Pattaya’s very public love fallout. Austrian and his Thai wife’s marital discord exposed. Elderly couple’s clash amidst abuse allegations, tempered by a police brokered legal deal. Shocking revelations coming at a time of public unease about the misbehaviour of foreigners.

A sad and poignant story of a Pattaya domestic squabble between an elderly Austrian and his separated Thai wife is being aired in the resort city. It comes as the bereft 53-year-old woman known as Ms Neng has sought justice. Forced to live in a temple, the Thai woman alleges years of physical abuse at the hands of the Austrian. Ms Neng claims that 79-year-old Helmut Zager has a drinking problem which is the root of his behaviour. In contrast, the Austrian has shown reporters a separation agreement signed by his wife last December. Witnessed by police, he claims to have honoured his obligations to the Thai woman, now in his past.

79-year-old Austrian retiree Helmut Zager speaks to reporters in disguise last week as he answered claims of abuse made by his 53-year-old Thai wife against him. (Inset right) His main defence was a typed agreement drawn up by Nong Prue Police Station on December 20th 2023, in which he legally separated from his wife and paid over a substantial settlement. (Inset left) 53-year-old Ms Neng has subsequently filed a criminal complaint against her husband alleging regular physical abuse leading to a broken arm.

Officials and police in Pattaya are in a quandary over a personal dispute between a foreign husband and Thai wife. The case of 79-year-old Helmut Zager, originally from Austria, and his Thai wife Ms Neng has been making headlines in the resort city.

In the heart of Thailand’s notorious playground for foreigners, comes a tumultuous domestic saga. Certainly, it is coming at an unfortunate time for any foreigner involved in such an affair. 

This is due to the media’s focus presently on misbehaving foreigners in Thailand. In particular those engaged in violence towards Thai women.

Current situation in Thailand is that the public and the media are very conscious of misbehaviour by foreigners towards women after a series of attacks

It comes after the notorious case on February 24 in Phuket of Uli Fehr or Mr David. That expat resident allegedly assaulted a Thai female doctor provoking national and local outrage.

Afterwards, there was an even more egregious case in southern Trang province. A 62-year-old retired foreigner brutally assaulted a frail 53-year-old woman. Significantly, both perpetrators were Swiss nationals.

Another even more serious assault by a Swiss man on a frail Thai woman as Uli Fehr has his visa revoked
Public anger boils over in Sunday protests in Phuket against Swiss man Mr Uli and private beaches

In short, this story in Pattaya involves a retired Austrian national. Certainly, Helmut Zager claims he is being falsely accused by his estranged Thai wife.

As the story unfolds in Pattaya through media exposés, a complex series of allegations and counter-narratives have emerged.

Mr Helmut claims he is already separated officially from his estranged Thai wife after honouring an agreement signed by both of them on December 20th 2023

Mr Helmut, the 79-year-old Austrian expat, claims he officially separated from his Thai wife.

Meanwhile, he claims this was after two and a half years together and signed by them in December 2023.

At length, the Austrian points to a signed agreement between him and his wife.

The document was witnessed and negotiated by police at Nong Prue Police Station in the city. The written agreement presented to reporters by Mr Zager is dated December 20th 2023.

In it, Mr Zager agreed to pay over ฿300,000 to his wife. In addition, he handed her a Kawasaksi motorbike valued at ฿500,000.

According to the European, the difficulties between the pair emerged in November 2023. Evidently, Mr Zager had developed serious health issues.

In particular, he suffered from high blood pressure. That month, he claimed that one day he thought he was experiencing a cerebral haemorrhage.

Consequently, he asked his wife to summon an ambulance. In brief, he claims she failed to do so.

Austrian changed his will after a health scare in November

Mr Zager claimed that his will had previously been made out in favour of his wife.

Subsequently, he visited a lawyer and altered it.

The incident had turned him against his wife. In turn, this provoked domestic unhappiness between the pair. Finally, they visited Nong Prue Police Station and arrived at a settlement brokered by officers there.

The pair separated and Mr Zager lived on his own peacefully, according to his narrative.

However, Mr Zager claimed his wife returned unexpectedly less than three months later, on March 10th 2024.

He told reporters this week that he returned home to find her before his property.

‘I love you very much, I want to be back with you,’ he claimed she said. However, he rebuffed her and she went on her way.

In contrast, Ms Neng told reporters that her husband had begged her to return to a short-lived happy reunion.

Thai woman alleges a repeated pattern of physical abuse by the Austrian and indeed that Mr Helmut pleaded with her to return to live with him on March 10th

Afterwards, the Thai woman claims she was beaten and abused further. Indeed, she claims a persistent pattern of physical abuse in the marriage.

Afterwards, Ms Neng related her counter-narrative and story to the media. In short, her husband had persistently beaten her until she was forced to leave him.

The Thai woman is 53-year-old Ms Neng Duangwao. 

Her story, marked by accusations of abuse, harassment, and broken agreements, reads like a lover’s tragedy. 

Undoubtedly it offers a glimpse into some complicated interpersonal relationships in Thailand between Thai women and foreign men.

Relationships between foreigners and Thai women more successful globally than normal marriages in Western countries with significantly lower divorce rates

Nevertheless, the record of such relationships both in Thailand and in foreign countries is a good one.

Significantly, this is because the divorce rate in Thailand is lower than in Western countries. 

Thailand’s divorce rate is 0.58 per 1,000. Undoubtedly it compares well to the 4.95 for the United States and a rate of 3.08 in the United Kingdom. 

However, research in the United Kingdom in particular shows that Anglo-Thai relationships can experience difficulties when there is a large age differential. 

The same research confirms that the divorce rate is lower than for the average marriage in the United Kingdom.

At the same time, this Austrian Thai couple have a significant age differential. Mr Zager is 26 years older than his ex-wife.

Thai wife, Ms Neng’s story of her marriage is of a harrowing ordeal of physical abuse at the hands of a man with a drink problem. Leading to a broken arm

Ms Neng’s narrative begins with harrowing claims of physical and emotional abuse. She claims she was regularly beaten by her estranged husband, Mr Helmut. She recounts enduring years of abuse.

The Thai woman pointed to Mr Helmut’s alleged problems with alcohol.

In short, she claims it exacerbated his aggressive and unpredictable behaviour. Despite professing love, Ms Neng claims to have suffered in silence.

She told police investigators of prolonged abuse while living with her Austrian husband. She claims it was this violence that undeniably culminated in her broken arm, an injury she attributes to Mr Helmut.

However, the Austrian denies any knowledge of how she suffered this injury. At this time, he suggested she perhaps suffered an accident while engaged in housework.

The tipping point, according to Ms Neng was indeed in December 2023. However, Ms Neng claimed she was already suffering from a broken arm when she suffered yet another episode of abuse. 

Hospitalized and vulnerable, she said she confronted the stark reality of her relationship. Afterwards, she sought refuge at Sai Sukon Temple in Khao Mai Kaew, Pattaya.

Woman has gone public with her plea for help. However, the Austrian husband’s defence relies on the police-brokered separation agreement and witnesses

It is from here that she took her plea for justice to the public.

In short order, she filed a complaint with Nong Prue Police Station. She alleged assault and sought legal protection from Mr Zager.

In contrast, Mr Zager presents a contradictory narrative. 

The expat who arrived in Thailand 15 years ago to take up residence, rests his case on the legal documentation provided. In particular, the signed agreement entered into between the parties on December 20th at Nong Prue Police Station in Pattaya.

That document, carefully crafted and authenticated, outlines a financial settlement and property transfer, signifying the termination of their marital ties.

Mr Zager asserts compliance with the terms therein. In addition, he dismisses all allegations of abuse.

Austrian insists he is telling the truth

Certainly, the Australian vehemently asserts his innocence of the claims of abuse made by Ms Neng.

He acknowledges their past relationship but contests its duration. He refuted Ms Neng’s claim of a five-year union, saying it lasted only two and a half years

Indeed, he casts doubt on the full story narrated by his ex-wife.

In truth, the Austrian’s version of events is supported by locals living nearby.

At length, they have confirmed the duration of the couple’s relationship. In addition, they suggest the outbreak of hostilities between the pair broke out late last year. 

At the same time, neighbours also confirmed Ms Neng had disappeared in late December 2023 until her surprise return on March 10th.

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