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Commander Chote Chawanwiwat, intent on improving Phuket

THE BIG CLEANUP Increasing Police Will Improve Phuket Safety, Says Phuket's Top Cop

Thursday, July 18, 2013
PHUKET: Providing more police would be a sensible way for the Government to make Phuket safer and more secure, the Commander of Police on Phuket, Major General Chote Chawanwiwat, said yesterday.

He was speaking after learning that a campaign is about to begin to address the serious issues troubling tourism on Thailand's most popular holiday island.

''Phuket is a safe place for tourists and residents but it certainly still has problems,'' he told Phuketwan.

The blunt-speaking veteran - one of the few police to volunteer for service in Thailand's troubled southern region - says that Phuket is ''very different to other parts of Thailand.''

Phuket police had equipment and technology but lacked the manpower to deal with an island where tourists, illegal and legal workers and residents from other parts of Thailand were not counted in the national government's budget calculations.

The result: Phuket has far fewer policemen than it needs, with just 1100 officers to serve a population that tops one million in some months.

''When there's a big newsworthy crime, there's a lot of interest,'' the commander said. ''That interest lasts for as long as the big story makes news.

''When the noise dies down, so does the Government's interest. At other times, the Government shows no interest in safety and security, or the number of officers.''

Commander Chote said the number of police stations on Phuket had recently grown from eight to 10 but the new stations were cramped and there generally wasn't enough work space for officers.

''The question has to be asked, what good are 300 low-quality security cameras for all of Phuket?'' The commander knows how valuable good, plentiful cameras can be from his time in the south.

Commander Chote said the police had also tried to work together with local Phuket authorities on communty safety programs.

''We have tried to involve local councils and the business community, but basically, nobody cares,'' he said. ''It's a shame, really.

''As for Bangkok, it;s promotion, promotion, promotion to bring greater numbers of tourists without thinking about their obligations.

''What the government needs to bear in mind is, how many tourists will come if for some reason there is the perception that safety and security have deteriorated?''

Commander Chote says the campaign by the Department of Special Investigations and the Tourism and Sport Ministry to wipe out crime and fraud was good and he was looking forward to hearing how Phuket police could help.

Comments

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This commander Chote knows clearly what's wrong with this place. It seems that it hurts him to realize that local councils don't care. This is going on for too long. 1100 police men for 1 million people. That is 1 for over 900 people. No wonder there is crime all over the place.

Posted by Charles on July 18, 2013 15:41

Editor Comment:

Actually the remarkable point about Phuket is that there isn't more crime. With so many tourists and workers who are trying to better themselves and find a new life, only the real criminals (gold shop robbers who kill) and the directionless young (drugs, gang wars, bag snatches) really cause problems.

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" if for some reason there is the perception that safety and security have deteriorated? ''

IF ?

Dear Commander, that horse has long since bolted. I guess international news reports don't reach the Police HQ.

PERCEPTION ?

Wishful thinking. It's not a "perception", it's statistical facts, no matter how hard the local authorities try to hide them.

Be it not publishing traffic accident casualties or drowning victims statistics anymore, or trying to coerce tourists to admit wrongdoing when authorities messed up themselves as was the case with the French couple with Phuket immigration.

Or just simply not bothering to investigate at all, as was the case of Mr Trotnow being beaten into a coma by a pack of Tuk-Tuk drivers.

Too bad they can't manipulate the Embassy statistics, but at least they resort to the 2nd best option and delay passing information of arrests or deaths to them for as long as possible, obviously hoping it would not be noticed.

In this society for a Thai to publicly defend a foreigner against another Thai, regardless of who's at fault, is tantamount to treason and a political and social suicide for any person in position of public power.

Remember what happened to the brave young Thai lady who tried to prevent tourists from being scammed in Phuket town ? Assaulted by Tuk-Tuk drivers.

Until that attitude changes, extra 3000 men or High-Tech cameras will not make one iota of difference.

Posted by ThaiMike on July 18, 2013 16:11

Editor Comment:

Most of the problems on Phuket are petty but annoying. major crimes committed against tourists are rare. The greatest physical danger to expats comes from other expats. It's the lack of reasonable fares and standards among tuk-tuk and taxi drivers that causes the largest number of complaints and leads to tourists going to other destinations. Drownings and road deaths - both of concern to police but not not within their power to resolve alone - require community commitment. Corruption and misused power . . . certainly work to be done.

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Having lived here for many years I think Phuket is one of the safest places in the world for physical safety. Remember that you have a greater amount of alcohol being consumed and a holiday (hair down) attitude in many areas and also a great many very poor people in the same areas as a great many wealthy people. The annoying thing is greed perpetrated by scams etc. Compare Phuket is any major developed country that has more Police and equipment and serious crime, fighting, mugging etc is very low. Therefore a positive for Thailand. But then there are the crafty heart breaking Thai ladies.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on July 18, 2013 16:43

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The greatest risks for the life of tourists and expats seem to be lifestyle, lack of common sense and of course the traffic. Police could be helpful with the latter if it the made an effort to enforce traffic laws, maybe that requires extra manpower and equipment.

Posted by Sailor on July 18, 2013 16:47

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Your comment that the greatest physical danger to expats is by othet expats is typical of you ,most of the violent articles in your paper seem to refer to Thai on expat violent crime normally carried out by taxi/ tuk-tuk drivers ,jet-ski operators and club or pub staff or "girlfriends".
Expat on expat violence is a very small percentage of the crime figures here going by your tourist paper and by the more note worthy english papers so your claim is a joke and is no doubt down to your run in with a certain country's immigration official.

Posted by Scunner on July 19, 2013 07:58

Editor Comment:

Expat on expat violence - shooting by Australians at Danes, murders of Hungarians by Hungarians, Italians by Italians, Swedes by Swedes, plus Americans killed by Brits - poses the gravest threat to expats on Phuket. Your invective is, as usual, biased and totally untrue. Why stay a miserable mushroom forever, Scunner? It's time you learned to read and reason clearly.

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"" if for some reason there is the perception that safety and security have deteriorated? ''

Wishful thinking. It's not a "perception", it's statistical facts, no matter how hard the local authorities try to hide them"

Looking forward to your statistical facts.

Posted by stevenl on July 19, 2013 11:12

Editor Comment:

If you know what the statistical facts are, steveni, please enlighten us.

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I agree that the most serious crimes (manslaughter and murder) inflicted on foreigners have an alarmingly high level of foreign perpetrators. Very next on my list of severity would be rape and that's where the local element already far outnumbers non-Thais as perpetrators.

An environment known for lax law enforcement and where nobody asks where you got your money from is a magnet for criminals from all over the world.

They make no bones about settling their disputes on Thai soil either. Some but not all victims had a criminal background themselves too.

It is also fair to say that violent crime is not as common on Phuket as it would be in many developed world destinations.

However, the big difference is that when a foreigner becomes a victim of a crime on Phuket and the suspect is a Thai, local Police and other authorities are utterly reluctant to help and investigate.

All too often CCTV cameras fail to produce identifiable images, no witnesses step forward, suspects are not rounded up for questioning and even the police officer stationed right across the spot where the crime happened saw nothing (Case of Mr Trotnow).

I've said this before and say it again.

This is something that comes as a huge surprise to most visitors who are used to unbiased and fair treatment by the police and other authorities.

I fully support doubling or tripling the current Phuket Police force but if those officers bound for Phuket come with the same mindset and bias, the situation is not going to improve for non-Thais.

Even this upcoming campaign by the DSI on Phuket is being "marketed" as a crackdown on illegal foreign businesses on Phuket in the Thai language media because the idea of Thai authorities cracking down on Thais cheating foreigners is simply unpalatable for the Thai public.

This explains the confusion about the true purpose of this campaign in different media outlets.

Posted by ThaiMike on July 19, 2013 11:41

Editor Comment:

Rapes of British citizens in Thailand are down this year on last year. For every accusation of a Thai being involved in tourist-related incidents, we hear of almost as many foreigners being the perpetrators.
Your comments are sometimes longer than the original articles. Please try to be relevant and concise, Dropping your unwarranted bias against Thais would help.

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"If you know what the statistical facts are, steveni, please enlighten us."

I am asking for the statistics, since ThaiMike claims that statistics proof that safety and security have deteriorated.

Posted by stevenl on July 19, 2013 12:06

Editor Comment:

The latest statistics on the road toll and drownings are figures from April 2012. At that time, the road toll was improving a little. As far as we are aware, the last murder of a tourist on Phuket took place 12 months ago. Thankfully, those kinds of serious incidents remain rare. A couple of Australians did beat up an American, then get beaten up themselves, and a little while before that, another Australian pair fired shots at a Danish man. Bag-snatchings occur every so often, just as in Paris, Rome, and every other tourist destination. Drownings and motorcycle crashes remain the real concerns.

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Thank you. This means there are no statistics available on deteriorating crime and security on Phuket. So ThaiMike's claims in that respect are nonsense.

Posted by stevenl on July 19, 2013 12:35

Editor Comment:

Well, you'd need to ask ThaiMike whether he has access to statistics.

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Does that mean you want me to write articles for PW ?

Point taken.

My opinions and POV are based on personal experience and on those of my friends, in addition to news reports.

They are mine and mine only. I'm always open for different opinions and quick to stand corrected when in the wrong.

- stevenl

You can start with the UK Embassy statistics reported right here on PW.

While at it, you could also go and ask the local authorities why they stopped to report traffic accident and drowning statistics.

I'm pretty sure it's not because the numbers would show a significant drop in them.

Posted by ThaiMike on July 19, 2013 13:02

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@ ThaiMike

Thank you, so no statistics available unlike your first claim.

Posted by stevenl on July 19, 2013 13:33

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- stevenl

I'm sorry. I should have concluded from your mental age that you expect to be spoon feed. Since links are discouraged, you will have to master some independent action.

Key phrases for Google:

Thailand most dangerous country

Better Australian tourist safety urged

You'll find articles in both The Nation and Bangkok Post for starters.

Don't throw your toys out of the pram just yet.

Posted by ThaiMike on July 19, 2013 15:55

Editor Comment:

Now now . . . articles in newspapers are often wrong, especially in the case of 'Thailand most dangerous country.'. I think it has since been acknowledged to be a gross exaggeration, like so many gross exaggerations of the past.

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- Ed

Yes, I was being a bit naughty. I promise not to make fun of stevenl anymore.

However both British and Australian embassy statistics are recent and confirm the increasing number of deaths of their citizens in Thailand.

Since it's statistics, they do not speculate on how those numbers came about but it's quite challenging to say safety and security has not deteriorated when the number of deaths go up.

Posted by ThaiMike on July 19, 2013 16:27

Editor Comment:

Drownings and the road toll are the main causes of deaths, and the main causes of the increasing numbers, plus the ageing expat population. Safety and security certainly, but nothing to do with crime. Numbers of rapes are down. Other numbers are stable.

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ThaiMike,
Still no statistics on your claim 'statistics show that safety and security on Phuket has deteriorated'.

Posted by stevenl on July 19, 2013 17:21

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- stevenl

Since I made a promise to Ed not to make fun of you anymore, I'm unable to offer you the kind of response you deserve.

You'll just have to figure it out from the clues already given.

Posted by ThaiMike on July 19, 2013 19:05


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