By now, you’re probably already aware of the shooting that occurred at Siam Paragon, a mall in Bangkok, on 3 October.
Two were killed, while five were hurt.
Since then, a 14-year-old boy has been arrested as a suspect.
Another person who found himself in the climax of the tragedy was Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
He and his family were near the shooting site.
Thankfully, they managed to take cover at the Singapore embassy.
He has since thanked Singapore publicly.
Recount of the Incident
Tunku Ismail recounted the ordeal on his Facebook and X pages on the night of the incident.
He and his family were sitting in a hotel lobby near Siam Paragon.
Suddenly, people started shouting and running into the hotel.
The shooter had started shooting.
He said, “It was so loud, and so many people were yelling.”
Tunku Ismail’s first instinct was to take his family to a safe place.
His family and their security team fled to the hotel’s basement.
Notably, he did not specify the name of the hotel.
He wrote, “My thoughts were focused on how many shooters were out there, what weapons they were using and what the situation was.
“We had to be vigilant and be prepared for any possibility because all we knew was that there were gunshots. We had no other information and needed to be prepared for anything that could happen.”
His first instinct was to look out for his four children, aged between two and seven.
He said, “I still have images of me telling my kids, ‘Everything will be okay. Babah and Mama are here.’”
He told his children to stay down and wait for their car to arrive.
He and his security team stood in front of his family, building a “human shield” to protect them.
He wrote, “The only thing on my mind was getting my family and security team out of danger.”
During the ordeal, his wife, Che’ Puan Besar Khaleeda, hugged the children, trying to comfort them as they were terrified and crying.
Tunku Ismail told the driver to get the group to the Malaysian embassy when their transport arrived.
However, he was told that the Singapore embassy was nearby.
Thus, he contacted Singapore’s Consul-General Jeevan Singh in Johor for help.
He said, “Now, we’re safe in the embassy.”
He added that he called Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Defence Minister Mohamad Hasan to inform them of the unfolding situation.
He also mentioned that the Malaysian Ambassador to Thailand, Jojie Samuel, joined him later.
Safe and Sound
Tunku Ismail said that he would fly back to Johor when it is safe to do so.
Though he lamented missing the football match between Johor Darul Ta’zim and BG Pathum United on Tuesday night, he expressed his gratitude that his family and team were safe.
He said, “This is the worst experience I’ve ever had. Protecting the lives of my children from a killer. Two people died. May God bless their innocent souls.
“Alhamdulillah (thanks be to God), we are safe. Thanks to my security team and our friends from Singapore and Malaysia.
“I will forever be grateful to you all.”
Recap of the Incident
You can click here to learn everything you need to know about the tragedy, but here’s a summary to keep you up to speed.
On 3 October, a shooting occurred at Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok.
Siam Paragon is Thailand’s most famous mall, attracting large crowds due to its high-end stores, movie theatre, 10,000 sq m aquarium, and hugely popular food-court dining.
Gunshots were heard near high-end retail stores.
A Chinese and a Myanmar national were killed.
The Chinese tourist died at the scene, while the Myanmar national died in the hospital.
Five people were injured.
Fortunately, hundreds of shoppers managed to flee the mall.
Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau said a 14-year-old boy was arrested for the incident.
The Nation newspaper reported that the suspect surrendered after running out of bullets.
The suspect is a student at a school near the mall.
According to The Nation, the suspect claimed that he thought someone was going to attack him.
Thus, he took out his Glock 9mm pistol and began shooting.
Gun Violence in Thailand
When people think of gun violence, they usually associate it with the USA.
However, Thailand faces its fair share of gun violence cases as well.
In 2020, a Thai soldier went on a rampage.
He killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 people.
In 2022, a former police officer killed 22 children in a nursery.
The attack involved both guns and knives.
Following the 2022 nursery shooting, the Thai government promised stricter gun control regulations, wanting all firearms registered after the mass killing.
However, the country still sees many shootings and incidents involving firearms.
According to the GunPolicy.org website, Thailand has one of the region’s highest gun ownership rates.
The website states that there are around 10 million firearms in circulation.
In 2019, Thailand recorded almost 1,300 gun deaths.
However, Vietnam, a neighbouring country with a population that is 40% higher, only saw 130 gun deaths in the same year.
Following the nursery shooting, the police announced an indefinite suspension of the gun welfare programme.
Under the programme, government authorities are given discounts on personal guns.
Furthermore, they can buy them through their agencies, so they don’t have to go through the civilian licensing process.
However, a police source told Agence France-Presse (AFP), a French international news agency, that the programme still exists.
For context, privately bought firearms are expensive, with many junior and low-ranking police officers being unable to afford them.
Thus, many prefer to use their own firearms to avoid heavy fines if the gun is damaged or lost.
Police officers who want guns can bring their own money or loan money from police cooperatives.
Although there were promises of change following the nursery shooting, they have not materialised.
Some proposed changes include regular mental health evaluations and stricter licence restrictions.
Referencing the fact that the suspect in the Siam Paragon shooting is only 14 years old, Boonwara Sumano of the Thailand Development Research Institute pointed to the Thai cultural norm of valorising guns from a young age.
Speaking to AFP, she said, “It’s widespread among students of vocational education institutes to build their own guns.
“The underpinning factor in Thai society is the norm that you need to look strong and powerful, and guns are the way of showing that.”
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