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German Ambassador Dr Hanns H. Schumacher: 30 minutes enough

German Ambassador Delivers Blast, Walks Out

Monday, March 16, 2009
Phuketwan on a Diplomatic Bombshell

A DIPLOMATIC hand-grenade exploded outside the new Phuket Govenor's office this afternoon. It was not a good first day at work.

At 2.30pm, the German Ambassador decided he could wait no longer. He stood up then walked out.

Offered the choice of meeting with a vice governor or to wait another 20 minutes for Governor Wichai Praisa-Ngob, Dr Hanns H. Schumacher, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, decided he had waited long enough.

The appointment with the governor had been for 2pm.

The ambassador gave a brief interview to waiting media, then he and the Honorary Consul, Dirk Naumann, left Provincial Hall.

Dr Schumacher dropped the diplomatic hand grenade before he left by saying:

''I as well as other European ambassadors are about to investigate the situation that too frequently, our embassies are not informed when our nationals are either detained or die in an area of jurisdiction of any police district in Thailand.

''Thailand has signed the international convention on consular affairs and it has the legal commitment to inform the embassies as soon as possible.

''I understand that this is not so much a question of goodwill. The authorities in Bangkok are quite cooperative.

''But it has to go down, trickle down, to the local police authorities. This was an issue I would have loved to discuss with the governor.''

He later told Phuketwan that the problems were not particular to Phuket, and that Pattaya posed more problems in this regard.

But he did add that on the island, Patong police especially failed to inform embassies about arrests and deaths.

Last week's sinking of the MV Dive Asia 1, with seven dead and many Germans on board as well as others connected with the dive company, was not on the ambassador's list of topics for discussion.

When the issue was raised by Phuketwan, he said responsibility lay with the tourists themselves. Tourists should be wary and avoid vessels that seemed unseaworthy.

He added in conversation with the media: ''I think we all want, Thailand as well as Germany, to return to a situation when tourism was one of the most thriving business here.

''This is a beautiful country. It has many assets and I think it is very beloved, in particular by German citizens. We want to prepare the environment so it continues to be a favourite destination.''

The ambassador also wanted to talk about a case in the juvenile detention centre here.

This case probably involves a 17-year-old German who, according to police, has confessed to charges of sexually molesting young boys.

The underage suspect was paraded for the media recently with accused British pornographer and pedophile Dax J Young.

The arrests of the two suspects followed an investigation by the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) and Patong police.

The ambassador said he wanted to discuss the case in the juvenile detention centre with the ''commissioner of police, who was very helpful, I must admit.''

Governor Wichai also had a busy schedule for Tuesday, including a visit to the home of leading businessman Phummisak Hongsyok.

He paused long enough to let the media know that he plans to continue the policies of his well-regarded predecessor, Dr Preecha Ruangjan.

Meet the New Governor

New Phuket Governor a 'High Grade Diamond'
Welcome Photos Phuket's new governor brought cheers and tears today as he greeted Phuket officials. Phuket may have to wait to see but people from his previous province say he is a ''diamond.''
New Phuket Governor a 'High Grade Diamond'

Comments

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If the meeting was 1400 farang time, it would have been prompt at two pm. It it was 1400 Thai time, then sit back and relax and add an hour. Thai time meetings are scheduled an hour later than farang time. Be at ease here, this is a holiday destination, not the Porche factory. Deep breath and r e l a x.

Posted by Graham on March 16, 2009 16:48

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Graham, you are joking, I presume? If this is your honest feeling, I would so hate to try and do business with you. Please publish you surname so I know to avoid you. The ambassy was here on official diplomatic business, not for a holiday in the sun. That the governor could not attend as scheduled is an insult.

Posted by Patrick O'Rourke on March 16, 2009 16:56

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When the issue was raised by Phuketwan, he said responsibility lay with the tourists themselves. Tourists should be wary and avoid vessels that seemed unseaworthy
My god, shows how much he knows what's going on around here, this vessel was only 6 months old

Posted by Nick on March 16, 2009 20:45

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Perfectly correct and justified act from Dr Hanns H. Schumacher to teach this governor some manners. Thailand remains a banana-republic as long as a person at the level of a governor disrespects the appointments of this level.

Posted by Jouni T. Ollila on March 16, 2009 22:48

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Nick, age has nothing to do with it. If it was a bad design - top heavy - then it doesn't matter if it was 6 months old or 6 years old.

Posted by Mike on March 17, 2009 04:16

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(When the issue was raised by Phuketwan, he said responsibility lay with the tourists themselves. Tourists should be wary and avoid vessels that seemed unseaworthy.) This is almost the same as saying 'don't come to Thailand because if anything goes wrong, it's your own fault.'

Posted by Andrew on March 17, 2009 07:49

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Jouni,
This is not a banana republic this is a Kingdom.

Posted by David L on March 17, 2009 09:57

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In a roundabout - a diplomatic - way, yes, perhaps His Excellency was saying, "Come here at your peril". He appears to be advising tourists to be safety-savvy because certain industries are so poorly regulated and policed; you cannot rely on the officials or industries here to be up to standards expected and enforced in developed countries. Expecting this has nothing to do with interfering with a country's sovereign right to be a lazy, sleepy backwater if it so wishes. If Thailand wishes to be a major player and a world-class destination, then it should seek the correct role models to stop people thinking that it is - as someone else put it - a banana (or a pineapple) republic, which in many ways it acts as.

Posted by Laura Pensworth on March 17, 2009 13:04

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"Perfectly correct and justified act from Dr Hanns H. Schumacher to teach this governor some manners. "
What a bunch of imperialistic drivel. Do you honestly expect Thais to show respect for the childish antics of Mr. Schumacher ?Lol!

Posted by Bruce on March 17, 2009 13:16

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Yes , Thailand is perilous - in every way , so why is US State Dept not warning citizens about lack of oversight and regulation ?

Posted by Mustava Mond on March 17, 2009 14:29

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Bruce, I think you've been in the sun too long and at the same time had your head up your b*m too much, old dear. The days when such arrogance from a Thai governor, and the general manyana/mai pen rai nonsense are long gone, mate. Thailand/Phuket wants to be taken seriously.

Posted by Sambow on March 17, 2009 16:01

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To inform Embassies of their Nationals' deaths is a reciprocal concept. To be late for a national Diplomat whose country provides a lot of revenue for the Kingdom is rude. Nevertheless, The Diplomat's comments should be taken before his actions in this case, we should not forget how serious this matter is.

Posted by Kev on March 18, 2009 22:39

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"Tourists should be wary and avoid vessels that seemed unseaworthy." Get real!! How is the average tourist supposed to do that? Take a tour of the boat and check the expiry date of the fire extinguisher? Or the compression of the engine? Or check the hull for leaks? And what about the crew? Run a quick drug test? Check their licenses? - The tourist wants to spend money and have a good time; it's up to another institution to check the safety conditions of boats, buses, planes and rental cars.

Posted by Klaus on March 20, 2009 11:07

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Klaus, I think you are right. That job is the responsibility and should be conducted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Harbour Department. The T A T sure make it extremely hard to get a TAT Licence, but then it fails to carry out regular checks on its members. ???

Posted by Graham on March 20, 2009 14:29


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