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PATHUM THANI: When it comes to traditional Thai massage, some like it harder than others. But few people suffering from stiffness or poor circulation want to emerge from massage treatment looking as if they had just gone five hard rounds in a Muay Thai fight – which was the type of service a renegade massage parlor in Pathum Thani had been offering before it was closed down by the local health officials. Following a September 16 raid by health officials and a 10-man police unit, the facility, offering both traditional Thai massage and medical treatments, was shut down. Its owner, 46-year-old Surapon Hattapornsuwan (whose last name means “gifted hands”), and four other employees were taken into custody on charges that included operating an unregistered business and practicing medicine without a license. One customer, 40-year-old Somchai Srisang, was quoted as saying, “I was recommended by friends to visit the parlor because I was suffering from respiratory problems and had trouble breathing. They said a massage treatment and herbal therapy would put me right. “When I got there, K. Surapon took my pulse and declared that I was suffering from an allergy. He told me he would be happy to treat me for free, though he asked me to put a donation in a collection box to help pay for the facility’s rent.” It was not reported just how much, if anything, K. Somchai “donated” for his free treatment, but one must suspect it was a bit on the low side, because after he lay on the massage bed, K. Surapong proceeded to stamp on his chest then hit him in the head until he was covered in welts and bruises.