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Patong hotel files B100mn defamation counter-complaint against Thai Army

PHUKET: The Patong resort embroiled in a spat with Phuket-based soldiers over extortion claims and now facing criminal defamation charges is now threatening to file a counter-claim of defamation against the Royal Thai Army seeking their own damages to the tune of B100 million.

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Sunday 8 April 2018, 11:04AM

The counter-complaint was announced at Patong Police Station yesterday morning (April 7) by the hotel’s legal representative Anand Chaiyadej accompanied by Patong Paragon Co Ltd Executive Board member Wisit Eamwirojrit.

Receiving the complaint was Patong Police Chief Col Anotai Jindamanee, who was present when Lt Col Surasak Peungyeam, who as Deputy Commander of the 25th Military Circle is the leading Army officer in Phuket, accompanied by Sub Lt Wattanachai Klongpradit, also of the Royal Thai Army 25th Military Circle, filed a complaint in person at Patong Police Station at 8:30am last Monday (April 2).

That complaint was against two Patong Police officers who were allegedly providing “private protection services” for the hotel executive involved in the dispute, which all stems from an employee filing a complaint with the Army about being unfairly dismissed from his job.

The two officers accused of providing private bodyguard services were transferred to a training centre in Surat Thani that same day with immediate effect. (See story here.)

That complaint filed last Monday followed Army Region 4 Commander Lt Gen Piyawat Narkvanich announcing last Sunday (April 1) that he had instructed Army legal officers to file defamation charges against the hotel.

The Army’s defamation claim was in response to a video being posted online showing soldiers at the hotel investigating the allegedly unfair dismissal amid claims that the soldiers had attempted to extort money from the hotel’s management. (See story here.)

At Patong Police Station yesterday (April 7), Mr Anand said the aim of the hotel moving ahead with its own defamation charges was not an act against the Royal Thai army as an institution.

“This is just against some soldiers. We must move to prosecute to protect the people,” he said.

“The two police officers who have been transferred had no idea about this situation. They just volunteered to help,” he added.

Mr Anand also said that in light of some reports posted online, which named individuals, the hotel was also considering filing a complaint under the Computer Crimes Act.

BIS Phuket

Alluding to what might have instigated the current spat, Mr Anand explained that a dispute between company management two years ago resulted in a court case heard in Samut Prakarn through which a B500 million settlement was reached.

“I will not speak much about it, but there was such conflict, internal management had its problems. There was a court case and the problem seems to arisen again, involving employees including the complainant and the source of the problem who is the partner of a former management partner,” he said.

Regarding the dismissed employee and the “source of the problem”, who Mr Anand referred to only as “Mr A”, Mr Anand said that Mr A had not presented himself for work for six consecutive days without informing his employers.

“Mr A was absent for six days from December 25 to 31, returning to work on January 1, alleging that he had been sick, and stuck in Padang Besar, in Sadao, Songkhla province,” Mr Anand said.

“Mr Wisit asked Mr A for evidence to support his claim, but apparently he could not. His termination of employment notice was signed on January 5, 2018, by virtue of the Labor Act, BE 2541 (1998), Section 119 (5), which states that in case of absence from employment for more than three days without notice, an employee can be dismissed without compensation.

“A letter was sent to the Office of Labor Protection and Welfare confirming the legality of this action. The Labor Protection Welfare Office also further clarified that it is possible to prohibit the offending employee from entering the establishment and, if so, the offender can be prosecuted,” he added.

Mr A later approached another partner for help, but found no joy, Mr Anand said.

“He refused to leave and demanded that he would keep his job. He filed a complaint with Region 8 Police and then the Damrongdhama Centre (Provincial Ombudsman’s Office), which later referred the matter to the Royal Thai Army.

“Later on March 27, nine soldiers visited the hotel, as seen in the video clip posted online, without even making an appointment,” he concluded.



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