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Vice Admiral Saiyan Prasongsamret: Don't let the ''mafia'' back in

Don't Believe False Reports of Navy Taking Phuket Beach Mafia Bribes, Says Vice Admiral

Thursday, November 12, 2015
PHUKET: ''Mafia'' on Phuket were trying to extort money using the good name of the Royal Thai Navy, Commander Vice Admiral Saiyan Prasongsamret said today.

He was speaking after a meeting on illegal fishing at the Royal Phuket City Hotel in the island's administrative capital.

The vice admiral indicated that people who wanted to work as vendors on Phuket's beaches claimed they had paid the Royal Thai Navy 3 to allow them to do so.

Vice Admiral Saiyan said that the Royal Thai Navy had played a key part in clearing commerce from Phuket's beaches - as ordained by the National Council for Peace and Order soon after the military took control of Thailand in May last year.

The Navy had been involved in each of the committees set up to oversee ''beach arrangements'' in each of Phuket's three administrative districts.

Residents needed to help the committees and the Navy to make sure illegal commerce did not resume on Phuket's beaches, the vice admiral said.

''Don't let the 'mafia' attack public land,'' he said. ''Don't let them back again.''

Thailand's government had urged the Royal Thai Navy 3 to reduce conflict and work with the media to disseminate accurate information on Phuket, he said.

The Navy had not ceased its active participation and was ''still following up'' on ''influential groups'' who had been operating on Phuket.

''These influential groups will return if the community is not strong,'' the vice admiral said.

''Complaints that the Navy has sought bribes are untrue. We don't take bribes.''

Phuket has traditionally relied on the Royal Thai Navy for military protection.

But senior officers in the Army have shown greater interest in Phuket's safety and security since the Army had to truck 200 troops from a distant province to quell a riot by hundreds of locals outside Thalang Police Station on October 11.

At yesterday's meeting at Royal Phuket City Hotel, illegal drag net fishing - where a net is carried between two boats - was reported to be an increasing problem that Royal Thai Navy 3 intends to investigate more closely.

Declaration of Interest

Puketwan journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian are waiting until November 30 for the possibility of a verdict appeal by the Phuket Prosecutor's office to end. On September 1 a judge dismissed criminal defamation and computer crimes charges against the reporters that carried a maximum of seven years in jail.

The case was brought by the Royal Thai Navy over Rohingya trafficking allegations originally published by Reuters news agency. Long before the dismissal of all charges, a normal working relationship resumed between Royal Thai Navy 3 and Phuketwan

Phuketwan has long advocated creation of an independent Phuket Beach Authority to manage all of Phuket's beaches, free from commerce and corruption, with the Royal Thai Navy providing enforcement.

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