The Pattaya Times reports:
A future Thai step-mother reported to the police that her 23-years-old British son to be had disappeared on Samui island. She believes he has left for Malaysia. The young man has a brain dysfunction. The future step mother is worried.
SURATHANI: — Miss Sulawan Talungpet, age 24 (see picture), the owner of a clothing store and a large car rental company on Koh Samui contacted the Daily News journalist in Koh Samui regarding her missing future stepson.
She informed the journalist that she has a boyfriend: Mr.Robert Thomson a 46-years-old British national whom she is going to marry to in June. Mr. Thomson is a ultra-high-net worth computer businessman from the UK.
In March, Mr.Robert Thomson arrived in Thailand with his son Markus Robert Thomson, age 23, for their holiday in Samui. Markus suffers from a brain dysfunction and needs daily medication otherwise he will have epileptic seizures.
On April 23, Markus disappeared from his residence, he was wearing shorts, a T-shirt and a green jacket, riding a black and gray Honda motorcycle, registration number (KorThorChor) คธฉ-776 Surat Thani.
He was carrying 200 THB in cash and a gold necklace. Markus disappearance was reported to Pol.Lt.Col. Thawatchai Promtep, Borpood police station, Koh Samui island.
After checking the CCTV footage at the port of Sea Transferry company on Koh Samui island. The CCTV footage showed Markus on April 23, at 17:00 hours after he had bought a ticket. He rode off on his motorcycle and has not been seen since.
Miss Suawan asked her boyfriend, the father, he said he had not received any call from his son. One of Markus’ friends said that Markus had told him that he wanted to go to Malaysia, but his passport was at his house.
Miss Sulawan pleads to contact her if any one knows the whereabouts of Markus her telephone number: 087-470-7607 or 083-796-6295
Mr.Thomson will pay a cash reward to anyone who can provide information on Markus Robert Thompson who is in urgent need of his neurological medication.
No sooner had this article appeared in the Pattaya Times when alert members of the Farang community in Thailand quickly noticed some irregularities. Somebody questioned why was it was revealed that the missing person is the son of an "ultra high net worth" individual. Which father would do that to his missing son? Or which concerned stepmother would feel comfortable revealing that to the press? Does it not invite a kidnap and a hefty ransom if the poor young man had merely lost his way? The son of a billionaire with a medical problem would be accompanied by bodyguards or a nurse. How could he have gone off on a motorbike with only 200 baht in his pocket?
Far more meticulous than the journalists at Pattaya Times, Farang netizens did a search on Robert Thompson the billionaire and came up with nothing even close. They also spotted a spelling mistake in the newspaper report. The missing person's name is Marcus Robert Thompson and not Markus Robert Thompson as reported. A few mean folks out there spotted another irregularity. They refused to believe that a billionaire would want to marry such an ugly girl. Looks like Farang tastes have changed! Of course, there were a few who found her absolutely gorgeous (they probably tried calling her phone number given in the article), but then, they're unlikely to be billionaires.
But the most revealing piece of information is probably not the lengthy Pattaya Times report but this. Dated 2009, another Farang netizen managed to dig up information on a court case involving one Marcus Robert Thompson (no spelling error).
Published on Thursday 13 August 2009 15:09
A BALLYMENA man has appeared in court on drugs and motoring offences.
Marcus Robert Thompson (20), of Larne Road, is accused of taking a vehicle without authority, no insurance and no driving licence on April 15.
He is further accused on April 16 of possessing cocaine and cultivating a cannabis plant.
Thompson’s case was adjourned until September 10, when he appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court.
Coincidence? Unlikely. This “billionaire’s son” has a record of stealing vehicles. What seems more than a little likely, is that there is no billionaire father in this whole fiasco. The woman rented her motorbike to the British youngster, kept his passport as a collateral and decided to call the police with promise of handsome rewards when the young punk failed to return with her vehicle. Let’s hope they find him soon.
I bet you believed her at first.
You may have seen this before, but just another funny little thing to light up your moody Monday morning.
The conservative call it a form of mutilation. The liberal call it a form of expression. Whichever way you look at it, a tattoo on a young woman draws our attention. A pretty young lady in a little dolly dress sends an in-congruent message that confuses the ogler. Matched with leather, it reinforces the bad girl image.
Times have changed. When I was an undergrad during the pre-internet days, I had few means to earn extra pocket money. I taught tuition and so did most of my peers who weren’t from such well-to-do families. Today’s undergrads, poly students and even ITE students are not only far more enterprising, they also have many more opportunities to show off their talent. Some recommend gadgets for a commission on their blogs, some run their own blogshops stocked with garments bought in Bangkok, Hongkong or Taiwan, some go into the much simpler profession of modelling.
The advent of digital photography revolutionised photography in more ways than one. A sophisticated-looking DSLR can go for less than $1000 these days and the tedious, expensive process of developing photos from film has been done away with. You can virtually shoot an unlimited number of pictures, delete those you don’t like, transfer the rest to DVDs and just keep shooting. I used to carry more than 10 rolls of film with me on my overseas trips. Nowadays, all the recording media I need can fit into my wallet and not cause any significant bulge.
With the convenience of digital media and with almost everyone going online, photoshoots are getting easier and easier to organise through the internet and with so many eager portrait photographers ready to add pretty, sexy pictures to his/her (mostly his) collection, the demand for freelance models has risen sharply. And so has the supply. Websites or online directories where models can list their profiles are seeing massive traffic almost like some job-seeking site.
With an internet-savvy population, Singapore sees a meteoric rise in the number of “freelance models”. Without any training or experience, some of these girls set up profiles in well known online model directories. Those who want a “headstart” might get in touch with well known photographers though their friends. They would then pester these photographers to do some sophisticated themed shoot to enhance or build up their portfolios. Many of these girls are tertiary or even secondary school students wishing to earn a bit of pocket money. But there are also a few amongst them who have bigger dreams. They don’t just want to earn some pocket money. They want to be featured in magazines (even if they are not paid for the shoot) with the hope that the exposure and publicity will propel them to stardom.
It is now commonplace to see a group of photographers converging on a frail, young lady, smiling, posing and trying her best to respond to “look here” in places like Fort Canning, Sentosa, Botanic Gardens, Emerald Hill or some disused railway track. Such organised shoots may be quite a spectacle, but they are affordable to most amateurs. Over the years, many organisers have become quite well-known and popular.
Popularity imparts power to these organisers, especially those who have acquired extensive wardrobes, a studio and even registered a company to train, groom and promote aspiring models. These folks can shoot professional-looking portfolios for aspiring models. They become the Jack Neos of their industry, able to make convincing promises of turning clueless newbies into the next Fann Wong. Many starry-eyed teenagers will see them as a ticket to their dreams of stardom. The rise of these potential star-groomers also results in competition. Even small professional fraternities are not immune to backstabbing and other malicious, vindictive attacks. What more can be said about photoshoot organisers?
I expected disputes, between models and photographers, photographers and organisers, models and organisers to arise every now and then. I was not even too surprised by some of the crimes like blackmail committed by some photographer wannabe, but nothing prepared me for the current dispute between Photographer M and Photographer R which escalated into a “grand exposure” of some of the dirty secrets within the industry.
Photographer R who is on the offensive, dedicated a big part of his Facebook page to vilifying the Photographer M. R took great pains to collect “testimonies” from victimised models in the form of chat screen captures. Many of the names of the accusing parties have been blocked out, making them effectively anonymous. Some of the jucier details include models accusing the photographer of making them spend the night in his studio with him. Many accused him of touching them and adjusting their clothing during the shoots, asking them to do nude shoots or asking them to change in the open. But what I find most deplorable, are the use of screensaves from private chats between 2 people to malign.
Perhaps the most shocking secret is revealed by a model who claimed that M complained about the appearance of pubic hair from a model’s bikini and he went on to shave it. Quite disingenuously, M claimed that he only pulled down the bikini by 5mm and only the razor touched the girl’s body. He also posted explanations on some of the things he did. Some (like impersonation, mistaken identity and girls being fickle) are quite plausible. Some are more like lame excuses for touching and taking advantage of the girls – something which many men who are swollen with pride and the feeling of power would do.
A model who supports M claimed that it’s common in the industry. Of course, it is not common in the industry, but it can certainly happen between a big time photographer and an ambitious, aspiring model. What happens in this case is that M turns out to be not so big time and the models regret their sacrifices, hence claiming that they have been victimised.
Actually, this whole saga only attracted widespread attention when R accused M of breaking the law by shooting nude pictures outdoors – apparently on St John’s Island. The model involved made a police report saying that her “private” photos were used without her permission. M even accused the R of defamation.
When challenged for more objectivity, R insists that he is doing the industry a favour by destroying a bad apple. While I can’t agree with some of the unhealthy practices by M, it seems more than a little likely that the “victims” were not entirely blameless. Of course, I can’t agree entirely with the R either. Even though he seems to have a lot of supporters, it deplores me to see that he has used screen captures from second and third party private chats to illustrate his point. It makes me wonder what lengths R will go to to discredit M or for that matter, anybody who happens to offend him. A brief exchange with R on Facebook reinforced some of my reservations about him. It’s an ugly “business”.
I feel that there should be more objectivity in his supposedly “noble” effort to bring awareness to the community, but his incessant, one-sided attacks focussed only on one individual, makes us wonder if he has any hidden agenda. M has insinuated that R is jealous of him and longs to poach his models/business. At this moment of writing, R‘s Facebook page has 862 likes while M‘s page has 1586 friends. An article in Wanbao in which he boasted that some of M‘s models have gone over to his side and their “market values” have increased as a result seems to tell us a little more than what R may have intended.
So are R‘s intentions purely to warn unsuspecting young models against a predator? Or does he have other plans in mind?
With a growing community of portrait photographers, freelance models and photoshoot organisers, friction is bound to occur. In retrospect, I should have seen that it’s only a matter of time that something like this would erupt. When it does, there are many ways to deal with it and I think going to the press and the police will not do any good to an industry that thrives on the freedom to dream and create.