Mega-hit serial pays tribute to diplomatic genius of King Narai

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national April 07, 2018 01:00

By JINTANA PANYAARVUDH

THE NATION

A MEGA-HIT historical TV soap opera not only transports viewers to the Siamese Kingdom of three centuries ago, but also re-enacts clever diplomatic moves by the most prominent king of the period.

 

In line with the best historical TV dramas, “BuppeSanNivas” (Love Destiny) is playing a vital role in bringing alive the nation’s history for people living in the present time.

The soap opera’s backdrop is the Ayutthaya period during the reign of King Narai the Great, who ruled the kingdom over 300 years ago.

The series admittedly adds a flavour of “drama” to the history of the period, but has brought to life the brilliant diplomatic moves of King Narai.

“I’m not surprised why King Narai was bestowed with the title ‘the Great’,” said Adisak Panupong, former Thai ambassador to several countries.

“He was faced with internal and external battles. But with his wise vision, he succeeded in balancing the power between his noblemen and outsiders,” Adisak told a recent seminar entitled “A look back into Thai history with BuppeSanNivas”.

Adisak noted that the series focuses on an era when the Ayutthaya attracted the attention of numerous foreign countries, including Holland, France, Persia and China, who were eyeing to occupy the kingdom.

King Narai ruled from 1656 to 1688 and was arguably the most famous Ayutthaya king.

His reign coincided with the most prosperous times of what we now call the “Ayutthaya Era” and saw great commercial and diplomatic relations with foreign states in the Middle East and the West.

Adisak pointed to a smart move by King Narai that attracted huge interest among viewers of the TV series and generated widespread debate.

In that scene, King Narai is seen bending down to Chevalier de Chaumont, the first French emissary of King Louis XIV to Siam, who stood in front of the Siamese king. De Chaumont wanted to hand a letter from Louis XIV directly over to the king in the western manner at the Hall of Sanphet in 1685.

But in the same scene, Greek adventurer Constantine Phaulkon was seen prostrating himself in the lower left corner, as he made a gesture in an attempt to get the French envoy to raise the letter up to the king to reflect his status.

“I give my vote to the king’s decision [to bend down]. That was very wise,” said Adisak. “His manner pleased all sides, except the king’s ‘khun nang’ [noblemen].”

In French diplomatic culture, ambassadors are seen as important persons because they represent their king. So de Chaumont wanted to hand the letter directly to King Narai – king to king – but Thai people at that time gave importance to the letter itself, rather than the ambassador who carried it, Adisak explained.

After the incident, King Narai sent the first mission to France, led by Kosa Pan and two other diplomats, he added.

Thai ambassador Kosa Pan and two other diplomats have an audience with French King Louis XIV at Versailles Palace in 1686.  Photo Wikipedia

“King Narai was marvellous at moving diplomatic affairs. He knew how to seek mutual consent and how to forge a compromise between the two sides,” Adisak said.

During the later years of his reign, King Narai gave his “favourite” – Greek adventurer Phaulkon – so much power that the Greek man effectively became the chancellor of the state.

Through the arrangements made by Phaulkon, the Siamese kingdom forged close diplomatic relations with the court of Louis XIV and French soldiers and missionaries filled the Siamese aristocracy and defence forces to counter the influence of the Dutch at that time.

The French tried to convert King Narai to Christianity but the king again succeeded in neutralising the French attempt, according to the vice minister to the PM’s Office Minister ML Panadda Diskul.

‘King’s vision’

Panadda said he was impressed by King Narai’s speech in which he rejected an invitation by the French king to convert to Catholicism.

“Wasn’t it God’s desire to create things and all living creatures that have different appearances and minds, as well as religions?” asked King Narai.

“It would be difficult for me [King Narai] to change my belief in a religion which has been believed by my people [the Siamese] for more than 2,000 years,” Panadda quoted from the king’s speech to the French ambassador.

“Officials in Foreign Affairs always said the king and Kosa Pan were truly silver-tongued diplomats,” said Panadda.

The dominance of French officials at the king’s court caused friction between them and the native mandarins and led to the turbulent revolution of 1688 towards the end of King Narai’s reign.

“It was a turning point in Thai history regarding relationships with foreign countries,” noted Adisak. “We stopped contacting foreigners because of Phra Phetracha, who usurped the throne from King Narai.”

He added that a hateful sentiment towards foreigners spread at that time, and King Phetracha reversed the pro-Western policies of King Narai and ejected foreigners from the kingdom.

The Siamese had to wait until the era of King Rama II of the Rattanakosin Era to resume substantial contact with foreigners, the ex-ambassador said.

“With the king’s vision, Siam lost nothing while foreigners still love us,” said film director Viroj Srisitsereeamorn, who advised the TV series’ production team on history.

“Actually, the king also served as the kingdom’s public relations director as he helped promote several tourist attractions in Ayutthaya Kingdom to foreigners.”

First launched in mid-February, “BuppeSanNivas” has been a big hit in Thailand, also drawing audiences in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Korea, China and Russia who watch a version with subtitles in their own language as well as in English.

The series, which will end later this month, is about a kind-hearted woman, “Kedsurang”, whose soul is transported back in time to the Ayutthaya period to live inside the body of a beautiful woman called “Karaked”.

Karaked was initially a wicked woman, who plotted a murder and was cursed.

After the real Karaked died following a sacred cursing ritual, her body was possessed by Kedsurang’s soul. Other characters in the series are surprised to see the changes in Karaked’s behaviour. She becomes funny and kind.

Kedsurang in Karaked’s body challenges some social norms of the olden days but has also learned to adjust over time. In Karaked’s body, Kedsurang meets and marries her destined soulmate who was a courtier during King Narai’s reign.

Source  :  The Nation Multimedia

Russian tourist recovering in hospital after cutting own throat

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Breaking News April 07, 2018 09:27

By The Nation

A Russian woman is recovering at a Phuket hospital after she slashed her own throat with a knife in a convenient store on Friday.

 

Oksana Feoktistova, 41, walked into a 7-Eleven shop on Rat-uthit Road in Tambon Patong in Krathu district with a knife in her hand at around 8:30am on Friday.

Staff in the shop tried in vain to prevent her from hurting herself. She inflicted a serious cut on her throat. The store staff called police and an ambulance took her to Patong Hospital. She was later transferred to Vachira Phuket Hospital.

Doctors have stitched the cut and declared her safe but the woman has so far declined to talk to police.

 

Source  :  The Natrion Multimedia

Vendors rubbish criticism of Mae Klong fresh market

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national April 07, 2018 01:00

By KACHORN PHONIMTHAI

THE NATION

VENDORS AT Mae Klong, also known as Rom Hup – one of Thailand’s landmark markets – have defended its character and surroundings after coming under criticism in online posts.

They have spoken up in defence of this world-famous place after several foreigners made critical comments on a BBC News video clip titled “The train that drives through a market”.

Uploaded on YouTube on Thursday the clip features Thailand’s most famous fresh market, in Samut Songkhram province. This market is usually referred to as “Rom Hup” (folding parasols) because vendors fold parasols over their railway-side stalls whenever a train moves past.

The market sells various kinds of food and agricultural produce. But as part of the unique character and location of the market, some trays remain partly under a moving train when it slowly moves past.

One online comment said, “And that dust under the train must shower over the food”.

Another foreigner complained about the risk of accidents given customers’ and tourists’ proximity to moving trains.

Chokchai Kijrak, a dried-seafood vendor at Rom Hup Market, said foreigners should first visit the market before criticising it.

“They should come here to take a look. Vendors have kept the market very clean. You won’t see any litter,” he said.

He urged foreigners to understand local culture and ways of life.

Boonkerd Pasee, who sells limes at the market, described Rom Hup as unique.

“That’s why it attracts a huge number of tourists,” she said.

She also lamented that in fact it was tourists who hurt trade at the market because their presence has made the market too crowded.

“And I must say most tourists don’t buy fresh produce,” Boonkerd added.

Mae Klong Train Station chief Pattana Wongmujarin said the Rom Hup market had developed naturally after opening more than 30 decades ago.

“It’s not the State Railway of Thailand that has opened this market,” he said.

He said the market was in fact cleaner and safer than ever before.

“We have also revamped our railways,” he said.

Decha Singsakul, a tour guide, said he had brought numerous tourists to Room Hup.

“No one has complained about the market. They only say this place is amazing, something they have never seen elsewhere,” he said.

Decha said the number of tourists to Rom Hup had been rising every year.

“If you think the market smells, you probably don’t understand that every fresh market carries the mixed odour of fresh vegetables, fruits and meat. It’s not a dirty smell,” he said.

 

Source  :  The Nation Multimedia

Islamic State militant gives insight into group’s drone industry

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Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) An Islamic State militant has given an insight into the group’s world of drone-making, a vital weapon the militants relied on in their wars in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

Meeting with the Saudi militant, who is locked up in a jail in the Syrian Kurdish town of Dayrik, on the Turkish Syrian borders, and managed by the Syrian Democratic Forces, Saudi newspaper Okaz quoted him saying that he joined IS in Syria late 2013 at the age of 16.

“The group obtained the drones, some Chinese- and others U.S.-made, through smuggling from Turkey”. He added that when the Turkish borders were closed, smugglers shifted to running the process through the Syrian cities of Idlib and Aleppo.

He said the group used three models of drones, and that the flying range of one of them reached 600 kilometers.

He added that he used to work at the Islamic State’s “aviation central”, an elite squad of 12, including himself, which was strictly limited to those members fearing infiltration.

The squad was under the command of an Australian national nicknamed Abu Omar, the fighter, who asked not to be named, told the newspaper. It comprised two experts from Australia, one from the U.K. and the rest from Tunisia and Pakistan.

According to the militant, the group was preparing a secret device that would bring down hostile drones through high-voltage radio frequencies, but the British national working on it was killed in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the group’s former capital.

 

 

Source  : Iraqi News

Iraq denies U.S. pressures to return Kurdish forces to disputed regions

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Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraq denied on Saturday reports that it was under pressures from the United States to allow the return of Kurdish forces to areas disputed by Baghdad and Kurdistan Region.

A statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s spokesperson, Saad al-Hadithi, reported by The New Arab, said that “The issue of the deployment of Iraqi forces in the northern and western territories is part of the responsibility of the government in Baghdad”. He added that the matter is “a sovereign, independent decision that is not subject to the will of foreign powers”.

He noted, however, that “coordination to counter dangers at the disputed regions is ongoing”.

Kurdistan’s Peshmerga Ministry also denied on Thursday news of the return of its troops to the disputed regions, stressing refusal of shadow agreements in that regard.

News reports quoted Pentagon sources on Wednesday saying that special forces of Peshmerga had entered Kirkuk, after coordination with Baghdad.

Iraqi government forces approached the southern borders of Erbil, capital of semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region, after taking over Kirkuk province from Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in October, fulfilling instructions made by the Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to retake areas where sovereignty is disputed with Kurdistan.

Baghdad seized back areas disputed on with Erbil following the Kurdistan Region’s vote for independence September 25.

Iraqi PM Abadi had earlier called for joint administration of those regions.

 

Source :  Iraqi News

Over 20 Islamic State members arrested in several security operations in Nineveh

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Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) Security services have arrested more than twenty Islamic State members in several operations in Nineveh province, while weapons and explosives were seized in their possession, security sources said on Saturday.

Speaking to BasNews website, Cap. Amir Watheq, from Nineveh police, said, “security troops arrested eight Islamic State members, possessing hand grenades in Makhmur, southeast of Mosul.”

“Troops cordoned off the area, where the militants were hiding and invaded their houses, then took them to Nineveh Operations Command headquarters for investigations.”

All hand grenades, in their possession, were confiscated.

In related news, Col. Khodier Saleh, of the Federal Police, said, “security services arrested an IS cell, composed of 15 members, which was planning to to attack troops deployed in western Mosul.”

“The cell members, were possessing weapons. All were arrested inside a tunnel,” he added.
Thousands of Islamic State militants as well as Iraqi civilians were killed since the government campaign, backed by paramilitary troops and the coalition was launched in October 2016 to fight the militant group, which declared a self-styled “caliphate” from Mosul in June 2014.

Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks across Iraq against security troops. Security reports indicate that the militant group still poses threat against stability in the country.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced, in December, full liberation of Iraqi lands, declaring end of war against IS members.

 

Source  :  Iraqi News

Brother duo nabbed with 1,300 grams of heroin in stomach at Dubai airport

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Web Report/Dubai
Filed on April 7, 2018

Smugglers had earlier taken advantage of the procedures and facilities granted to the visitors.

Two brothers were caught trying to smuggle heroin, weighing more than 1,300 grams, in their stomach at the Dubai International Airport.

The Dubai Police got a tip-off that the two Asians were involved in smuggling drug into the UAE last month, said Brigadier General Eid Mohammed Thani Harib, director of anti-narcotics department.

The police learnt that the smugglers had earlier taken advantage of the procedures and facilities granted to the visitors. Therefore, the anti-narcotics department alerted the concerned officials at all exit and entry points at the borders of the state and also issued an arrest warrant against the duo.

The department sleuths nabbed the two suspects as they landed at the airport. Harib explained that the teams facilitated the duo’s entry procedures when they arrived at the Dubai International Airport.

After that, they were taken to the anti-narcotics department of the Dubai Police and subjected to preliminary questioning. During interrogation, the duo admitted that they had swallowed a large number of heroin capsules. The police investigations revealed that this was not the first time that they have smuggled drugs.

The duo was taken to the Rashid Hospital in Dubai and necessary action was taken to recover the capsules that they had swallowed. The first accused had 61 heroin capsules weighing 790 grams, while his brother had 47 capsules weighing 538 grams.

The two brothers were charged with possession and smuggling of drugs.

Hareb thanked the anti-narcotics team and the various security agencies working at the airport for their cooperation that made the arrest possible.

 

Source  :  The Khaleej Times

Salman Khan gets bail, can’t leave country without court nod

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IANS/Jodhpur
Filed on April 7, 2018 | Last updated on April 7, 2018 at 05.58 pm

After spending two nights in Jodhpur Central Jail, he left after completing all legal formalities.

Actor Salman Khan was granted bail by a district and sessions court in Jodhpur on Saturday in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case in which he was sentenced to five years in jail on Thursday.

After spending two nights in Jodhpur Central Jail, he left after completing all legal formalities and headed back to Mumbai in a chartered flight.

He cannot leave the country without the court’s permission.

The District and Sessions Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi after hearing the arguments of prosecution and defence lawyers, pronounced the order at around 3:00pm. The discussion lasted for about an hour.

“Arguments were already over in the morning but Judge Joshi reserved the order for post lunch. He has to produce personal bail bond worth Rs50,000 and produce a Rs25000 surety from two persons each who shall guarantee that he will agree to all bail conditions,” said a defence counsel.

Khan’s sisters “Alvira and Arpita” were present during the hearing.

Salman Khan was sentenced to a five-year term on Thursday for killing two blackbucks in 1998 in Kankani village, near Jodhpur in Rajasthan, while shooting for the Bollywood film, “Hum Saath Saath hai.” Blackbucks are protected under the wildlife laws.

His co-actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Saif Ali Khan, Neelam Kothari and Sonal Bendre, accompanied him during poaching but were acquitted by the sessions court.

This was the actor’s fourth stint in this prison. He has earlier spent a total of 18 days in jail in 1998, 2006 and 2007.

Meanwhile, Rampal Bhawad, state president of Bishnoi Tiger Force, said that they are disappointed with the decision of court to grant bail to Salman and said they planned to challenge this in high court.

The Bishnoi Samaj had registered the complaint against Salman for killing the two bluckbucks 20 years back as they consider the blackbuck to be the reincarnation of their religious Guru Bhagwan Jambeshwar, also known as Jambaji.

Salman Khan will also have to appear in the court on May 7 — exactly a month after this bail, said a defence counsel.

Meanwhile, Salman’s fans cheered outside the court after hearing the verdict.

Hundreds of them were also gathered in front of Salman’s residence ‘Galaxy’ apartment, located in Bandra, Mumbai. Some of them were holding big posters of their favourite film star with some even holding hand-written ones that read: “We support Salman Khan, We love Salman Khan”. Some shouted out loud “Salman bhai, Zindabad”.

To keep the crowd under control, Mumbai Police has got the area covered with barricades.

“This incident happened 20 years ago and the case is going on since then. If industry people have faith in him for the last 20 years, it will remain the same. He has steady fan-followers and gave the industry crores of business. His success says it all,” trade analyst Atul Mohan told IANS.

Even some of the Bollywood celebrities like Mika Singh, Sonu Sood and Adnan Sami expressed their joy on Twitter post after bail was given to their “brother” Salman.

 

Source  :  The Khaleej Times