PHUKET: The Chinese Ambassador's forceful speech today citing corruption and misuse of power is likely to finally bring action to fix Phuket's problems.
His Excellency Guan Mu has too much influence to be ignored. He can turn off the tourism tap. It's as simple as that.
For all its vexed issues, Chinese tourism is a huge part of Phuket's future. Phuket can't afford to have that tap turned off.
If the ambassador says that warnings and safeguards for tourists must be improved, then it's virtually certain that Phuket authorities will do as he suggests.
If the ambassador says that police and immigration officials need to cease their corrupt activities, then those activities must cease.
Many of Phuket's tourism related issues can be resolved. All it takes is the willpower.
The ambassador's speech is a powerful reason for Phuket's wishy-washy authorities to find some willpower.
Corruption has to stop, not just among police and Immigration but across Phuket. Corruption puts power in the wrong hands. In the wrong hands, Phuket suffers.
It's to be hoped that the European ambassadors, meeting on Phuket in just over two weeks, will also now follow the Chinese ambassador's gloves-off approach.
For too long too many envoys - with rare exceptions - have couched their criticisms in diplomatic terms and left it to the local Phuket administrators to sort. That was never going to happen.
There are a few outstanding exceptions among the local administrators, people of real character.
But when faced with the choice between enforcing the law or covering up the problem, most Phuket administrators choose to compromise.
The result is that nothing works as it should. Everything is broken. The phrase ''duty of care'' is virtually unknown among many people who work in tourism on Phuket. Money rules.
The ambassador's suggestion for a committee to oversee the changes that Phuket tourism needs is a good one, especially if some of the local business leaders and one or two expats are allowed to join.
Phuketwan speculated that the ambasador's visit would be the beginning of a New Deal for tourists on Phuket, a two-way treat: treat the tourists well and the tourists will treat Phuket well.
We think we got it right. We hope the ambassador's words this afternoon were the sound of the New Deal rolling.