“Don’t go out after dark or Si Quey will eat you” is a refrain nearly every Thai, including yours truly, heard more than once growing up.
But a theory currently picking up steam – namely, that Thailand’s most notorious serial killer and cannibal, known for eating childrens’ innards, was actually framed – may challenge the entire basis of the boogeyman so many of us grew up fearing.
Though the frame-job theory has long been debated, its popularity skyrocketed this week after a lone voice on Twitter called for the removal of Si Quey Sae-Ung’s shriveled, formaldehyde-preserved corpse from its current home: a glass box inside the capital’s Siriraj Medical Museum, aka the “Museum of Death.”
“In this day and age, we all know that Si Quey did not kill and eat human’s innards but was framed by someone powerful. Yet Siriraj Museum still displays his corpse along with the label “cannibal,” Twitter account ChangeSiam wrote earlier this week.
“Even the dead don’t get justice,” he added.
ปัจจุบัน เค้ารู้กันหมดแล้วว่า ‘ซีอุย’ ไม่ได้ฆ่าและกินเครื่องในมนุษย์ ซึ่งเกิดจากการถูกใส่ร้าย
แม้คนตาย ศพก็ยังไม่ได้รับความยุติธรรม pic.twitter.com/n2tDB9MbXL
— กล้าเปลี่ยน \7 (@ChangeSiam) May 12, 2019
The tweet quickly went viral, bringing forth amateur investigators from all corners of the interwebs to roll out their gathered evidence of the alleged killer’s innocence. It also breathed new life into a change.org petition, launched more than a year ago now, seeking to “restore the dignity” of Si Quey by getting him out of that awful glass box.
Given the newfound attention to the case, the number of backers for the petition has skyrocketed in the past couple of days, gaining at least 5,000 signatures this week alone. As of press time, more than 11,000 people have signed.
“Si Quey has never killed anyone. It’s true! Even the deceased’s relatives … have always said that it’s not him. Si Quey was pressured to make a false confession. Police told him he’d get to return home to China as a reward for confessing,” Twitter user Yongsunxpinkjr wrote, citing evidence gathered by the Facebook page “Poetry of Bitch.” (Editor: Like we said: lots of amateur investigators out there.)
However, not everyone is convinced by this theory.
“How can we prove that Si Quey is not guilty? Just saying ‘everyone knows’ is not sufficient evidence to pardon the dead. This is a huge accusation you’re making. If you keep going, you might get sued,” Twitter user iGimme said in reply to ChangeSiam’s tweet.
Given that the murders in question took place about seven decades ago, the possibility of a lawsuit seems kind of slim, but iGimme does have a point. What makes these folks so sure?
The Si Quey story
Si Quey Sae-Ung was a Chinese immigrant who relocated to Thailand in 1946, where he became a gardener in Prachuap Khiri Khan province. Before then, he was a soldier who fought against the invading Japanese during World War II.
In film adaptations and retellings of Si Quey’s story (of which there are many) his battlefield experiences are often cited as triggering his taste for blood. Some even suggest he ate his fallen comrades during this brief military stint.
Thai police charged Si Quey with abducting and murdering at least six children from 1954 until he was arrested in 1958, all of which he confessed to at trial. He further told investigators he would cut up and eat his victim’s organs for it was delicious – his favorite being the heart.
Quey’s trial, which concluded with him being found guilty and sentenced to death, lasted nine days. He was executed by firing squad in September 1959.
The bullet hole left by that execution – now filled in with paraffin – remains visible on Si Quey’s corpse in the forensic museum.
The skeptic’s take
There have always been skeptics about the official story, particularly given the fact that the high-profile murders had placed police under intense public pressure to find a killer.
Many believe Sie Quey was an easy scapegoat, because he was a member of a marginalized ethnic group. His case occurred during the Cold War, when the US-aligned military dictatorship that ruled Thailand demonized China due to concerns about the growing influence of communism. At that time, Chinese immigrants were often looked down upon and discriminated against by locals.
Those who believe in Si Quey’s innocent also say his inability to speak Thai played a role in his swift prosecution and conviction.
Furthermore, many pointed out that Si Quey was paraded through the streets and labeled a monster in newspapers before his trial even started. The media, they argue, turned the story into such a terrifying cautionary tale that it still resonates fear even today.
In a post made yesterday morning, Facebook page Poetry of Bitch, which has culled together “evidence” of Si Quey’s innocence from a variety of news sources and investigations, went one step further — naming the supposed “real” killer.
Their suspect, they say, is a Thai man named “Gleang,” who they claim was the brother-in-law of a respected deputy district chief.
The Facebook page alleges that Gleang has a history of mental illness and was actually identified by name by one of the survivors of a supposed Si Quey attack. Pieces of a child’s liver and was also allegedly found in Gleang’s pockets.
We should probably explain at this point that pretty much all of their hot new information came courtesy of a Thai PBS documentary that aired last year. Locals interviewed for the PBS segment, who lived near Si Quey back when the killings occurred, also pointed their fingers at this mysterious Gleang.
Gleang, however, was never questioned or prosecuted. Dun dunnn.
“Si Quey was our employee. My mom spent a lot of time with him… he was a shy and quiet man. He would never take advantage of anyone,” Wanapa Tonshim, See Kuey’s former employee told PBS.
“My mom loved him. It just doesn’t make sense for him to be a child killer,” she added.
So what do you think? Is there enough reasonable doubt surrounding Si Quey’s case for police to officially revisit it? Do you think his corpse should be removed from that sad display case? Let us know in the comment section or tweet at us at @CoconutsBangkok.