BANGKOK – Surat Phaeoket a farmer charged with serious fraud offenses for crowdfunding the purchase of his buffalo Tongkum, went Thursday to Khan Na Yao police station after he was summoned to present evidence that he had pure intentions in buying Tongkum.
After spending two days apart from his beloved buffalo, which authorities seized earlier this week, Surat Phaeoket rushed to the police station and past the media to cuddle the animal.
Surat Phaewket travelled from Chai Nat province to meet police at the station in Bangkok’s Kannayao district with his lawyer, Ratchaphol Sirisakorn, after police had threatened to issue a summons for him.
Mr Surat was hired by Boonlert Kanpakdi to take care of Thong Kham the buffalo in Nuen Kham district of Chai Nat while his field was flooded. Surat later posted a message on his Facebook asking for donations to buy the animal.
“I never asked for people to send money to save Tongkum’s life. I asked for donations to help me buy him and have him with me forever,” Surat said. “If no one had helped me, I would have nothing left but memories, and my dreams of having a buffalo would be gone. When Tongkum’s not with me, my heart’s not with me.”
“Tongkum! My child! Let’s go home together,” the farmer said while putting his forehead on Tongkum’s snout before leaving to give his testimony to the police.
Surat and Tongkum went viral earlier this month for their smiling online selfies. After the farmer crowdfunded and successfully bought the animal for 100,000 baht, Boonlert Kanpakdee – Tongkum’s former owner and a lesser local official in Chai Nat province – called Surat a beggar Monday for his online appeal.
After the farmer crowdfunded and successfully bought the animal for 100,000 baht, Boonlert Kanpakdee – Tongkum’s former owner and a lesser local official in Chai Nat province – called Surat a beggar Monday for his online appeal.
Boonlert, accompanied by a famous ultra-conservative lawyer, handed the 100,000 baht to police. Tongkum was seized Tuesday and Surat was charged.
Kannayao police chief Pol Col Sing Singhadej said on Thursday investigators had checked Mr Surat’s bank account and found 160,000 baht had been transferred to him, 100,000 baht of which was later withdrawn.
Mr Surat said on Wednesday that he misunderstood that the owner wanted to sell Thong Kham for food and promised to return all donations.
The case impacted the buffalo as the animal has been transported from Mr Surat’s house to the Kannayao police station as evidence. The buffalo is now kept in the premises of the police station.
Mr Surat met Thong Kham again at the police station and said he wanted to take the buffalo back home so he can tend to it.