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Corruption Probe on Similans, Surin, National Parks North of Phuket

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
PHUKET: Officials are investigating a multi-million baht corruption racket involving tourists and entry fees at as many as seven national parks north of Phuket.

This week authorities in Phang Nga, the province north of Phuket, were told that the Ani-Corruption Commission would join the probe to weed out salaried government workers who are thought to be behind the scam.

The corruption is fairly widespread and simple to execute, officials told the meeting. Police from Region 8 headquarters were also in attendance, along with natural resources and anti-corruption officials.

Admission tickets to the seven national parks - including two islands spots, the Similans and Surin, popular with divers - are 200 baht for non-Thais and 40 baht for Thais.*

It's believed that tickets are copied and sold to overcome restrictions on numbers at some of the parks that are designed to maintain sustainability.

Checks on tourists' tickets within the parks uncovered the scam. Officials believe the 16 million baht income from the parks last year will increase substantially once the corruption is suppressed.

Authorities agreed on a two-part solution - the pursuit of those who are already employing the scam, followed by the introduction of better technology to make sure it cannot be repeated.

As well as on the Similans and Surin islands, investigations are to take place at Khao Lak-Lamroo, Khao Jampee-Taimuang, Moo Khan Rah-Khah Pratong, Sri Phang Nga and Ao Phang Nga national parks.

Vice Governor Supachai Luengsangtong is heading the investigation.

*We've since been informed tickets for the Surin and Similan parks are 400 baht for Thai adults/non-divers and 600 baht for non-Thai adults/divers.

Comments

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The money intended for the national park falls into the pocket of these gate bandits. Many tour companies accept half entrance fee if no tickets.

Posted by Hockey on February 1, 2012 10:31

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Will we finally be on a level playing field? I don't believe it! Phang Nga Bay is a horrible mess - will anything be dome to increase the number of staff to police the Hongs and the extensive mangrove damage, to stop monkey feeding, and come up with realistic kayaking, safety and nature protection training? Will properly trained staff patrol Ao Phang Nga? Corruption economics says that with a skeleton crew the corruption pie is split fewer ways - this means the only rangers in the park are collecting the corruption fees!

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2012 11:24

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"Admission tickets to the seven national parks - including two islands spots, the Similans and Surin, popular with divers - are 200 baht for non-Thais and 40 baht for Thais."

Tickets for Surin and Similan NP are 400 THB for Non-Thai adults/Non Divers and 600 THB for Non-Thai adults/Divers.

Posted by Hualan on February 1, 2012 12:07

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The here described corruption/draft scam is (at least for Surin and Similan) just the tip of the iceberg. Calculation:
Let's say 1500 foreign adults visit one of the above NP per day (which is a very low figure, it might be double the number easily). That's 600.000 THB per day. Maybe 500 of these visitors are divers, so an additional 100.000 THB. That's 700.000 THB per day only in entrance fees. During one month in the high season the income from NP tickets is 21.000.000 THB. Let's say the real visitor numbers are more like 3000 per day, that's a revenue of 42Mio THB per month. Only adults, only foreigners... The money that has been "wasted" over the years [perhaps] goes into the billions of baht.

Posted by Hualan on February 1, 2012 12:16

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This is also some dirty politics. The current head of the Similan park is the first clean guy in many, many years. He is an active diver, he works with the dive centers and tries to keep the staff following the guidelines.
However, as a new government is in place, and so much cash is at stake, things had to change. It will be very sad day to see the highest bidder move into the his position at the parks instead of the best qualified.

Posted by Khao Lak on February 1, 2012 17:08

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Khao Lak said, "However, as a new government is in place, and so much cash is at stake, things had to change. It will be very sad day to see the highest bidder move into the his position at the parks instead of the best qualified."

At last, someone on this board who understands how things really work in this country

Posted by lek on February 1, 2012 21:02

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Corruption here never I don't believe a word of it they are as honest as the day is long. They will have a full explanation for these anomalies being made ready now by banks of slick island lawyers as to why they are all driving brand new 4x4's and live in huge houses with millions in the bank on a government worker's pay.

Posted by Scunner on February 1, 2012 23:32

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I agree 100% about flagrant corruption by National Park Rangers but it has been set by politicians and political parties to get cashflow since too long time.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on February 6, 2012 11:44


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