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Deputy Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Interior, Prania Suwanrath

'Fix Phuket': PM's Man On The Spot Aims to Clean Up All of Phuket's Troubles

Thursday, May 19, 2011
Phuketwan Special Report

THE PRIME MINISTER has ordered a massive clean-up of all of Phuket's chronic tourism-related problems, a meeting of leading Phuket citizens heard this afternoon.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of the Interior, Prania Suwanrath, said he has been ordered to ''fix Phuket'' after a deluge of complaints from ambassadors and tourists. He will deliver a progress report in person to the PM next week.

In a meeting that lasted for almost four hours, Khun Prania today heard one person after another talk of what ails Phuket: tuk-tuk extortion, lack of proper law enforcement, self-interest among local administrators and corruption.

At the conclusion of the long meeting, Phuketwan asked Khun Prania how Phuket compared with Thailand's other tourism destinations - Chiang Mai, Samui, Pattaya and Bangkok.

''Phuket is the one that the Prime Minister wants me to fix first,'' he said. ''Some of these problems have been talked about for 10 years. Now we are going to change Phuket. Bangkok and big government plan to fix this.

''I will be back on Phuket every 30 days to assess progress until Phuket is working the way it should.''

Phuket's media has been asked not to identify the people who spoke at today's long session.

The five general areas that are being looked at first are: Rip-offs and transport, including tuk-tuks and jet-skis; Tailors and touts and the use of high-pressure street sales techniques; Traffic and the lack of a strategy for Phuket's growth; Garbage disposal; Local and international tourist guides.

Here are some highlights from today's session. Phuketwan will add more stories filled with the individual accounts of what Khun Prania was told today.

Phuket's Khun A ''If we can solve Phuket's public transport problems, 30 to 50 percent of Phuket's problems will also disappear.''

Phuket's Khun B ''We have a problem for example with the new bus station, which we can't open because the Mayor of Rassada doesn't like the proposed place for the buses to turn outside his home.''

Khun Prania: ''I will fix that. Tell him that I need the bus station open, and we have to sort this problem out quickly.''

Phuket's Khun C ''Thai law is excellent, among the best in the world. But law enforcement? They won't do anything. Greung Jai (obedience to the poweful). Money under the table. People in uniform have to pay large amounts to come to work in Phuket. Then they have to pay it back.''

Phuket's Khun D ''Yes, Phuket has mafia. There is the Thai mafia. There is the farang mafia. But bigger than those mafia are the mafia in uniform.''

Phuket's Khun E ''One of my guests went to a pub where he had one bottle of beer, and was billed for four bottles. He was beaten up. We reported it to the police station. Later I got a call from a senior officer saying, 'That pub belongs to some of my friends. Please drop the charge.'''

Today's meeting is the first for Khun Prania on Phuket following several meetings in Bangkok where Vice Governor Niwit Aroonrat was Phuket's representative.

The Interior Ministry mission to ''fix Phuket'' is a separate process to a simultaneous investigation on Phuket by the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission. The first is likely to bring changes, the second is likely to bring prosecutions.

Phuket's honorary consuls have accelerated the number of complaints being passed on to their ambassadors - and it now appears to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister.

The honorary consuls meet with Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha on Monday in Phuket City, with tuk-tuk extortion and jet-ski scams likely to be high on the agenda. Australian Ambassador James Wise also plans to attend.

Look for more articles coming shortly here on Phuketwan on what was said today. This could be a turning point in Phuket's fight against corruption.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Incredible! Someone is listening at last! I can only wish them the best of luck, but I won't be holding my breath.

To Phuketwan: Well done for your continued reporting of this subject.

Posted by Mike Boyd on May 19, 2011 20:11

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Years and years of institutionalised corruption and a progress report next week - I wonder how this will pan out!!! I'd like to see change but with continued jet-ski fiascos, the lack of parking along beach road in Patong and problems island wide this is likely to be just another publicity stunt.

Corruption here isn't just Phuket based - the rot goes all the way to Bangkok and vested interests up there. I realise the Editor will see this as negative comment but I WOULD like to see change - realistically though, its just another pipe dream.

Posted by Mister ree on May 19, 2011 20:44

Editor Comment:

Having heard most of what was said today, your pipe-dream days may be at an end. Wait until you read what we've yet to report . . . never make assumptions, Mister ree.

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I hope this comes to pass. I have visited your lovely island twice, and will, I hope come again this August,so it has been sad over the past three years to read of the corruption that happens.

Keep reporting Phuketwan, you could be making the change happen.

Posted by John G on May 19, 2011 21:32

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Fingers crossed, the powers that be that have failed this island dismally will be replaced by the type of people with the ability, strength and moral fibre to carry out the PM's orders.

Posted by Scunner on May 20, 2011 02:24

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I hope changes will come soon and all needed action and crackdowns will not only focus on foreigners, but also on Thai nationals.
There are some 'bad apples' in every corner and I sincerely hope any clean-up will focus on the problems and not on particular nationalities or races.
I look very much forward to learn more about all this and I also like to say thank you to PhuketWan. I fell that PhuketWan contributed a lot to the fact that some people finally need to wake up.

Posted by Mr. K on May 20, 2011 11:31

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I wish I could share all positive thoughts....

My Questions:
Who will act and crackdown?
Will it be the "fox" who crackdown on "chickens"?
Who will be counting the "chicken"?
Could it be that the 'fox' is the true problem?

Think about it!

Posted by Chicken on May 20, 2011 14:55

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That's great news - it sounds like things are beginning to move in the right direction in a big way.

With the election coming up, if there is a significant change in the government, I wonder what the impact to this clean-up effort might be. I will remain hopeful regardless of the election outcome.

Posted by Rick on May 20, 2011 18:02

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PW, Excellent report and this site is a welcome catalyst for this attention. Well done.

Posted by MediaWatcher on May 29, 2011 18:14


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