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Ambassador James Wise with Governor Tri Augkaradacha in 2011

Australian Ambassador to Quiz Phuket Governor About Weapons, Tourists' Safety

Sunday, June 24, 2012
PHUKET: Australia's Ambassador to Thailand, James Wise, is likely to press for dramatic changes on Phuket when he visits the popular holiday island later this week for talks in the aftermath of an Australian tourist's murder.

He will be telling the Phuket Governor, Tri Augkaradacha, and the Phuket Police Commander, Major General Chonsit Wadhnawarangkun, that it's time for action to make Phuket safe.

Support has already come from Thailand's Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, who recognises that better policing is needed to protect visitors - and her country's tourism industry.

The suggestion is likely to be made during the visit to Phuket by Mr Wise that more frequent checks should be made for guns and knives - and that police confiscate all weapons from all Phuket tuk-tuks immediately.

Mr Wise meets Phuket's Governor and Phuket's Police Commander with Australian honorary consul, Larry Cunningham, on Friday, nine days after the knife murder of Australian Michelle Smith in a bag-snatching gone wrong.

When Mr Wise met Governor Tri in May last year, Governor Tri promised to solve the continuing jet-ski scams. He also undertook to oversee a review of the current fares being asked by Phuket tuk-tuks and taxis, with an intention of lowering the cost for travellers.

Mr Wise's meeting last year with Governor Tri was followed by one of the regular meetings between Phuket honorary consuls and Phuket's top administrators and police.

In normal circumstances, Mrs Smith's killing and the drowning of eight tourists in the space of a month and a day on or near Phuket would have been raised at the next meeting of Phuket's honorary consuls.

However, because of lack of action to fix the problems raised time and time again at the envoy's meetings with Phuket's governor, the three-monthly meetings have been allowed to lapse. No date was set at the last meeting in February for the next meeting, which should have taken place in May.

Rip-offs by Patong's jet-ski operators, excessive fares charged by tuk-tuks and illegal taxis, thuggish behavior and unpunished incidents of violence . . . nothing has ever been done in reaction to the envoys' constant stream of complaints relayed on from tourists and expat residents.

Phuket's Governor Tri was due back from China at the weekend after collecting the Olympic flag for the Fourth Asian beach Games, to be staged on Phuket in 2014.

He will meet Indonesia's Ambassador on Monday, when assurances are once again likely to be sought about the safety of tourists on Phuket.

A murder and eight drownings since May 18 on and around Phuket hardly encourage visitors to come to Phuket during the monsoon season.

Visitors must be properly protected from dangerous ''rip'' currents at the beaches, from whitewater rafting capsizes and from the violent consequences of uncontrolled youths and other thugs or - as Prime Minister Yingluck realises - they will go elsewhere.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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I'm afraid you cannot just expect to wave a magical wand and make these problems dissappear. Crime rate in Phuket is noticebly on the increase and the Police for whatever reason are unwilling to dedicate their time to solve outstanding crimes, only when public opinion forces them to start doing their job. I cannot see how you will be able to change this mind set. With the recent events, and others, I find it very hard to believe that things will improve in the foreseeable future.

Posted by reader on June 24, 2012 11:59

Editor Comment:

Nothing will change unless you and others like you believe that it can.

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... and that police confiscate all weapons from all Phuket tuk-tuks immediately.
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What a crazy island we live in when police are encouraged to confiscate these weapons ONLY AFTER the death of a tourist. Many drivers carry weapons - and use them!

If police did their job proactively, and carried out spot searches on tuk-tuks and taxis, then this island would be a lot safer place for all to live in.

Police - Do your job now, regardless of how prominent the victim is. Burmese, Thai, tourist or expat - all deserve the level same of protection from crime in Phuket

Simon

Posted by Simon Luttrell on June 24, 2012 12:06

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Good thing that the ambassador will put pressure on the Phuket Governor, but as things are then it is probably better to use other channels on a higher level and go to the PM instead.

Posted by Bjarne on June 24, 2012 12:07

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Embassy warnings seem to put a definitive pressure on the Thai government, as seen in the last Bombing in Bangkok when the American embassy warned US visitors and residents about the terrorist threats.

I guess if foreign embassies were all issuing warnings about violence and rip-offs in Phuket the local authorities would have to do something.

But I think they don't really see that as an issue big enough either. They might show up once in a while and put up a show when a story like Ms Smith's makes the headline but it's just business as usual for them too.

Posted by Claude on June 24, 2012 13:22

Editor Comment:

Random violence happens everywhere, and not as much on Phuket as in most other places - hence the alarm at this murder.
Travel alerts are out of the question because they hit travel agents and tour operators in home countries, too.

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Strange to be agreeing with Ed but Phuket is a lot safer than any major city and most tourist areas in Australia.

Posted by Arthur on June 24, 2012 17:41

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I thought it was a case of not enough police, and those on the beat overworked in a Thai way, hopefully the government will finance more police for Phuket which will help, unfortunatly cowards are everywhere as with the murder case, two men targeting women, hope the bib pop them.

Posted by coxo on June 24, 2012 17:55

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Editor Comment:

Nothing will change unless you and others like you believe that it can.

My Comment:

Thank you editor. Lets keep believing that we can achieve the dream. Lets keep working for this in a smart way. We know it will take time and may not be easy, but its worth every effort. We might not get it perfect, but those of us who beleive in the future of this pretty island/province can put forth all our intelligence improving law and order... Thanks for your good comment and great efforts.

Posted by Jake on June 24, 2012 20:43

Editor Comment:

Your sincerity shines through, Jake.

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(moderated)
A new management team from BK with the skill set and strength to run a major major business asset of Thailand and it's people is a must now they will bring the strength and skills to deal with these mafia thugs the rampant corruption,waste and incompetence that has been going on for what seems like forever and ever.

Posted by Scunner on June 24, 2012 23:39

Editor Comment:

You are still looking for people to blame, Scunner, rather than trying to find solutions. As you say, it's been going on ''forever.''

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Well they could start by removing all those market tables that sell weaponry, you walk down the street and there are tables with stun guns, flick knifes, mace, ninja stars etc...everywhere. All for open sale !!!

i don't understand why these are all there? How about removing all these, even for sale in Jungceylon ! and all the other stuff, just simpley ban all jet ski off the island, meters in tuk tuks, or baht bus like pattaya. It all really could be done quite ezy, its just all the BS & tea money that makes these issues stay. And thats a fact !

Posted by phill on June 25, 2012 08:23

Editor Comment:

Good point. An Australian woman who came to Thailand recently for a breast enhancement went back with a more dangerous kind of arsenal in her luggage - flick knives, knuckledusters electric prods etc. All of it stuff that shouldn't be for sale anywhere.


Sunday October 2, 2022
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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