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Jet-Ski JJ, Winai Naiman: Now a 'I will ban jet-skis' warning

Jet-Ski JJ Arrested: 'I Will Ban Them' Warning

Thursday, September 10, 2009
WINAI ''JJ'' Naiman, 28, has been arrested and charged following an altercation about damage to a jet-ski in Patong that was telecast to an audience on the other side of the world.

The altercation, with British marines who were taking leave on Phuket, was filmed and became part of the premier episode of a television series that screened in Britain on Monday.

Having become instantly identifiable as ''JJ'' the jet-ski man, Mr Naiman now faces counts of demanding money with threats and possession of a weapon.

A special screening of the television show, 'Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand,' took place at Kathu Police Station today with Mr Naiman and local media and police as the audience.

The first in the eight-part series went to air on British television on Monday night, bringing concerns about jet-ski scams on Phuket to a climax.

Thais who have seen the show are shocked at the image of tourism in Thailand that it portrays, with the jet-ski incident and Phang Ngan drug-taking the most alarming in a series of incidents.

Phuket's Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob, has been urged by the Deputy Prime Minister and senior diplomats from Australia and Britain to crack down on the scams.

Concern at the highest level comes as a similar crackdown takes place at Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok, where gangs of illegal taxi drivers and extortionist tourist guides are being arrested.

Thailand now appears keen to clean up its tourism image, but the valuable industry will probably pay a high price for years of neglect and corruption.

The 'Big Trouble' series is likely to be sold for screening in other countries and will appear on television around the world for years to come.

Police at Kathu station said Mr Naiman had a history of involvement in similar incidents, in which operators claim large sums for pre-existing damage to jet-skis.

The governor, who went to the police station in Patong before attending a summit on the jet-ski issue, rejected an appeal from Mr Naiman's family for bail.

He said that although the weapon involved was a BB gun, intimidation of the kind shown on television was unacceptable.

''Jet-skis are allowed to operate as a sport in Patong, not as a business,'' he said. ''Unless this kind of activity stops, we will ban them all.''

Phuket's neighboring Andaman coast tourism provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi already have bans in place on jet-skis.

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UPDATE Phuket's governor tells tourist horror stories of jetski operators in Patong and makes it plain that the era of the scams and ripoffs is coming to a close.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


YES!!! another crackdown...... :) Thailand is so funny..... its not the land of smile anymore, but the land of laughter!! Trust me, in two weeks time, the crackdown is over, 2-4 innocent people in jail and business as usual.

Please don't say that i am negative or sarcastic, i have watched this things for 30 years!!

Editor: Change is possible. You just have to believe it.

Posted by KRR on September 10, 2009 15:17


Here is the link to JJ's story. Jet-ski, long-tail-boat, speed-boat, tuk-tuk and motorcycle-car rental are the main revenue of local operators who terrorize since too long time tourists, expats, Thai people and civie servants.
We just have to read local newspapers about local mobs surrounding police stations or building administrations to win at all cost by force.
Stubborn thousands local people destroy the Phuket paradise dream for those living in Phuket as well millions of visitors, Thais or foreigners alike.
We may wish our sympathy and support to Phuket Governor "Lucky Luck" to be strong enough to get rid the sooner the better of that local mafias "Thai Style" forever.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on September 10, 2009 15:27


looks like JJ has 'shot himself in the foot' with his antics. That scam really 'backfired'.

Posted by dirty_harry on September 10, 2009 16:30


Sorry, i feel the urge to comment again on this important issue:

REGARDING: "Police at Kathu station said Mr Naiman had a history of involvement in similar incidents" - So why they don't not do anything about it??

REGARDING "He (Governor)said that although the weapon involved was a BB gun, intimidation of the kind shown on television was unacceptable." ---- i translate this as follows " you know we don't care what you do here in phuket, but better ensure you are not caught by the media as you might get arrested as well!!"

REGARDING the Editor comment above on my posting: I can only wish and hope you are right and that i am wrong!

Posted by KRR on September 10, 2009 16:53


The fact they now have one man, to put a face on the blame game, is a total farce.. The reality is there's an army of Jetski jimmys, Tuktuk Tommys, Mocy Mickeys and most importantly Police Peters..

Its not about one person, its a whole system, routinely backed up by the police, in which local families with local connections can do as they please due to the fact that very few registered locals can vote in the Mayor of Patong. So to keep those families happy a system of patronage exists allowing beach road to be clogged with bike rentals, Jetski groups, and parked tuktuks. But rather than actually solve the problem they will just send Jimmy to the monkey house for a bit and claim they did their duty.

Typical reaction to preserve face, quickly find a scapegoat and pass the buck.

Posted by LivinLOS on September 10, 2009 18:07


I saw Jimmy (JJ) on Monday night and made a comment to him about what he would do when jetskis were banned. I thought I recognised his face from the Andrew Drummond piece but wasn't sure. He started up saying there were a few scammers that were making it hard for the honest ones like himself. That was received with a chuckle in the bar as we knew what he was like.
A year or so ago he came in to the same bar distraught that someone had stolen his jetski. Apparently he had run out of fuel off Patong, tied it up to a bouy and gone back for more. When he returned the jetski was gone as was the luxury yacht moored near at the time. When the patrons heard that they broke into spontaneous applause. Som Num Na Jimmy what goes around comes around.

Posted by Andyman on September 10, 2009 19:11


jj is called jimmy, he's half dutch half thai.... and going on from this what about the touts in and around soi seadragon.. i was there the other nite when "the big police man grissak" took some of there menu cards ( 1 heineken 1000 baht) if you go in the gogo bars.. He walked off and the ones that had hidden the menus down their trousers were straight back ripping the tourists off again... needs a police man there all night not just 10 mins... this needs sorting as well...

Posted by angry on September 11, 2009 09:44


I'm the Producer/Director of 'Big Trouble In Thailand' or 'Thai Cops' as it was known during production. I came up with the idea and shot it mostly myself, with the help of a Thai cameraman. And with the full co-operation of the authorities concerned in Thailand whom I cannot thank enough for their kind co-operation and trust.
Thanks for the write-up, by the way - a solid summary.
The sequence with JJ was NOT staged and I hope he is not in jail based solely on his contribution to the series. JJ was a willing participant and at the very least I am grateful for his contribution to the program. JJ was not paid to take part in the filming. In fact. he invited us along. Nor were the Royal Marines paid as I'm sure they would be happy to confirm. Nobody was paid. These days I'M lucky to be paid in TV - as the self-shooting P/D.
You want to see an email from my boss complaining how much the shoot was costing. That would shatter some illusions, believe you me.
I am grateful for the comments about the camerawork - someone on a forum somewhere called it "too good". Please pass that onto Vera Productions and Bravo, my employers.
I have had very little involvement and influence in the editing of the series - my job was to provide the content from the field, on the ground in Thailand.
We(my Assistant Producer, our Thai fixer and I) filmed JJ over a few days in Phuket. I met him in the lobby of the Patong Beach Resort where he was trying to get an Indian family to pay up for the damage he said their son had caused to a jet ski and a parasail tow rope he'd severed.
I had heard of jet ski scams - a fight that took place and was captured on camera in Chaweng, Samui - and I asked JJ if he would take part in our filming to tell his side of the story. I explained that we wanted to show both sides, that undoubtedly in my view foreign tourists must damage jet skis, there must be genuine cases. Based on this understanding JJ agreed to take part in our program. He also understood that our primary focus was British tourists in Thailand. JJ agreed to call us when he had a case which would illustrate that not all jet ski hire outfits are scam artists. That case turned out to be the Royal Marines who we'd also been following around Phuket during the visit of their ship HMS Bulwark. And when the call came JJ even sent a motorcycle and sidecar to pick us up. I have the photo of me in transit. We had a good working relationship with both the Royal Marines Military Police and JJ. In the end - when JJ called our fixer with the case - the two parties ended up coming together, and the rest is, well, all over Bravo and the internet. I simply filmed what unfolded (albeit with flair and agility :-)
If anyone is still of the opinion that the scene with JJ is faked then I will today provide links to the raw, uncut footage from the events of that day and our full interviews with JJ - before and after. If JJ must face trial by TV then at least let it be as fair as possible. For those who seem to profess a knowledge of the reality of 'reality' TV production - and I've lectured at university in it - comparing the unedited material with the broadcast version will be illustrative.
I set out to make 'Thai Cops' - a Thai version of the sorts of shows you see all the time in the U.S. and the U.K. - on a shoestring. If you were expecting "insight" as one poster on a forum observed the program lacked then you're unlikely to find it on Bravo I'm afraid - certainly as I define the word. These days you are also extremely unlikely to find insight anywhere on TV. So, as an old favourite UK TV show of mine used to say: "Go out and do something less boring instead".
Not to put too fine a point on it if Bravo were a pub in Pattaya it would be 'The Dog's Bollocks'. Or 'The Lazy Pig' where we popped in for a few drinks. See lads of 'The Lazy Pig'? I had no intention of "tripping you up".
I simply wanted to make an engaging - entertaining even - series about the work of the Thai police, the Brits who assist them and the tourists, preferably Brits, who unfortunately get into trouble in what can be a very foreign and culturally challenging country indeed. I will say that of all the countries I've been to Thailand is my favourite - by far. And that this series was even possible is for me why Thailand is so amazing and magical. I would urge people to travel to Thailand. Even the prisoners we interviewed in Thai jails aren't keen to return to the UK - either to serve the remaining periods of their sentence or when they're released.
Years ago I used to work on a US series called 'Real TV' in Los Angeles - probably the first caught-on-camera show which sold around the world making Paramount Domestic TV who produced it $25 million USD a year. I never heard anyone say it would damage America's reputation or put Brits off traveling to Disneyworld. Same goes for Hill Street Blues, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, America's Scariest Police Chases and The Wire.
And in the UK better not watch the nightly news - it's horrendous and would put off even the most hardy Korean from booking a fortnight for two there. But enough of Gordon Brown.
If you have any questions about the making of Thai Cops I believe in absolute transparency - so ask away.
And gird your loins for today's first online TV 'tutorial'!

Thanks everyone for your interest,


Posted by Gavin Hill on September 11, 2009 11:03


"The sequence with JJ was NOT staged and I hope he is not in jail based solely on his contribution to the series."

Ah, he's just lucky they were polite Brits and not rowdy U.S. Marines...'cuz, believe me, he would've been wheeled into the police station for questioning in wheel-chair if they WERE U.S. Marines.

Posted by Dragon on September 12, 2009 00:07


Mr hill, I like the documentary but what are you apologizing for?

You exposed them for the hypocrites that they are, and now you're trying to put that into perspective?

This JJ:
A classic case of believing your own lies. He asks a camera crew to follow him while he's extorting money, how vain.

Posted by dankje on September 12, 2009 00:36


Fantastic shoot Gavin. Congrats, had me glued to the seat! Now we are honeymooning there next week for 23 days. Damn, think we probably will stay in our lovely secure hotels rooms now ;) (Gibraltar)

Posted by Craig on September 13, 2009 22:16


About four years ago the Phuket Gazette carried a couple of articles about the problems of jetskis in Patong. The Govenor at the time stated that the jetskis would be banned but would take seven years. He never explained why it would take so long. Since then the number of jetskis has increased substantially. This is typical of Thailand and partically of Patong, admit there is a problem, state what will be done to eliminate it then forget it.

Editor: Think of it in human terms. The people involved have to be found alternative jobs. It's a lucrative occupation, so there's pressure on for more jet-skis, not fewer. A couple of governors back, existing owners were allowed to replace their machines, which brought an end to the phase-out idea. The scheme did not have the agreement of the operators. Any measure that does not have their agreement will be difficult to implement.

Posted by Sam on September 14, 2009 00:18


This story has spread through the world

Posted by mathias on September 15, 2009 04:52


All good and fair comments from both sides;
Lets look at it properly;
1.There are scams all over the world like this even worse.And under our noses I.E. Builders, car mechanics etc, may we go higher ? Our government.No different just a different ball, if know what i mean.

2.You or i may lean to this type of situation if we did not live in a cotton wool society and no safety net from government.

3.We can go on forever about JJ, let alone about the gem scam, hotel safe scam, motor bike scam, taxi scam, bar tab scam, girl drug tourist in hotelroom scam, in Thailand.

Of course, it is not acceptable.
And i do not defend these a*** wipes.

4."BIG TROUBLE IN THAILAND" is ao combind viewing, an hour each time, short and sharp to make an impact outside our comfort zone, it would not have the same effect as Clacton-on-sea, would it?

One example: A child goes missing in another country, World news for six months and forgetting 486 children and adults missing in Great Britain within that six months. That's media.


Posted by Rory on September 17, 2009 14:44


Delighted to see JJ has finally got his comeuppance.
A friend and I were in Patong Beach the last week of July 2009. We hired a jet ski off JJ. Surprise, surprise it wasn't working properly - it wouldn't turn properly.

We only realised this once we got in trouble about 100 metres out. We fell off the jet ski and tried to get on it again and couldn't. The engine was still running and we had to be rescued by passing jet skis. As far as we were concerned we had not damaged the jet ski.

Upon arrival at the shore we were ordered under no uncertain terms from the Burmese worker to wait for the return of the jet ski. At this point several heavies began appearing and surrounding us forcing us to stay put.

Eventually, the jet ski was carried in on the surf. The intimidation started there. My friend and I were then forced to sit on the back of the jet ski while carried by scooter to the shack like 'garage'. There we first met JJ who demanded we pay him 50 000 Baht through threats and intimidation.

JJ advised me a Dutch family had 'f*&^*ed' one of his jet skis and he described how he had dealt with them harshly. We were then driven back to our hotel by JJ and his younger tattooed Burmese heavy. En route the Burmese man advised me not to 'f*^% around' with JJ as he's Thai Mafia and he kills people. I was then told that tourists go missing in Thailand all the time.

Meanwhile, my friend, riding pillion to JJ could feel what he thought was a hand gun on the waist of his shorts. JJ dragged us around cash machines demanding the money becoming increasingly menacing.

Even the massage girls outside our hotel whispered to us 'don't go with him.' They clearly knew his reputation. My friend suffered a panic attack in our hotel room while we desperately tried to raise the 1000 pounts demanded while JJ paced our hotel.

It wasn't easy to raise the funds and JJ demanded our passports, at this point I managed to persuade him to accept my camera, I Pod and speakers as collateral to buy time. Thankfully, 50 000 Baht was Western Union transferred to us.

We called the Burmese worker to tell JJ we had the money the following day, he arrived on his bike followed by a darkened jeep with at least 4 men inside. Thankfully we had the cash, we were again driven to the shack like garage and the heavies which was away from the main town and at the end of a dirt path.

Once money was handed over the atmosphere had changed. Sadly, it did have a lasting effect on our holiday. Even worse, after speaking to both my friend's and my insurance company, who assured us over the phone that we were fully covered it was not the case upon return to the UK.

I can't believe a 30 minute jet ski ride has cost us 1000 pounds, and at certain points we thought it was going to cost us a whole lot more.

Posted by Paul on December 20, 2009 01:02


ok now the jet-sky are sorted out with insurance, but now in phuket are these tuk tuks park wherever they feel like and are never told to move on, they own these roads in Phuket, they are becoming a big problem.

Posted by Baz on January 2, 2010 13:03

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