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Sunday 28 April 2019

Ball's funeral 'ticket' blues. Kong's a liar, but no thief

Grab me a ticket to the funeral
Former Bangkaew singer Pongpet “Ball” Sinsuwan is threatening to escalate his dispute with the father of his dead girlfriend after he warned him away from the young woman’s pending funeral in a row over supposed “hush” money.

Ball denies paying the father of his former girlfriend, killed in a fire at his family home late last year, 1 million baht as “hush money” in return for his withdrawing legal action claiming Ball killed her.

He says the payment, made in February, was to meet the costs of her funeral, and help out the father Banyat  financially, as he had fallen on hard times since her death.

Ball’s girlfriend, Supanee “Benz” Sinanantrakul, 27, died in a blaze at the singer’s two-storey family home in the Thanya Thani housing village, Lum Luk Ka, Pathum Thani, on Dec 16.

However, Mr Banyat claims Ball’s family agreed on a total sum of 3 million baht, and failed to pay the rest after he contacted police to say he was withdrawing his complaint against the singer.

In the aftermath of the fire, Mr Banyat, aided by activist Atchariya Ruangrattanapong, who accused police of possibly doctoring evidence in the case, claimed Ball had killed his daughter by setting fire to the house himself after an argument.

However, police, who have charged Ball with the lesser matter of carelessness causing death, found no evidence of such a plot. Forensic tests found the fire started with a faulty air purifier, Ball says.

Both sides are now accusing the other of going back on their word, with Ball denying he ever agreed to a 3 million baht payment, but accusing Mr Banyat of delaying his daughter’s funeral to punish him. He said Mr Banyat agreed initially to hold the funeral on March 5, but refused after he supposedly failed to come up with the rest of the money.

He did not offer the money in return for his withdrawing the complaint, as the police case against him is a criminal matter which cannot be withdrawn legally by either side, he said.

In a fresh round of media interviews last week, Mr Banyat said police had been in touch to say they had no need to gather further evidence and he was free to cremate his daughter. He had booked a temple in Sai Mai for the funeral rites late last week with the cremation set to be held today.

“He is welcome at the funeral, but only if he pays the rest... don’t be brazen enough to show yourself if you haven’t,” Mr Banyat growled. He denies Ball’s claims that he was leveraging his daughter’s death to make money, saying if he wanted to sponge off his daughter he would have done it while she was still alive.

Responding on social media, Ball said it looked as if he would have to buy a ticket to his own girlfriend’s funeral. “The money I gave you was for the funeral, but suddenly I have no right to attend it...and if I fail to pay extra for an entry ticket? I have protected your honour before now, but if I have to go before the media again I will mention things I have not revealed before,” he wrote, referring to Mr Banyat.

The dispute also centres on an agreement which Ball’s family presented to Mr Banyat in late February which said they were offering Banyat financial help, in return for which he accepted that his daughter’s death was an accident, agreed to withdraw complaints he had made alleging it was “murder”, and agreeing not to take further legal action.

Ball said Mr Banyat was unhappy with that agreement and came up with a hand-written supplementary pact of his own in which he said he had received 1 million baht, with further “help” to be made available subject to talks.

The singer said he signed it and did not ask police to attach it to his case file, even though it might help him at sentencing when the judge sees he had been willing to offer restitution to the victim’s family. The agreement Ball presented is silent on how much Ball’s family paid. Mr Banyat claims he agreed to leave out the figure at the request of Ball’s mother.

Mr Banyat has flip-flopped on the issue of whether Ball asked him to withdraw his complaint. At times he agrees he didn’t, but admits he went to see police anyway, but at other times insists Ball’s payment was obviously too much for a mere funeral so he must have had other motives in mind.

“If he says he never asked me to withdraw the case, why would he pay as much as 1 milliion? No funeral costs that much...the temple is charging only 35,000 baht,” he said in one interview. 

In the same interview, he said that even if he was not asked to withdraw his complaint, he did offer to go before the media with Ball to tell reporters he had misunderstood him and really he was a good person.

Ball said he has no need of such publicity, as the post-mortem showed Benz’s death was an accident.

“However, we were happy to offer further help if he needed it in future,” Ball said.

I’m a liar, not a crook
Isan singing star Kong Huayrai says he is happy to own up to being a liar, but draws the line at being called a thief.

Kong, also known as Akkharadet Yodjumpa, 32, says he is taking legal action against a Thai woman in Sweden, supposedly an old flame, who accused him of borrowing money and failing to repay it, and cheating a string of women admirers out of money and assets.

The dispute with the woman, who calls herself Jeab Leo Ratchatanawin on Facebook, came to light after Kong admitted earlier this month that he was a secret father to a young boy, aged 14 months.

Kong said he was relieved to finally be able to tell his fans that he is father to the boy, Nong Kai Jeow, after “lying” to everyone who asked. Kong came clean after being outed as a secret dad on a celebrity website. He posted a picture of the boy, born to his wife, Belle Kanittha.

However, in a social media post Kong also owned up to being a father to two other children by his first wife, whom he married when he was aged about 20, and divorced five years later. The news surprised even his close friends, who said they had no idea Kong was a father.

“At first I didn’t think I would tell anyone, and lied to everyone who asked as I was worried it would have an effect on my work. But now that it is in the open I feel relieved,” he wrote.

Kong is a rags-to-riches story from Nakon Sakhon who worked as PR for a beauty clinic and busker before finding fame as a recorded artist. A string of women have since come forward to clarify their role in his past, few of them with much complimentary to say, after netizens started digging.

Among them was Jeab, and look tung singer Nakwan “Kaew” Sakol, or “Aey” Patcharapon, who came forward to deny being the mother of the first two children. She admitted the pair were once engaged but it ended after she discovered Kong was also seeing Belle at the same time.

Kong agreed last week he had been unfaithful to Aey, with whom he also wrote and performed. “We were engaged in an Isan ceremony and I abruptly called it off when I decided to marry Belle. We haven’t spoken since then, though I gave her the 1.8 million baht dowry, which she split with me. I was a net idol, but not yet a fully fledged star.”

Asked about his relationship with his first wife, a university lecturer, he said he was just 21-22 years old at the time, and her pregnancy, which he initially tried to keep secret, resulted from youthful indiscretion.

“When she fell pregnant a second time, about four months in, I called her father, as she could no longer cover it up. He was shocked, as her life was just starting to take off. We married and registered the union, but it lasted just a matter of months.”

Since opening up about his family, his two older children had been teased at school. His first wife, meanwhile, was also unhappy, as it looked as if he was taking credit for raising the two older boys, who are in her full-time care, though he sends them maintenance of 10,000 baht a month.

Meanwhile, Kong’s manager has challenged Jeab, his critic in Sweden, to come back to Thailand if she has evidence that he had cheated women financially, and present it to police.

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