Tao History

For most of it’s history Koh Tao looked nothing like it did today. It was likely a stopping off point for Malay fishermen for centuries, due largely to its isolated position in the Gulf of Thailand. In the 1800s, there would have been a couple of small villages, while later on in the 1890’s King Chulalongkorn visited the island – which is marked with a monument on Sairee beach.  The island remained a quiet place for decades, with a few fishing families and farmers and not much else.
After the Siamese Revolution of 1932, the country moved from being an absolute monarchy to a constitutional democracy (of sorts).  Koh Tao was used as a political prison in a similar way to Koh Tarutao in the South. In 1947, the prisoner inhabitants were given a Royal pardon and shipped off out of exile to the neighboring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. The island was once again abandoned.

The legend then goes that two brothers from Koh Phangan sailed to Koh Tao and settled on the land that is now considered Sairee beach. They farmed and fished and lead a fairly simple lifestyle occasionally trading with those on Koh Phangan.

The Vietnam war came about, which created a tourism boom in Thailand during the 1960s and 1970s for American GIs on R&R. Early backpackers began to explore the Islands in the gulf of Thailand, with dive trips originating from Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. The first full moon party being held on Phangan in the late 1980s. Gradually tourism began to increase on the Islands, and the island began to become more and more developed. First with a few simple shops and dive huts, then resorts, and later bars and other non diving related business. Larger ferry companies such as Lomprayah, Seatran and Songserm began to serve the island with overnight buses originating from Bangkok to fill the many spots on a growing dive industry. The island developed its two main areas of Sairee beach (which is now full of nightclubs, resorts and dive shops) and the sleepier “local” side of Chalok Ban Kao as well as the busy port of Mae Haad.

Power Structures on the Island

As with virtually any other town, village or island there is a patronage style system that those in the west would consider “mafia like”. However due to Koh Tao’s isolation and history this becomes more complex.  (Technically these go all the way from the lowliest street vendor, through mafia and local government, all the way up to the military and eventually Royalty –
Spend any time living on the island or speak to long termers under normal circumstances and they will speak of the “five families” that inhabit the island. Three of these key families inhabit and control the main Sairee beach, while the other two have more power on the Chalok side of the Island.

These families are the descendents of the original settler families that arrived on the island between the 1940s and 1980s, prior to the advent of dive tourism. Although they do not own land (all land on the island is technically owned by the King via the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources) they do have a form of squatters rights that allows them to extract rent and develop businesses on their patch. A very small land rent is then payable to the crown for every “rai” (a Thai measurement of land) that they possess.

These families control or have an interest in virtually every business on the island in some way, shape or form. This can either be in the form of direct ownership, partnership, as a landlord or major supplier. No business on the island, whether Thai or Farang exists without some form of interaction of patronage or involvement from these key families. The families areas are fairly clearly demarcated around property boundaries. What might be appropriate behavior in one area of the beach, would not be acceptable behavior in another. A long termer may have “protection” in one bar, but would never contemplate entering another due to relationships (business, friendship or otherwise) with someone connected to another. These families, in typical Thai fashion, tend to be incredibly jealous of each other, and highly competitive for every tourist dollar. There are many stories on the islands of what happens when one family perceives another family to have wronged them in one way or another and it generally involves petty rivalries over cash.

The other power source on the island is the Royal Thai Police who operate out of a building behind the school and temple on the Mae Haad end of Sairee beach. To describe them as law enforcement is generous, as they are merely another form of mafia style organisation on the island (a 6th family if you will). Their police work generally consists of driving around the island on their scooters, collecting their weekly extortion money from local businesses before spending it on booze and other entertainment. It’s worth noting that police purchase their postings in Thailand, it costs money to be the top police officer in a Tourist area, because to Thais – being the local sheriff in town is a business opportunity. Ask locals what the going rate is to be head of police in Phuket, Samui, Pattaya or any other area with a large potential revenue stream of bribes from strung up tourists.

“If there really is a mafia, locals and police detectives would have informed me already,” Pol.Gen. Somyot.

Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer 2007, a survey assessing the public’s perceptions and experience of corruption in 60 countries, states that, for Thailand, the police received a rating of four out of five, where one represents “not at all corrupt” and five represents “extremely corrupt”– Wikipedia

Drugs on the Island

Drugs are prevalent on Koh Tao and easier to get. As with everything on the island there is a police of family involvement.  In my time there, I saw people on a wide variety of substances, including cannabis, LSD, Ya Ba ( literally “crazy drug” in Thai, a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine) and surprisingly cocaine. Cocaine was being consumed by many of the Thai Bar owners on Sairee beach while I was there during low season, and resulted in unpredictable behaviour – extreme highs, and extreme lows, which could potentially turn dangerous at a moments notice.
Long term locals all know the situation with drugs on the island, either consuming or turning a blind eye. When the police start to run low on cash, checkpoints will be set up on the road to Ao Leuk and the entrance to North Sairee village. This is where fresh foreigners will be caught with small amounts of cannabis, or urine tests will sometimes be taken for substances.  The police intention is not to catch and charge foreigners for drug possession, but to use the threat of criminal sanction as leverage in order to extort cash off them.
When the amount is too large to cover up, criminal charges may be laid, but generally the person charged will get out on bail and a local lawyer will arrange a generous fine in order to get the person off the charges.  Everyone involved takes their cut. In my time on the island I’ve personally witnessed a Thai businessman threatening to plant drugs under the seat of the motorbike due to a perceived insult from a farang, before calling the police.

Motorbike Rental Extortion

The biggest scam on the island (as with the other islands in the Gulf) involves the rental of motorbikes to tourists. All of the motorbike rental companies require a passport as collateral and use a standard rental agreement that is common on Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Requiring a passport for collateral is illegal in Thailand, and for many nationals it is also illegal for them to provide. That said most tourists still do this, naive to how everything works. Bikes that are returned with any damage, no matter how small result in massive costs for the renter.  A scratched piece of plastic that costs no more than 300 baht, will be charged anywhere from 3,000-10,000 baht.  Excessive consumption of booze, poor quality roads, crazy taxi drivers and lack of lighting at night result in more than a fair share of motorbike accidents. Tourists are often eager to leave after a crash, and don’t want to miss their ferry – leaving all of the power with the rental company to extort whatever they like for a damaged bike. Those who argue with a rental company risk physical violence, and there have been multiple reports of on tripadvisor of firearms being pulled on those who argue with the rental company.

Koh Tao continues to rent out dangerous four wheel ATVs to inexperienced riders, a practise that has been banned on the other gulf islands due to the sheer number of accidents. None of these bikes are insured (even those that advertise insurance) and riders who do not carry an international drivers licence, with a motorbike endorsement along with specific cover for motorbike riding are not covered. As with any other islands, police involvement may result in a slight decrease in the compensation for any motorbike accident, but the police officer will need to take his cut.

Violent Crime & Strange Deaths on the Island

Generally speaking the island is very safe.  Part of the reason for this, is ironically enough that local strongmen and families keep the peace. There is only one main way in and out of the Island, and if you put a foot wrong you will be made to leave.  By the same token, there is little theft because of the small size and difficulty of removing valuable items. There have however been a few incidents that I know of in the recent history of the island.

  • Burmese migrant workers have been murdered and burnt with tires similar to “necklacing” incidents in South Africa.
  • The bodies of Burmese migrant workers have been found by divers at sea after being shot on fishing boats in the gulf and washing near shore.
  • A bar owner was shot dead in in Star Bar on Sairee beach, in public on a busy night in front of multiple witnesses over a business dispute. During the time I lived on Koh Tao that re opened and renamed under new management (I even worked there as a DJ).  It has since closed and been demolished.  No one was ever arrested for the shooting, and I was told by long termers living on the Island that the alleged shooter operates a bar on the other side of the island in Auw Leuk.
  • Around 2002, one of the most powerful business people on the island – Virat Asavachin, and brother of the operator of Ban’s Diving School – which is the biggest dive school in the world was school is shot dead in the middle of Sairee after a dispute with families. This is allegedly in or around the same shop that Scot, Sean McAnna was in when hiding from the two Thai men over the weekend. Again, no one was ever arrested for the shooting, though many locals claim to know who did it. Apparently the body was still in a freezer waiting to be cremated 6 years later.
    The story was covered by the Bangkok Post, but is no longer available online, but has been reposted on diving message boards:
    “TAO chief killed by masked man
Shot in daylight, talking to friendsA local administrative organisation chief and business tycoon was shot dead by a masked gunman on Tao island early yesterday morning. Virat Asavachin, 42, chairman of Tambon Koh Tao Administrative Association, was shot while talking with three friends near Ree beach. A lone gunman, his face covered with a woollen mask, walked up to the group and fired six shots at Mr Virat, police said. One of the bullets entered his left ear. The gunman then walked calmly away towards the main road, witnesses told police. The dead man’s wife, Ramluek, 29, and tambon organisation officials were questioned yesterday as police investigators looked for a motive. The investigators suspected the attack arose from either a business conflict or a dispute over work in the tambon. The victim owned Ban’s Diving, a 100-million-baht diving business and the largest dive shop on the resort island. He recently began a ferry boat business serving the Chumphon-Koh Tao route.
  • A taxi driver stabbed another taxi driver in Mae Haad after he “stole” a customer from him in broad daylight. No one was ever arrested. Taxis on Koh Tao are also operated by two mafia families – there are no motorcycle taxis allowed and the lack of competition results in extortionately expensive taxi fares. Due to this they will not drive passengers to certain areas on the island that are the other families “turf”.
  • There are also numerous stories of bars being burned down by jealous brothers, or even landlords.  I personally know someone who had a party shut down at gunpoint by jealous competitors and former business partners who were stuck with an empty bar. Business owners have been made to leave the island at gunpoint by the close of business (I also know of this happening in Koh Phangan, and personally know people who have had this happen after running up debts).
  • There are many stories of Thai on Thai crime, generally this involving shootings between men who have fooled around with others wives. This tends to happen away from the resort areas, one such case was near the local council buildings in the interior of the island.
  • The attempted rape and throat slashing of a foreign bar managers wife, which went unreported.
  • Dimitri Povse was found hanging from his Sairee village property balcony, with his hands tied behind his back.  This death was ruled a suicide by the Koh Tao police.
  • On New Years day in 2014, Nick Pearson was found dead on the Island. I didn’t realise it at the time of initially writing the article, but I was staying on the island at the time with my wife and father in law, and a friend of mine was initially called to the police station to try and attempt to identify the body. Nick’s brother also has many mutual friends with me in Bangkok, and was a regular at the same backpackers hostel I met my wife.
  • In January 2015 Christina Annesley died in Koh Tao, on a property linked to one of the key families on the island.  This death was ruled to be of natural causes due to mixing alcohol and antibiotics, but there was no toxicology report.
  • In January 2017, Luke Millar was found dead in a swimming pool on Sairee beach.
  • In February 2017 Valentina Novozhyonova went missing from her hostel in Koh Tao.  She is still missing, presumed dead.
  • In April 2017 Elise Dallemange was reportedly found dead near Tanote Bay.  So far this has only been reported by the rather dubious Samui Times, and the article is full of errors, though it alleges that she was due to leave the island via Chumphorn, and while her luggage made it to the mainland, she did not. Instead her half eaten (by animals) corpse was found wrapped in t shirts by the police.  The parents were told that she hung herself, which makes no sense.  There is very little information about this case, so I’m waiting to see it reported in more legitimate media before I take it seriously.

I must stress that just because someone dies under strange circumstances does not mean it is immediately suspicious. I’ve recently (June 2017) had a friend die on a neighbouring island, and from first hand experience I can attest that not all the information gets out, and some times that’s in a well meaning attempt to protect the family from the activities that their kids got up to while overseas, especially if drugs or alcohol were involved – there isn’t always fire where there is smoke, and correlation does not equal causation.

In the Context of the Recent Murders

In the first few days after the murders a very complex and every changing story emerged from the Island.

  1. A pair of British tourist’s were brutally murdered on the beach front in front of a bar owned by a local Poo Yai (big man on the island) using tools that belong to either a Thai business or migrant labourers.
  2. Local police were quoted as saying that a Thai could never do something like this (even though there are thousands of Thais in jail for doing similar things to each other), and proceeded to attempt to pin the blame on everyone from the victims best friends, migrant burmese labourers and more.
  3. Police officers start posting images of the victims on their personal Facebook accounts, people who are IDed as potential suspects later on are photographed walking all over and contaminating the crime scene.
  4. The media leaks sensitive information, and starts to paint a picture blaming the friend of the victim, claiming he is his gay lover and completely defaming him. Police apparently plant bloodied shorts in his bag.
  5. The Prime Minister then stepped in, proceeding to blame the victim of the murder for being pretty and wearing a bikini, even though the murder was at night and photos of video the victim show her fully clothed prior to the incident.
  6. A long termer on the island (Scott McAnna) who is also a friend of the male victim accuses local family members of being involved with the murder (he does not directly accuse them of it) and threatening to hang him, and use him as a scapegoat. He posts this on social media, and attempts to get it far and wide, with posts along the lines of if he is found dead tonight, these are the guys who did it.The Thais involved openly admit they “had words” with Sean, confirming that he was at least threatened, but because they are “Poo Yai” and mates with the cops, they are allowed to walk – without taking a DNA test.
  7. The police continue their ludicrous investigation including reenacting the scene in the middle of the night, measuring the footprints of Burmese women and taking urine tests from Burmese males.
  8. Various things would have happened behind the scenes, and eventually those fingered by the foreigner are brought into the police station for an interview, and refuse DNA tests.
  9. Relatives of those accused by Sean of threatening to kill him do a runner up to Bangkok. Thai media name them as suspects while local police claim they are not, and merely at University. This is after the island was supposed to have been sealed off.
  10. Posts pop up on various Facebook groups urging foreigners not to comment to the media, or speak to any outsiders until approval is given by key people on the island.  Comments are deleted or self censored.  There is an appearance of a wall of silence, either for personal safety, or to protect business interests. It is at around this time that I posted the original blog post, and a locals, including former friends start a smear campaign against myself and this blog, including all sorts of insane accusations against me. It is at this stage that I had to remove a few blog posts that named friends still on the island, as they did not want to be linked to me for their own safety until they left.
  11. Various sock puppet accounts appear on online message boards such as Thaivisa.com attempting to derail commentary on the incident and the character assassination of the only witness begins.
  12. It turns out that the witness has a very shady past of his own back in Europe, this is reported in Scottish newspapers.
  13. Family are cleared due to DNA tests that are processed in record time (bare in mind that it takes 3 hours to get off Koh Tao by boat, and up to 9 hours to drive to Bangkok – where the main forensic labs would be, otherwise its a 3 hour boat ride to Koh Samui, then a 1 hour plane to Bangkok. This is before even factoring in the time it would take to actually process the tests). DNA Tests in a first world country generally take anywhere from 24-48 hours, and thats not even taking into account the chain of custody of samples each way. There is some concern as to whether Thailand even is capable of testing to international standards (this is an old source, circa 2007):
“Currently, neither of the 6 forensic DNA laboratories in Bangkok is accredited for forensic DNA analysis by international accreditation bodies nor ISO17025:2005. However, out of the 6 DNA laboratories, one laboratory is ISO 15189:2003 accredited and one is ISO 9001:2000 accredited for the management system. All of the 6 laboratories are equipped with essential instruments sufficient for carrying out forensic DNA analysis, though a need to balance the capacity of major instruments to reach it’s full capacity. To strengthen the competency of staffs, special training regarding forensic issues must be provided. All 6 laboratories have positive attitude towards standards and accreditation as prerequisite to carry out forensic case work. Over 66.67% of the DNA laboratories aim for being ISO17025:2005 accredited within 3 years. However, in order to process for the accreditation, the main organization must have a clear supporting policy. An external auditor may be appointed as a part of the auditing team to provide a broader view to the laboratory, as well as demonstrating clarity of the quality assurance process. In the beginning of this year, 2007, the Bureau of Laboratory Quality Standards, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand has launched an accreditation program based on ISO/IEC 17025:2005 for forensic science laboratories. This is would help support Thai forensic laboratories to meet the quality and international standards in the very near future.”
  14. Family head man offers 1 million baht (about $40,000 NZD) to the police if a member of his family is guilty.  This screams either blood money, that he knows who did it, or that its a thinly veiled threat against any local who might name a family member.
  15. Police stop considering Head man’s son as a suspect as he has a dubious “alibi” in Bangkok, yet no DNA tests are taken. It is unclear whether there is a second son on the run, due to the poor quality of Thai and Foreign of media reporting. The person in charge of the Forensics institute in Thailand is none other than Pornthip Rojanasusnan, the same person who defended the fraudulent GT-2000 bomb detectors, which had no working parts. She even suggested using these fake bomb detectors to find corpses that were rumoured to be held in shipping containers off the Thai coast in 2009.  In 2010 she was quoted as saying: “I do not feel embarrassed if the bomb detector is proven ineffective. Personally, I have never handled the device myself. But my people have used it and it is accurate every time. Long long time ago, people believed that the Earth is flat and anyone who said otherwise faced execution. Things which are not visible does not necessarily mean they do not exist.”
  16. A Thai Taxi driver says he is arrested by the local police who then offer him 700,000 baht to give false evidence.  He is beaten when he does not comply. He states that the knows nothing about the incident. The headman (whose family was earlier implicated by Sean McAnna as making threats on his life) urges the police not to use violence with the police or arrest a scapegoat.
  17. The Tourism Authority of Thailand visit Koh Tao, and the Minister of Tourism suggest solutions such as wristbands with tourists ID details and tracking devices for tourists, as well as a local “buddy system” and safe areas. This is received with widespread ridicule worldwide, as such a system would do absolutely nothing to prevent violent crime against tourists, but would make a considerable amount of money for whoever is involved in the production of said devices and wristbands.
  18. The eventual court case, along with the appeal finds the pair of Burmese suspects (whom many believe to be scapegoats) guilty of murder and sentences them to death.

At this stage its not clear exactly what happened, though generally speaking, when there is smoke – there is fire. I have no idea what happened on that night, as I’m on the other side of the world.  Based on past experiences on the island – I do have strong suspicions that the local families and police have actively tried to derail the investigation, attempted to cover it up and that had social media not attracted international attention on the case, that a Burmese scapegoat would have been found.  The police almost admit this  in a newspaper article: “Please have confidence in our work, there will be no scapegoats” and  “The case is being watched closely, watched worldwide and we are working hard to make this case as airtight as possible”

I personally believe Sean McAnna when he says he was threatened by the local Thais. I’ve read various claims on Thaivisa.com that the threats were too direct and in colliqual english that would not be used by a Thai.  Koh Tao is not like other areas in Thailand – the locals have the best command of English out of anywhere I’ve been.  His chequered past would have made him an easy patsy, but then again so would many long term residents on the Island whom the local police are probably keeping tabs on. The police were building a story about guitar players, about foreigners and that Thai’s couldn’t possibly be involved.

I think had Sean not made his outburst that he probably would have ended up either dead, or blamed for the whole situation. I have absolutely zero faith in the Thai justice system or any island police officers ability to do their job.

I’m saddened by the wall of silence from the Koh Tao expat community, but I can also understand why. Many have had brushes with the law in the past, mostly to do with drug use – and the police always hold this as ammunition for use in the future. Many others have business interests but incorrect Visas or nominee shareholdings in their business or property ownership. They could lose their entire investments and lifestyle that they have become accustomed to simply for speaking out. Some could get deported for overstay, fined for employing illegal immigrants or arrested for working without a work permit.

There was even a book “How Not to get Murdered in Thailand” released in the aftermath of this and other recent murders in Thailand.

Something about the whole story still doesn’t make sense though. I simply cannot understand why someone from one of these powerful families would actually get involved in this mess and do something so brutal.  Somewhere these facts don’t add up. Thai males are known to get violent at a moments notice – but this is when “face” comes into play.  They don’t (especially well connected business owners, even ones descended from squatters) just rape and murder two tourists when their entire industry depends on them. I very much doubt that the person (or people) who did this will actually be punished. I think someone will be arrested, and will have a confession beaten out of them by Thai police. Due to the international attention, local cops cannot risk the loss of face by not “solving” this tragic crime.  It is unlikely however that justice will be done

There will likely be a short term drop in tourist numbers to the rock, but backpackers generally don’t pay attention to these sort of things, many tend to think they are invincible or will never happen to them, and by next season – things will be back to “normal”.
geckos

Is Koh Tao Safe for tourists?

Here’s the thing – I don’t think Koh Tao is any more dangerous now than it ever was.  The simple fact is that most places in Thailand can be dangerous if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.  As with anywhere in Thailand, tourists should use caution while having fun, and always be careful around Thai males when drugs, alcohol and women are involved.  I think that for the average tourist, if you behave well, it will be safe – things do get more dangerous the longer you stay, especially if you are working or starting your own business, essentially any situation where you can appear to be a source of money, or potential victim of extortion. I’ve been in a few very dangerous situations myself, but looking back – I should have seen the warning signs and I could have avoided them.

There is something bad going on in terms of a cover up regarding crime in Thailand against foriegners, especially what happened in Koh Tao.  If something happens to you, chances are there will be no justice, but this is the same anywhere in the country.  This doesn’t mean that you should not visit Thailand, nor does it mean that you should not visit Koh Tao, but you should do it with your eyes open and aware of the risks, as with visiting any other foreign country.  What happened was a very rare occurrence, but its not unprecedented on the islands, where suspicious deaths are often reported as being by “natural causes” or “suicide”(Just ask any expat how you join the Bangkok Flying Club). Personally I won’t return to Thailand for a very long time, more so due to the political situation there (I’d probably get arrested at the border due to whom I’m friends with on Facebook, but thats an entirely different matter), and I definitely won’t return to the gulf, as this article has ruffled some feathers and I have been threatened because of it.  For the average person however – this should not stop them from enjoying a trip to Koh Tao or any of the other islands in the area.

Spend some time reading up on culture and history of the country.  Learn the language, and use common sense and generally speaking you’ll still have a safe and fun time in the country.

145 Responses
  1. Really interesting and informative take on the island and events. You’re right in saying the facts don’t add up with this case, compounded by the bumbling attempts at investigation and the typical desire to pin everything on the Burmese.

    • Hi there. Article is right. I was there four years ago. Thus what I heard. The same thing. Run by five or six families. Noone really speaks about the issues.
      My friend out diving..dive boat diverted whilst they were under water. Went to pick up a burmese who had been taken out to sea wih some others and dumped. He only survived. Illegal immigrant so who will look for them. Cheaper to get rid off than pay for labour. I spoke to someone re calling amnesty international. They said forget it. Also heard about mr. Bans. He opposed the development of some power line. Whilst there. I ended up accidentally being wrangled in a fight started by a thai and aussie late one evening in sairee. Aussie headbutted thai. Our group was walking away when a thai girl came running up to us and told us to leg it. We did. Next day I went to see thai guy as he worked in a bar adjacent to a rather large dive shop in chalok. He kept asking me where the aussie lived. I spoke to his european manager explained it was him who started the fight. Managet just said you had better tell your friend to leace the island. Next day someone told me they had come after us with guns that evening.
      Then.. there was the time someone got head in the head along the same strip of bars in question. The person was shot by a policeman. Then there was the white women who dissappeared because she went mad after falling in love with a thai. And the list goes on.

    • To john n. You cannot be serious with your head in the sand comment. Its quite simple. You can choose to live in paradise and ignore what goes on or choose to comment about your experiences and in particular the mal treatment of innocent burmese. There is no island newspaper and you only hear about things if someone tells you or experience it directly. The burmese being dumped at sea.. my friend told me. The policeman shooting that fellow in the head.. news came via local shop girl. Mr. Bans is common knowledge. The girl who went mad and dissappeared.. someone else told me.. the bar that got burnt down…an owner of restaurant told me after I enquired what it was like to own a business as a foreigner. .. and the thai attacking one of the group I was out with one evening is my direct experience. Clearly it must be because I (and others you have commented)” simply attract trouble” like the two people that were murdered recently. !!! Lol. I think for far too long people living there have just accepted its the way things are until something like this gets out and the media attention is suddenly there. Its also the people operating these laws.. and it happens on all of the islands.. its island life and easy to getcsucked into the smallness of it all… think you are above the law that you own the place and therefore, excuse the pun, can get away with murder.

      • No American who is insulated in the US and has never left the safety net of our country, could ever understand how true this article is. You have to live in a third world country and have a brush with the *CRAZY* unjust judicial system in order to understand how surreal everything becomes. When I was a child living in Southeast Asia, two white female tourists were gang raped when they agreed to meet some “nice” young local men on a beach for a walk at night. The women insisted on going to court and testifying against these men. The local judicial system continued to perpetuate the crime against them by conducting what was a sham trial meant to celebrate the local men’s “victory” over the “conquest” of these two Australian women, purely for the entertainment of all the local men. The courthouse was filled to the brim with a male-only audience who snickered and laughed for weeks afterward in the local bars. None of the men involved in the rape were truly punished. They were put in jail overnight for one night, where they were toasted and celebrated. It was a party. The whole town was talking about it. The young women were told it was their own fault for going alone to the beach with young men at night, which they should have known was “asking” for it. The young ladies stayed at our house because we were the only expats in town. They were there for six weeks during the mock trial process. It was horrific, the emotional trauma they experienced and the dastardly process that ensued. There was nothing just about it. –One of my worst childhood memories, when I realized there was no justice for the innocent. You don’t have to look for trouble there. Trouble comes to you.

    • What a surprise that two burmese have been arrested with confessions with no desire to access a lawyer. I could have predicted that two weeks ago. And a comment by top official to say now our country can return to tourism. There should be an independent investigation by British Police.

  2. Spot on article and should be required reading for the fantasists and navel gazers that pretend Thailand is safe.

    • To be honest, Thailand is “safe” in that with all the craziness order is somehow preserved. I felt safer in 18 months in Thailand than I did walking down the mission in San Francisco surrounded by crackheads on the way to a gig.

      And thats after spending months surrounded by southern paramilitaries protesting democracy, and having armed gunmen occupying my house in Koh Phangan while the local mafia bikers from Yala moved in next door.

      But, its also not the “Land of Smiles” filled with friendly folks either. Its varying shades of grey.

      • I 100 PERCENT agree with you mike. I lived in Thailand and have walked down the mission and can honestly say i felt way safer in Thailand. That is something I priide thailand on is how I feel way safer there than in the US…

  3. “They don’t (especially well connected business owners, even ones descended from squatters) just rape and murder two tourists when their entire industry depends on them.” One of the most highly-decorated kops (also a restaurant owner) did roughly the same thing for roughly the same reason in 2004 in Kanchanaburi in front of witnesses, so why not one of the Koh Tao local man-boys?

    • Everyone in the world believes 2 locals did it.Remember the two young russian women shot dead on the beach in pattaya about 6 years ago? They arrested an old Thai guy. The only thing for certain was that he didnt do the crime.

  4. This is an excellent article, and answers many questions I have. The plethora of articles and BS have had me really confused. However, I disagree with one thing, that a powerful business owner/crimelord would never have gotten involved in the crime. Alcohol and ya ba cause strange behaviors. But also, I read one account (not verified) that the victims had some sort of verbal disagreement with one or more thais in the bar they had been drinking in right before the murders. We all know how thais can become explosively violent when their precious “face” is threatened.

    • Yes, I understood one or more Thai’s were either molesting her or generally harassing her (depending on the report) in the AC Bar, and the British guy put a stop to it. That would have been more than enough to send many Thai’s, especially a powerful one, off the rails.
      The reports are so confusing it is ridiculous, it is still unclear if any members of this family have given DNA samples or not. If they have, then I trust it was done by people from outside the island. If not then it needs to be done again, in public.
      Great article, a wonderful assessment of island life, this is pretty much how every town, city or village works in Thailand and one of the main reasons the country is not progressing as it could.
      I feel so sorry for the families of the victims, I fear the only hope of real justice is if the military step in, but that is not looking promising after the good General’s appalling remarks about bikini’s.

  5. I am Thai and I agree with everything in this article. This is exactly how the country works and it is rotten to the core. The RTP need to be completely reformed but can’t see it happening in my lifetime.

  6. I’ve been living on Phuket for a while and only ever visited Koh Tao on holiday, but this island is shit scary. A gun was drawn on me and my girlfriend by a Internetshop owner as we left after an attempt to use their computers, which was impossible due to the machines not working properly. I also came across (just to add to your list of drugs) quite a high usage of Opium by a number of people.

  7. Best article I have read on this. I have been in Thailand 20 years and anyone thinking it’s safe is a fool. If the killers have connections and money they will never go to court, and even if they did never to prison,

  8. Hi Mike, I am a fellow Kiwi, have lived in 4 regions of Thailand Now in Chiang Mai

    Congratulations and thank you on a well balanced summary of the tragedy and the background.

  9. I think the word “sometimes”, “occasionally” and a few other similar words need to be inserted into the article. And the nonsense deleted. Then it would be good

  10. If you are not yet a professional journalist, you should be. This is an unusually clear, well-organized and articulate presentation of the story to date.
    Well done.

    I think this horrible event happened at a difficult time for Prayuth and he really wasn’t ready for the challenge. As someone living in Thailand who can only hope (not with great optimism, though) that the anti-corruption reforms attempted by the new government will take hold, I see this as an opportunity for Prayuth and his backers to hammer the inept and corrupt cops as a decisive step on the way to bringing about actual rule of law in this country.

    How do you see this situation affecting the ongoing changes taking place in Thailand these days?

    • I don’t see the Junta doing anything positive. They came into power on the back of the protests that were supported mainly by the rich in Bangkok and their rent a thug mob from Surat Thani.

      To go into more detail would be another blog post.

      • Omg.. what do you know about the situation here.. Dont simply talk like you know everything Mr. MikeE.
        Most of Thais are so happy that the military stood up..
        Open ur eyes and look around.. The country never been this peaceful for years. Thats why the coup need to do something..
        Im pretty sure this current PM doing a good job.

      • Hi MIkeE. Would you like to further elaborate on your statement? Maybe go a bit further and explain the reasoning for the coup…maybe explain how all parties for a long period of time could not come to any understanding…how everything was at a standstill…how continued protesting were occurring (non-violent of course, but still)… Do you recall Prayuth giving the parties a deadline to get things in order and to come to an agreement? Do you also recall Prayuth making a statement after he held all parties and took over…He stated that he would accept full responsibility for his actions. I can go on, but all in all, I think this is what Thailand needed and he does seem to be jumping on lagging issues with the intent to resolute immediately and has approved items that were held up by both parties in the past that would benefit Thailand. I strongly believe that he must put corruption on the Police force and in government his top priority, which I see him going in that direction, but there are too many things that need to occur in Thailand and everything will take time, but I do believe corruption will be one of his main focal points…especially after the Koh Tao murders.

    • Hardly an example of the writing style of professional journalism. Rather it’s some thing of a rehash of s”ame old, same old” and also demonstrates a poor regard for the use of apostrophes, as in “A pair of British tourist’s (sic)” and “For most of it’s (sic) history Koh Tao looked nothing like it did today.” Yawn.

      • That would be why this is a Travel blog and not a newspaper. It was not my intention for this to go viral, but it did. I’m not employing a copy editor to check for incorrect use of apostrophes, please feel free to point out actual factual inaccuracies, and I will attempt to verify and update accordingly.

        Otherwise your argument is about the same level as those who suggest that Sean’s accusations couldn’t be taken seriously on Thaivisa due to the fact that there were pictures of him fooling around in a deep freeze.

      • If you do not understand what Mike was trying to express Septimus you should not join in. I have a qualification in languages and I can understand perfectly what Mike and our fellow posters are trying to say. The English language is never perfect ( go to Glasgow) but we all manage to understand each other luckily.

  11. As this happened in my country.. I truly feel so sad. I just can’t understand how could anyone did such a horrible things to them..
    I also wish, hope and pray that the police will really do the job and catch the one who really did that into justice.
    My heart is hurt when saw the victims’s photos.
    I still keep follow up and wish that the news will show something about getting closer to the murder.
    RIP mr.dave and ms.hannah

  12. Rev Johnny Horton Reply

    Thailand we talk about(PHUKET,SAMUI,KOHPANGHAN,KOTAO) is the land of corruption,the land of smile only when you pay,the land where even after 20 years you’ve lived there you remain a generic farang.They are racist,they dont like you,they want your money period. They dont care if you have an accident in front of them,maybe if they are two they will bet if you die or not before the ambulance arrives.Good place to be a generic tourist,tourist dont know much dont see much dont talk much. Quality tourist,thats what they like ,rich & obtuse.
    They dont know nothing about your culture except football players & exchange rates.Mostly of the ones that live on those islands never read a book,have no clue of any kind of art ,coudnt see the difference between Warhol & Leonardo.
    The only Leonardos they ever heard about are a football player & an Actor just because he made a film in Thailand.
    They believe in three things: Money ,Buddah & the King.
    Now we talk about mafia.How could someone be surprised ? Everybody knows from the late seventies that Samui is owned by three or four families, they own ko panghan & koh Tao too.
    I’m not urprised of what is happening & is gonna be worst.just wait.

  13. Thanks for sharing your interesting views on this horrific topic, you seem to know extremely well how things work (or not work) in the land of fake smiles. Very well written and very informative, too bad nobody acts on these truths. Because I believe that if tourists and travel agencies would boycott this island instantly and thoroughly, immense loss of income combined with rivalry amongst those families might result in the kilers being given up. Cheers, mate!

  14. Interesting read although I have to say the man claiming to have been threatened etc. doesn’t seem like somebody you want to base your case on. Of course he would be the perfect patsy and so such a conspiracy makes sense but extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof right?

  15. I live on the island and this is a pretty good take on things. That being said yo7 are very wrong about businesses having to have links to one of the 5 families. I can name plenty that don’t. You also paint the long term Farang as drug abusers and runaways. Maybe you where hanging with the wrong crowd as most of the 1000 or so here are fully legal, some are raising families and most are good people with little to fear. The silence, however comes from knowing plenty of the local Thais are batshit crazy and the police are ineffective so there is no protection in a conflict. If the police were stonger and not infiltrated by local families, you would see more people comment or be involved when corruption, crime or intimidation take hold.

    Edit: Tim – I edited your comment to fix up the typing.

  16. Very well written article. Living on Koh Phangan 7 or so years ago was a blast, though now when I look back I realize how easily shit could have turned into a nightmare situation. Kids headed to those islands should be made well aware of how carefully thay need to trode to avoid sketchy people and places. Where a silly drunken mistake can end your life, or land you in Bang Kwan.

  17. Interesting blog, but don’t let your readers for one minute think that this situation is unique to Koh Tao, or to the holiday islands. This is the situation everywhere in Thailand and it has been getting worse for the last ten years. If you have money, you pay local politicians and the police and you can basically get away with anything. There are “mafia”, local “gangsters”, or as they are euphemistically known in the press here “influential people”, everywhere and with a police force that is basically corrupt through and through, anything goes. People complain about the courts here, but that isn’t the problem. It’s the police who will do anything fr money to stop some cases getting to the courts in the first place. Politicians have been unable, or unwilling to do anything about it, and have even encouraged it when it suits their purposes. This is one of the areas the military is trying to clean up after their coup, starting with Pattaya and Phuket. It’s a big country though, and it will take them a long time to clean it all up. You may see their attention drawn to Koh Tao soon I imagine. Then it will be goodbye, influence of influential people, at least until normal service is resumed after the military relaxes its grip. No one in the west likes a military coup and the curtailment of some rights, but’s a little ironic that everyone is so critical of the coup, but are only now realising what the situation in Thailand really is. The military are the only ones who can clear this nonsense up. Oh, and Thailand is safe, as safe as anywhere when you know how to behave. Oh, oh, the PM was right about dressing properly. No Thai women would wear a bikini on a beach, let alone off the beach. If they do, they will be perceived as prostitutes. Listen to what Thais say if you come to Thailand. Wear a bikini on the beach by all means, but cover up when you leave the beach. Most of the Thai population are poor and not well educated, most Thai males spend a lot of money getting drunk. Incidents are bound to happen when they see something they don’t normally see. And let’s face it, if you wouldn’t wear a bikini in a western city centre, don’t wear one off the beach in Thailand. It’s a cultural thing.

  18. Very well balanced article mate. There are too many things that don’t add up (holes in stories, motives, etc) but you’ve thoughtfully looked at both sides, without making the focus on the poor victims or their families, but more as a warning to somewhat of a “Reality Check” before going there. The best way to stay out of trouble in a foreign country is to try and understand how it operates, and play by those rules (even if those making the rules are “mafia”). I’ve been in Thailand 3 years now, and although I haven’t had to experience anything of this dire a situation, you still have to keep your wits about you. Many thanks for writing this!

  19. Govert van Eerde Reply

    Thank you very much for this extensive piece on Koh Tao. We arrived two days after the crime and now we are on Ko Phangan. Your article makes us more aware and more cautious, thank you! Looking forward to your next blog post!

  20. Only way to increase the chances of a resolution to this mess would be to coordinate a complete boycott of the tourism in the island, until case is resolved.This would provide a massive financial incentive. Today the reward is a ridiculous 700k, a full boycott will make the truth worth hundreds of millions of baht a week. Mike, Given the traction this article is gaining I think you should consider to promote such approach.

  21. Chirayhoot Doitong Reply

    I think all Farangs should leave, and those thinking of coming, don’t, you’re not welcome.
    We have enough with the Asian tourist, Farangs are not important, go away.

    • Even though I think your IQ is low that you don’t even deserve to be considered, I can’t hold this quite back: Thailand has and will always profit from the West. Even though the asian investment in the local economy has gained a huge momentum, the western money still plays a big role. Historically you guys only started to have real infrastructure cause you profited from western technology. thailand’s economy and tourism would not be where it is now without the westerners coming here. Unfortuantely there are ungrateful little bastards like you who are too ignorant or stupid to acknowledge that.
      But please, next time when you use your i-phone, consider that you wouldnt have that without “farangs”. In fact you would not have much at all without the western inventions. So go back to your cave and wait for the chinese tourists to come and visityou there. And when they arrive do not expect them to be friendly or to tip you for gods sake.

    • if foreign tourists (falang) stop coming to Thailand , it will produce an enormous ripple effect on the Thai economy. The foreign investment is down a considerable amount this year already, I believe it is down 7%… Do you remember 1997? Seriously, the last thing Thailand needs now is for the Thai baht to crash, and it will if it has a bad reputation. The Chinese economy is now in question and if it fails, good luck for Thais…

  22. Great article, i ve been living in Thailand for 9 years and lacal mafias are everywhere, in Bangkok too. Islands are scary, just avoid them or be an “oblivious” short time tourist. Regarding the coup, some comments still defend the undefendable, yes it was a paid mob by some very wealthy families who are interested in a different succession than the prince becoming king, so they need the army in place when the old man dies, not to have an elected parliament approve of the prince s sacre. the situation will get very bad in about a year and a half when the democratic forces from the east and north have organized themselves again, with the financial help of Thaksin Shinawat. then we may experience the unthinkable.

    • Bernard, I think you have said what so many others have been afraid to say. It is all about the succession of the King…. The fear of what will happen once he has passed is something very serious to ponder. It is no secret that most Thais do not support the Prince, and the vacuum that will exist after the King has passed is not something to be underestimated… As much as I hate to see Thailand under military rule, I do fear the consequences of a destabilized Thailand after the King has passed.

  23. A good article Mike,
    I have spent a while on Koh Tao and if you get friendly with any locals you will find out how it all works. The families truly do run the island and if you end up on the bad side of one of these guys, it’s not a safe place to be. Thai’s are for the most part friendly and pleasant, but once you introduce money, drugs and the all important ‘face’ things can become different as they protect their pride.
    Most backpackers/travellers would never even know what goes on behind the scenes unless you stick around for a while. Cops set up stings for weed all the time, they know exactly who sells and grows it on the island and catch a few farangs every once in a while and put the fear of god in them with ‘life in prison’ and extort whatever cash they can get.. What was interesting one time while I was there was when the King’s niece visited..
    Most of the restaurants were shut down, all the Burmese were in hiding, the island was a completely different place. Once she left, back open for business. I love the island, but what happened those people is sad and even worse that they will most likely never catch the actual killer if it was a connected associate. Their friend was blessed to get away and not end up with a suicide scenario death..
    I love Thailand, but it is Thailand, not the UK or USA. They have there own laws, corruption (on every level) and customs. Never forget that if you plan to visit.

    • Yes, I’ve been there when the Royalty have visited as well. Totally different world, more cops everywhere, half of Sairee shut down… Foreign workers off the bars etc.

  24. Having
    Iced in Thailand for almost ten years I can totally agree with and empathise with the article. You can literally get away with. Under in Thailand of you have cash and connections. It’s easy to get wrapped up in dream of the land of smiles, however there is and extremely dark side to Thailand as well. For personal reasons I had to leave in the end but it seems the more tourists and money come to the islands the more corrupt and rotten they become. I feel,so lucky to have been there at a time when the Thais were truly Thai now they are all about the baht and of you can understand and speak the Thai language you very quickly realise they they don’t particularly like us but see us ‘farangs’ as a definitive means to an end……..

  25. I am a long term resident on Koh Tao and feel that articles like this continue to damage the islands reputation beyond repair. I am raising a child here and can honestly say that I continue to feel completely safe here. I am not connected to any “mafia” organisations and I am so angry that the staff at AC Bar continually have their names dragged through the mud, they have all been investigated and DNA tested. The police have cleared AC Bar and staff through their investigation. The only link that business has with the case is that the victims were drinking there that night. Please stop persecuting innocent people. We have to live here, we have to make our living and provide for our families. We can’t and won’t turn our backs on a community that has been our home for years. Sean McAnna has been proven to be a liar and a fantasist. What hasn’t been mentioned in the press is how he managed to get himself banned from the majority of the bars and clubs on the island last time he was here. He has caused irreversible damage with his ridiculous allegations and has angered no only the Thai locals but the ex-pat community who all see him for the unstable and unbalanced individual he is.

    • To Koh taolin,

      Various websites around Thailand are now showing links to Mike’s article. Based on a wide range of comments it is the near unanimous opinion that his article represents balanced reporting.

      For those that know Thailand well from many perspectives, what Mike has described is what it is to be in Thailand.

      To say that certain folk have been cleared by the police is simply mischievous, you are obviously referring to the Royal Thai Police and maybe you are yet to have dealings with this organisation. Therefore it must be explained to you that the Royal Thai Police is not the Canadian Mounties or Scotland Yard or anything like a police force in any state outside Thailand. For example when a drugged up Ferrari driver in BKK killed a policeman using his Ferrari as a weapon he was immediately cleared by other police who knew his daddy and his Daddy is very very rich. During the last 2.5 years there have been attempts to re visit this case but so far there has been no progress.

      That you have decided to bring up a child down there is your decision. All I can say to that is that when my Asian children were 6 and 7 years old we took them to a western country where they have remained in safety and with a very good education through to western university graduation. Education alone would be enough to cause me to suggest you may be making a mistake.

    • AC bar owner and his son, and the chief, the brother, have not all been DNA tested. They all refused to give DNA. The Son does not have any alibi or witinesses to any alibi either and he was not in Bangkok at school as has been proven by his tutor. McAnna may have been a character, but he was threatened for a reason, and many believe he was there that night and saw who did it and got slashed before running away before they could get him and he went into hiding as he stated. That is why they were after him the minute they saw him again heading to the pier to leave, but again he managed to run and get out a scream to social media beforehand which raised attention and the police had no option but to help him as the message went viral straight to the British Embassy. That is the only reason he got off that Island alive. He has since disappeared and his facebook and all other has been shut down. His wound also matches that of the murder victim almost identical.

  26. I have read your article. It pretty much sums up things here. Koh Tao is an amazing place to a tourist when everything goes right, but stay there long enough and talk to people who have stayed there longer, you’ll soon discover that there is a very very ugly and criminal underbelly to this paradise island. I have visited koh tao a few times as a tourist and eventually I moved there for about a year. It is just a sad sickening feeling when you realise what’s really going on and how things work behind the scenes. It has lost its innocence and beauty. Soo sad considering what it used to be.

  27. Interesting read….clearly written.
    Undoubtedly true.
    But this happens anywhere in the world.
    Where there’s weak policing and absence of law.
    Like an invite for corruption and criminality.
    And worse….
    Starts with corrupt politicians and just works it’s way down.
    It’s sad.

  28. It is quite interesting to note that 99% of tourists who encounter problems in thailand are either, piss drunk, stoned or dont know how to rein in their tongues. As a tourist try to keep a clear head…have a good time but dont tempt fate by doing stupid stuff as obama would say.

    Always remember that as a tourist you are mostly dealing with thais that work in the sleaze/hotel/ tourist related industries….and these do not involve the cream of thai civilisation, it’s quite the opposite in fact….theyre largely uneducated village folks with not much intelligence. Act accordingly around them.

    • I agree with you on this point. There is a way to behave in different countries and around different cultures. Loud pissed up and drugged off their heads tourists are not doing anyone any favours. However, bad behaviour is not an excuse to murder a couple of young tourists – despite what occurred beforehand. That punishment doesn’t fit any crime.

  29. When I read these articles about the dark side of Thailand The places loose the magic of going there…. Ignorance is bliss when wandering around a beautiful island. I hate the shit that scum bags seem to have to do to each other!

  30. Excellent article Mike. This should be the lynchpin behind a drive to halt tourism to the Holiday Islands until some manner of accountability comes about.

  31. A great peace of writing Mike and it’s a relief to hear other people’s opinion on the murders of the two backpackers,as I have been following the story closely and getting more and more frustrated with shambolic handling by the Thai police.I lived on Koh Phangan in the 90’s for many years and know that these mafia stories being talked about here are no exaggeration.I lived on the island with a Thai man ,who was connected to this mafia for some of my time there and soon got to know how things worked.The islanders of Koh Phangan and are wild ,tribal almost feral people who have not been educated the same way as to what we have been in the west.I do not mean this in a derogatory way at all ,it’s just a fact.Cultures are different.Violence and murder is actually a common occurrence on these islands ,but as mentioned in previous posts they are covered ups,scapegoated or as with many of the farang murders …concluded as suicides. Anyone who has spend a prolonged time on these islands knows this is mafia linked …For the PM to say ‘no Thai would do this’ made me laugh out loud ….NO Mr PM ,it’s exactly what a Thai would do!! Life is cheap ..Fact..in the 90’s you could have someone ‘disappear ‘ for 1000Baht. So this murder was committed by a Thai, probably not too high up the chain but definately an associate of one of the influentials on the island.Most probably high on Yaba or coke.Lost face when he was rejected by farang girl who was ‘saved’ by farang boy. So this makes Thai boy furious and gets some mates to help him get rid them.This conclusion doesn’t take a genius ,however despite this being a most heinous crime I can understand how and why it has happened and has done in the past .We must remember that Thailand is a million miles away for our culture here in the west.We arrived in droves on their beautiful islands ,ok providing them with an income but they have to put up with us. We brought with us our hedonistic lifestyle and western values much to the shock of what is a very conservative country.So for years and years there has been a culture clash..But Thailand is money led and they really need our tourism so they put up with us as long as we spend our money. Farang will never have the respect of the Thai’s because as visitors we never showed much respect for them.i have seen many an altercation between farang and Thai.The most hated are the Israelis and American. Both nationalities epitomising everything Thais hate…loudness, brashness, size ( much larger than your average Thai man) .Understanding thai culture is quite complex and tourist rarely take the time to bother themselves with it .
    So tourism in Thailand has been bitter sweet. It has provided a huge industry but in doing so has damaged its people ,which in turn will damage tourism .We are seeing this now .I was going to return to Thailand next year with my teenage son but have decided against it now. My life on a Thai island 20 years ago was blissful and happy but I realise now things have changed since then and I want to keep these memories special and not sully them with what Thailand has become.

    • I think this is a fair take on perhaps what actually panned out. I have ruminated on the evidence presented on-line, thus-far, for many hours and “Mini’s” take fits with my understanding of how this culture might react to insult and if one’s “phum-jai” = “pride” is taken to task by a farang. I think David Miller confronting, someone (maybe Thai) at some juncture (David being an old fashioned gentleman no doubt), would be enough to inflame cultural tensions of someone who felt they are above the law, given their perceived status with their own culture. It really does come down to “motive”. Unfortunately, the Burmese suspects, even though they have confessed, don’t really tick all the boxes for sufficient motive, generally speaking, in a murder case. Unless they were dedicated Ya Ba users? Not sure if these guys make enough moolah to sustain a habit?

      Mike’s take is pretty succinct and equates with my own experience. Though, I couldn’t target the factions involve as clearly as Mike has. This IS good reportage. To crap on and say it doesn’t equate with some media “standard” is pointless. Mike has provided insight. This is rare and the point of online blogging.

      I kind of don’t want to elaborate as I can’t say I feel completely at ease in Thailand enunciating my opinions uncensored. Maybe it’s the saving face thing? Suffice to say, the bulk of Thai folks are not doubt horrified and embarrassed by what has happened on Ko Tao, but ultimately it is this “darker side” of their psyche (chit-ta-whit-ta-ay = psychology) they will eventually have to come to terms with, if they want to be player on the global stage. White lies are still lies all the same. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. Hopefully people will evolve a conscience in a culture where they can express themselves and be confident their expression are not met with sharp rebuke or incarcernation.

      Morality is a luxury not afforded to the so-called 3rd world. Thailand is kind-of-second world. Westerners tend to forget this. The Thai “official” response to these killing has horrified me more than the acts’ itself. It has answered one injustice with a motivation of self-interest. ie. “our tourism industry will collapse, quick, how do we sweep this under the carpet?”.

      Very sad for all concerned, the families of the victims, and how the Thai nation, as a capable governing authority, have tried to resolved it.

  32. Thanks for the article. To say I have been confused by the journalistic reporting of this incident would be an understatement. I suppose when the information keeps changing, how can journos accurately report on this?

    I have been travelling to Thailand for the past 30 years and have had many dark experiences. One such experience was having a sword pulled on me in a Bangkok taxi because I asked for my change (400baht). I was only 17 so I learnt a swift lesson – never hand over more money than you’re willing to lose.

    MikeE’s account brings to the fore the dark underbelly that rules Thailand. It’s there and it’s real. I’ve seen it and have experienced it. It’s a beautiful place to visit – and to leave (quietly).

    By the way, for anyone visiting Phuket – please be careful when swimming at the beach. The ocean has a massive undertow that will have no hesitation in sucking you down to drown you. The government refuses to publish any material warning tourists of this because of the loss of face. Would they rather people die than to offer precautions to beach goers? Visitors need to be educated on visiting Thailand, and quickly.

  33. what saddens me most is the PM. I really had him down as a good guy, but his comments and failings over the last few weeks left me in despair

  34. Having lived several years on one of the islands, I never had the courage to write about this. You did, and I hope you will be free of any harm when you are in Thailand. Openness about these kind of situations in this country can cost your head.

    And about the 2 Burmese they appointed as suspects: you know, and I know, that the DNA the police found in the victim is certainly -not- the DNA of the Burmese. People from Myanmar are generally treated extremely badly here. They are being molested and even killed by the police, only because their employers don’t want to pay them for delivered labour and rather pay the police to get rid of them.

    Good luck with your ‘spicy’ travel blog. Happy and safe travels!

    • I left Thailand two days after the coup. I couldn’t ethically stay in a country where the government was rounding up human rights activists, journalists and historians, including two of my Fiance’s professors at the University she was studying at on exchange.

      I love the country, but absolutely loathe the current situation. Since I wrote this a lot has happened, but the things we predicted came about – such as the Burmese patsies.

      I truly believe that justice will not be done for these two poor travellers, and now the poor burmese who will also likely die so a local can continue to enjoy freedom. I’m going to continue researching this incident and try and put together a larger timeline/narrative that links together media, NGO and other reports into something that makes sense, and is backed up with actual evidence.

      I have no intention to return to Thailand unless there is a complete regime change that protects press freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of association and the right to vote – and an independent police, army and judiciary. I don’t see this happening for a long time.

  35. Your summation is pretty much what I figured when I saw the headlines. Those Burmese migrants don’t stand a chance. However don’t condemn the Thai people for this sort of behavior, its a worldwide issue. Think any of Putin’s cronies worry about being arrested ? The Chicago Police Department is the biggest gang in the city (read up on the Polish barmaid’s case). Power corrupts no matter what the circumstances.
    http://www.thephuketnews.com/millionaires-son-arrested-for-street-car-racing-47818.php

  36. Having lived in Thailand for a number of years, I am very familiar with the way the Thai system works. Unfortunately, it is more corrupt than this article makes it out to be (which is bad enough). In Pai, over the summer, a cop shot another cop 5 times at the local liquor store. Why? Because this cop (whose family owned the liquor store) was always late for work. Angered, the cop went to the store, shot him 5 times, went to the police station and shot himself in the head. The first cop died a few weeks later. This was covered up immediately. No media attention at all. But, I saw the crime scene and can tell you that this did happen. I have never seen people get so angry like a Thai person. They can just snap. There is a saying that goes something like “Thai’s don’t just throw a punch or two, they fight to kill”. I believe they bottle up all their feelings inside as a means to save face and then the slightest thing can throw them overboard. Having accidentally seen the images of the murdered victims, I think these people were seriously angry. On another note, I read there was a video of one of the men buying L&M Red in 7-11. I have not seen this actually video, but it did strike me as odd when I heard this. I have never seen a Burmese worker buying these cigarettes. Everything aside, nothing adds up and I think yet again, this country is going to be responsible for another 2 innocent lives lost.

  37. Even I’m Thai but I’m doubting about the British case too! I strongly believe that Thai police caught the scapegoat. Thai police did it before if you could remember, Thai-American, Sherry Ann Duncan. There’s Thai who lives in USA making Facebook page name’s “CSI LA” to investigate this case. Btw, I rented Motor bike in Koh Phangan last year (the island is not far from Koh Tao) they charged me about $300 actually it was $450 but they discount me later! I needed to withdraw money from ATM machine, the renter followed me to the ATM even my ID card was with her! She was so obsessed me that time!

  38. Reblogged this on Just so! MAY and commented:
    I would love to re-blog this article into my page. Even I’m Thai but I would say this is all exactly true about my country. I love my country, but I’m not staying in daydream. There’re still more story which not in this article! But this article may make you all know something about Thai system. I don’t mean everybody in my country isn’t nice! Tbh they’re almost nice! But almost who are powerful in my country, they’re not nice! So these are some information to prepare yourselves before come to my country, I hope it help!

  39. “It’s impossible to create scapegoats in 2014, since it is easier for police to be grilled by the public,” Prachum.

    Well, that’s one theory? Perhaps this illustrates the kind of simplistic logic being employed here, or, there-lack-of? This is a kind of whinge, “rue-ing the day” the public might want to find a “police-service” (in Thailand, it hardly counts as that) accountable.

    There are plenty of dis-informations posted on the net. Plenty of it in the form of unclear journalistic reporting and conjecture, but often, fed from an unclear source – in this case, the so-called “reliable source” – the authorities.

    I’ve come to term it “dispersing-dis-information”.

    Still, I’ll cut the RTP some slack and allow for the possibility they’ve “have caught their man”. So prove it? and stop threatening the public for entering into a discourse on the body of speculation the RTP have clumsily have fielded in the media. You can’t prosecute the masses for entertaining conjecture on what has yet to be proven in a court of law (albeit a Thai court of law).

    A new unidentified suspect on the DNA trail? Well, surely this discredits the testimony of the Burmese culprits if there is, as yet, an unidentified culprit in the crime.

    If anyone was interested in accountability, they’d of invited the scrutiny of a neutral party and let the politics of “saving face” go by the wayside.

  40. I think its prudent to note that the Police covering the case did NOT employ the services of a Forensic Pathologist in this case, the crime scene was messed up from the start so whatever samples made it to the lab were quite likely cross contaminated. I wouldn’t put too much on Dr. Pornthip’s gaffe about the bomb detectors. She is a respected forensic pathologist. She has also now released a statement casting serious doubt on the forensic evidence gathered in this case

    • The police are laughable and could not detect a liter of milk in the fridge. There uneducated and lazy. They have paid for there jobs. With the intent to make some Baht. The Army has also failed to reform just the starting point A….. Big talk and all is back to normal scammers, Skis, Dirty operators no uniforms, Tattoos, Look like there on drugs. This is the first thing the happy touirst sees. Giving good Thais a bad name. Prayuth is talker not doer 🙂

      I would not vote the NCPO if my life depended on it. there performance was been a sham

  41. Top tier reporting here. I found the parts about Han families particularly interesting. I am not well versed on the subject (but what Westerner is, really?), but I suspect this entire country is run by families of Chinese descent, rather than ethnic Thais.

  42. น้องเมอซี่ Reply

    T_T sorry from Thailand.

    I’m here today not because I’m Thai but we are human of the world.
    We want to ask for justice to victims who were murdered in Ko Tao as we want the investigation to be transparent. It’s not only that but also for 2 burmese who were tortured to confess.

    We don’t want to let money become justice and guilty person still live peacefully without any charges. We are so desperate from system in the country,so, we want the world know that there are voices of people that want this case to be cleared. Please help us, please give justice to Hannah and David
    https://www.facebook.com/821012217919231/photos/a.821026284584491.1073741827.821012217919231/833078890045897/?type=1&theater://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dark-Knights-ll/821012217919231?fref=ts

  43. T_T sorry from Thailand.

    I’m here today not because I’m Thai but we are human of the world.
    We want to ask for justice to victims who were murdered in Ko Tao as we want the investigation to be transparent. It’s not only that but also for 2 burmese who were tortured to confess.

    We don’t want to let money become justice and guilty person still live peacefully without any charges. We are so desperate from system in the country,so, we want the world know that there are voices of people that want this case to be cleared. Please help us, please give justice to Hannah and David.

    • You seem one of a few, I admire you.
      Most Thai, however, hate Farang.
      Oh, don’t read that wrong, they smile at and love Farang to leave Farang money in THailand, but apart from that, they hate them all.

      Result of?

      Your King’s false preaching and suppression machine!

      People of Thailand need to wake up, educate themselves and stand up, eradicate all Royal pest (that includes all government no matter what colour), who is responsible for Thailand’s growing misery.

      https://twitter.com/thailand4thai

  44. Good article and very informative.
    I’ve spent 2 periods within 2 years touring Thailand & it included Koh Samui,Koh Phangnan and Koh Tao.
    So all in all for the last 2 years I’ve spent 25 days on different parts of the different islands alone.
    I’ve a little experience with enforcement and generally I find that Thai people are the same as everyone else,i.e. you give a yard and they want to take a mile.The trick is not to put yourself in the position where you’ve to give a yard.
    I’ve seen some terrible things but all of them from people differing overseas countries taking advantage of the poverty described above.Everybody has a price but unfortunately in Thailand money = survival.
    Foreigners such as I are often ignorant observing Thai culture and I’ve noticed the disappointment in Thai peoples eyes when this happens.I’ve remained friends with 4 or 5 of the people I’ve met there and they are the most genuine honest people that I’ve met on my travels.I think in the article above theres something that puzzles me also.

    “Something about the whole story still doesn’t make sense though. I simply cannot understand why someone from one of these powerful families would actually get involved in this mess and do something so brutal.Somewhere these facts don’t add up”

    I feel likewise.No matter what your experience withThailand and/or Thai people those within and/or without the local empowerment it destroys so many options for every organisation in Thailand never mind Koh Tao.That’s why I think it could be a couple of visitors that totally ‘lost it’.My friends have often been concerned when I’ve even joked about visiting these parties as they are aware of the major dangers around.I’ve heard so many different things while there about attacks,rapes,drugs,girls etcetera that are barbaric,clueless and insane but they were from European and American guys.
    I could be 100% wrong but I don’t think any organisation can cover a trail that well when they’ve absolutely everything to lose.
    Just my opinion.

    • Women, drugs, alcohol and late nights… I;m not sure the thai mafia are thinking of the consequences of their actions.

  45. Thai people are honest and it’s good that most of them do not believe the RTP. Sadly if you are rich and have connections you can get away with murder in Thailand, as appears to have happened here. The RTP are totally corrupt but they have been caught out here, the world will not let them get away with yet another fit up

  46. Some great observations here about the darker side of Thailand. I do hope that justice can be done in this terrible case as soon as possible as it must be really terrible or the sad families concerned to have lost their loved ones. RIP

  47. Thailand will be find if all of foreigners like you will not come to my Thailand. Has a lot of an idiots foreigner stays and makes a big problem to our Thailand why don’t you write and say about its?

    • Oh come on please Reply

      God father, if you have a stupid opinion, might as well not say it because it makes you look really dumb. Somebody local killed these tourists, how can you say they caused problem? YOu need to get your brain checked. You are part of the problem why Thailand is such a mess. Tourism contributes 8% to Thailand’s GDP and godforbid if foreigners stop coming to Thailand the effect of having 8% of the economy wiped out is probably going to affect you greatly. So be carefule what you wish for. As a Thai, I’m ashamed to be sharing national identity with such an idiot like you.

      • Your a good Thai. If that was my sister I would have killed the police and the head family membersalready . Being a US Navy seal I will do my time in the US. WHO knows I may visit them oneday. YOU people think your safe hiding in Thailand lol. We can destroy you in one night

    • ถ้าข้อความนี้มาจากเกาะเต๋า = มึงทำปัญหา ขึ้นมาเอง

    • You are a fucking scum bag that wants a slapping. You murdering rapist dog. Tell your mom she is a dog for birthing you. Your son’s are shit from a asshole
      Email : [email protected]
      You want to meet your mother fucker

    • You are right, Thai royal fart sniffing prick!

      Foreigners need to learn to stay away from your rotten, stinking royal turf. Kill yourselves among each other, follow the trait of your murderer king, … what was his name, … ah ‘Bhumi the dummie”. Your “Royal” Siamese are one of the world’s last remaining pest.

  48. “We found the Facebook page’s administrator might want to destroy the credibility of Thailand’s judicial process.”

    re: CSI LA Facebook’s claims.

    I’d say even Thailand’s judiciary are having a hard time stomaching this one. Nothing to do with the judiciary, more to do with the constabulary.

  49. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29834046
    This is hilarious. Also, yes, you can have Brit Police come over to ”help” the investigation but they cannot do any investigation. Finally, oh yes, the case is closed, so getting DNA from the person (that everyone believes actually did it) is pointless!! Don’t worry, karma will get ya.

  50. The person(s) who committed the crime was most likely on yabaa which obliterates the size issue and also the rationale for the murders.
    Thailand is not a dangerous country in general but it has and underlying racism and superiority complex issue. Thai people are generally honest and I never count the change…..which I do invariably in my own country.
    The police is as corrupt as it gets. I would not want to be a honest officer here.
    Foreigners are often disrespectul of thai culture but that is no good reason for brutal murder and violence…..unfortunately, whilst not dangerous this is a violent country; with many guns pro capita and a respect for brutality the result is predictable.
    On top of fighting the social plague of yabaa the ideal of impunity should be eradicated. ” I murder a foreigner in my own country so I am fine”….must be replaced with ” I murdered another human being.”

  51. I was on Ko Samui and Phangan for some time after these murders and I was so shocked to hear that everyone, literally everyone I spoke to, locals and expats alike, all KNEW that these 2 guys are innocent and that its a total set up. I wont go into detail here but I wold like to know -HOW can we get something going, some kind of petition on line or major international awareness on this case? I wrote to the parents of the victims, only on fb, but Ive heard they believe the Burmese guys did it as they are buying the Thai DNA theory- (which incidentally I was told, in confidence over there , that the Thai Police actually forced the 2 guys to masturbate and inserted the ‘evidence ‘ into the dead body) There are no limits as to what the thais will do to save ‘face’ or make money. Everyone knows who did this. I realise its conjecture, but several people told me that the guy did this. was seen the following day, covered in scratches and the night before he had been high as a kite on drugs. A few days later the same guy was quietly shipped off to Bangkok..back to University. So this guy will still be free. Free to do this all over again ..some day. And 2 innocent men could be killed. What they have been through is already horrific. The Burmese people are gentle and humble. These boys were just trying to eek out a living and support their poor familes. It distress’s me beyond words to think they could die for this. I love Thailand and have been back many many times and lived on these islands, but I am seriously thinking of never going back due to all this . So sad. Such a beautiful country, and some wonderful people, but with this shit going on its seriously dark. I was told, that if I didnt stop ‘snooping’ and if I posted my thoughts on fb, I could be in danger myself. Only costs a $200 to have a ‘farang’ taken out! Shortly before , A Russian guy was shot 5 times in the back. Verdict: Suicide. Say no more.

    • Nicola my friend was murdered on 8/1/16 on Koh Tao, he was not on the bar crawls but drinking in the lotus bar, his battered body was found in the swimming pool of the sunset bar the next morning. We have been told cctv was broken. Within 12 hrs the police had said accidental drowning was the cause of death. Luke was only 26 and like his last post on Facebook says he was ‘living the dream’. We will never except this verdict and I, like you believe that global awareness is needed. It’s hard to believe that a place of such beauty on the surface is one of the most corrupt and utterly vile places on earth.

  52. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for such a well-informed and indepth explanation about what really goes on on the Thai islands. I’m glad people are standing up and taking notice. Reading some recent comments too, it begs belief that most visitors to the islands around the time of the deaths knew that the two Burmese men were innocent, but seemingly shrugged it off. I can just imagine it. Nicola, if you’re reading this, I too am desperate to see a petition of some kind.

    This really struck a chord with me, since my boyfriend and I, who are the same age as Hannah and David, were assaulted in Zoe in Yellow bar, way up north in the usually charming Chaing Mai infront of hundreds of revellers a few months before the murders. It could have been much worse but boyfriend was admitted to hospital with some gnarly head injuries. (on a side note, I just want to warn as many people as possible about th dangers at Zoe in Yellow, so here’s my post about what happened, and the corruption that goes on allover Thailand, not just in the islands):

    http://www.thewanderlist.net/thailand/chiang-mai-zoe-in-yellow/

    “backpackers generally don’t pay attention to these sort of things, many tend to think they are invincible or will never happen to them”

    well summarised Mike.
    It REALLY frustrates me how visitors, as well as maybe even expats in Thailand, not only turn a blind eye to it all, but actually defend the perpetrators. For example we’ve met lots of British travellers who, instead of sympathising about both the Koh Tao murders, AND our own horriffic experience at Zoes in Chaing Mai, state that the victims must have done something to provoke them in the first place. “They’ll never do anything unless you disrespect them” is the general consensus. no shit, sherlock.

    Even on the evening of my boyfriend being beaten by the staff at Zoe’s. backpackers who witnessed what happened merely shrugged and said they’ve been frequeting the bar every night for 2 weeks now and ‘it happens all the time. you get used to it.’

  53. Firstly thank you for the informative post. I am looking into purchasing land on Koh Tao.

    This is only my assumption on the British murder.

    All arrows point to the son (& possible friend) of the influential family head being the guilty culprits. They run, fabricate an alibi, the father offers the RTP money, the RTP spread the fabricated alibi, Sean the witness is threatened by “mafia” family, refusing DNA tests, the couple leaving a bar connect to said family, etc.

    I reckon the son was in/near the bar chatting up Hannah (or trying to) and wouldn’t take no for an answer. The British guy went home with her and the mafia prince got jealous.

    – Going purely on the crime itself:

    Who ever killed them wanted the girl sexually – hence the rape. To go after a girl who is already with a guy, especially with witnesses around would require an ego, ego enough to think there would be no repercussions against them for such a brazen double murder/rape. Ego that would come with power without responsibility. The exact sort of ego seen time and time again, throughout history in the sons of powerful men – specifically feared men/gangsters.

    Add the crime with the indications post murder & there is only really one outcome. it is in my opinion as plain as day.

    The “Mafia Prince” (and possibly his buddy) killed the pair. The father paid off the RTP.

    • ” Planning to buy land on Koh Tao…”

      If this is your plan it is obvious you are a Thai citizen, but if you are not closely involved with or related to the Headman referred to in the British tragedy, you would be well advised to invest in other regions of Thailand where the dice may not be so loaded against you.

  54. I wanted to return to this excellent blog post as I’ve just woken up to the verdict in the UK. Seemingly a huge miscarriage of justice has taken place and the families of the victims seem publicly content with the courts ruling. Another classic case of corruption in the developing world…

    Makes me want to reconsider going back to Koh Tao early next year for a few days vacation

    • Reconsider? It should be a no-brainer. I just came back from Phangan and Samui and although I would have liked to see Koh Tao again the sick taste in my mouth that the senseless killings have left meant i had to pass.
      I CAN NOT believe tourist dont care enough to boycott Koh Tao!!

  55. You really should rename this to “The Dark-side of Thailand”. THailand is in the shadow of their king, who is in his own shadow over the murder of his own brother which caused the execution of 3 innocent Thai, just to cover up the case. Ever since, the rest of Thailand’s path is history, based on the murder of King Rama IIIV, the true king of Thailand, if any!

  56. The Burmese did not do it but the Thai PM ordered them to be found guilty” because ” No Thai could have done it”

    Hannah’s family have reserved their opinion but David’s family have been totally hoodwinked by the RTP and just wanted closure.

    Relations with Myanmar now very strained.

    British police seem to be bending over backwards to accommodate the RTP to preserve the previous status quo where the RTP were helpful in tracking down British fugitives in Thailand.

    Thailand through its leaders and elitist class is a very evil place and probably no longer such a good holiday destination as the leaders grow closer to China who has a plan to absorb their former tributary states, China will be the only country to accept the decision re this case and ultimately the British won’t when they get over Xmas holidays.

    A massive travesty.

  57. day by day Thailand’s current rulers grow closer to China whose leaders thoroughly approve this verdict. Mike is quite right to say the proposed appeal is unlikely to run its course. Huge money has been spent to achieve this conviction by the real offenders. Only a small further amount will be needed to bring about yet 2 more suicides in Thai jails. The number of suicides and assisted suicides in Thai jails has been on the rise over the last few months. An evil situation in a country which once wanted to be taken seriously. None of the above detracts from the fact that in the general population and away from the elitist class there is a population of very nice but powerless peoples.

  58. I will never return to Koh Tao let alone Thailand, this is injustice. I prefer to visit Burma. The island suffers from small island fever – the island is their world – this is what happens when you stay there too long. Too scared to remember your actual moral convictions because as an expat, you sunk your livelihood into that place. They (mafia) rule it. You never get newspapers on the island to broaden your horizons anymore – do actually do not care about what is happening anywhere else in the world – because the island is your world. Don’t let anything destroy your ‘Utopian view’. I still remember Burmese being taken out to sea and dumped – to their deaths. Probably because, their thai employers did not want to pay them for their labour in building their resorts. Because they are illegal – there is no recourse for action.

  59. This whole scenario is complicated by the belief that the headman on Koh Tao was a major financial sponsor of the Yellow shirt movement that brought Prayut to power, the same goes for Natural Foods Corporation who are trying to get Andy Hall thrown into jail. Andy is the main effective source of international support for the unlucky Burmese.

  60. Our friend was murdered in Koh Tao on January 8. He was beaten and dumped into a swimming pool at Sunset bar on sairee beach. I know this message will probably be removed but If one person sees this who is considering going to Koh Tao my advise to you is don’t. If you do decide that you want to risk your lives despite the inherent dangers and also attend these bar crawls, I urge you to stick with your friends. Do not leave one another’s side. The Island is dangerous and you are not safe going anywhere alone, even in pairs you are not safe. Safety in numbers at all times. I am telling you this from personal experience. I do not wish for anyone to go through the pain and horror of losing a loved one in similar circumstances. We did not attend this pub crawl but I know how crazy they get. Hannah and David were murdered on the beach after attending these pub crawls. Our friend was enjoying a drink at Lotus bar on sairee beach and was later found “drowned” in the morning. Do not become a story in the world news. Go home to your families alive and not in a box. Even better do not visit Koh Tao. Our friend Luke Miller arrived home yesterday and a second post mortem will be conducted as obviously the Thai officials would like this to be passed off as and accident. It was not! Please join our page “Luke’s legacy ( justice for Luke) ” as we find the answers and justice for our friend in the hope that this never happens again. #boycottkohtao #justiceforluke #livingthedream

  61. the sik fks on tht island need 2b taken out, every1 knws who killed all the ppl on tht fkd up island including luke miller we will get justice 1day

  62. Yes the RTP are scum and the so called mafia lol. Tell your sister I want to spit on her. I wish I could spend 10 minutes with you. YOU dumb Thai trash. I spent 10 years US ARMY. Served in 3 countries. I will snap your neck like a twig. TELL your mama she gave birth from her asshole.

  63. I anon posted after the ‘murders’. Koh Tao is a law onto itself. I nearly got sucked into the idyll and nearly lost a life. But.. realised ..even as a semi-hippy-. that I prefer law and order to chaos… that law does not exist there… esp. when my life was at stake and I realised there actually was no-one to hear me, as they were too scared. Too scared to protect their western businesses – too inable to leave the island and the ”laws” there. You see, understand it, when you live on an island, with no news of any nature, the island becomes your world. You see, you rule and dictate it – including you want rid off. I first realised something was amiss when .. my friend … diving… her dive board diverted to pick up some people dumped at sea – Burmese. Why? Labour is cheap, and illegal = no rights. He was picked up but his 2 mates died. Common. I was upset that evening. I said, I would contact Amnesty International due to how the Burmese where treated (like the one in the ”murder” of hannah an david lol).. I was told I would not live and to forget it. This Island is a ****ing nightmare, never go there.

  64. ”Novozhenova was last seen walking past a store near her hostel in CCTV footage early on the morning of Feb. 15.” Yet police spent 3 weeks searching for her diving.

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