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Action over Phuket's jet-ski scams has been welcomed

Phuket Action on Jet-Skis Welcomed

Friday, January 20, 2012
PHUKET: Two of Phuket's most outspoken honorary consuls see the announcement of police action to end scamming of tourists by jet-ski and motorcycle hire operators as a positive sign.

The reaction of the honorary consuls - Germany's Dirk Naumann and Australia's Larry Cunningham - was obtained before news came that public transport and taxis and tuk-tuks would also be investigated by a team from Bangkok next month.

Mr Naumann said he was ''very positively surprised'' by the action on jet-skis and motorcycle hirers. ''I sincerely hope that deeds will follow words,'' he said.

Mr Cunningham said he was ''particularly optimistic'' that the encouraging words from Phuket's new Police Commander, Major General Chonsit Wadhnawarangkun, would be acted upon.

''Jet-ski scams are still occurring so it would be excellent news if they were finally halted,'' he said.

Phuket's honorary consuls, meeting every three months with Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha and senior Phuket officials, have been pressing for reforms on Phuket to make the island a more appealing tourist destination.

Two years of pressure in Bangkok from the European and Australian embassies appear to have helped, with growing outspokenness among business leaders on Phuket, to trigger the prospect of change in 2012.

Greater awareness of Phuket's problems in the two key departments - Foreign Affairs and the Interior Ministry - had already brought greater attention to tourist scams and Phuket's public transport needs.

On Phuket last year, Governor Tri set up four committees that aimed to resolve the issues if possible, or if the tasks proved too great, to refer those tasks to Bangkok.

The Interior Ministry's Deputy Permanent Secretary, Pranai Suwanrath, played a key role in overseeing the committees. Khun Prania has since been promoted to Permanent Secretary.

Using Phuket as the role-model for wiping out corruption in Thailand was welcomed by Khun Prania when he spoke to Phuketwan back in June.

Phuket's problems are easily listed - finding the solutions, however, is far more difficult.

What's made finding the answers more urgent has been an extraordinary series of events, good and bad, since Christmas.

December 26: Phuketwan reveals that Major General Chonsit is replacing Major General Pekad Tantipong as Phuket Police Commander.

December 26-January 1: Australia's Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspaper in Melbourne publish a report highlighting the tourist scams and rip-offs now plaguing Phuket. Sweden's best-selling newspaper, Aftonbladet, begins a week-long series on the problems of Phuket and other Thai destinations.

January 4: The youthful owner and manager of Phuket's classy Sri panwa resort is seriously wounded in an axe attack by staff at an after-hours pub in Phuket City. With Vorasit ''Wan'' Issara but fortunately unharmed is Hollywood star Jeremy Renner. News of the alarming Phuket incident is carried around the world.

January 7: ''This is real, far worse than anything in 'Mission Impossible' or any of Jerry's other movies,'' Khun Wan's influential mother Srivara tells Phuketwan at a media conference. His father Songkran adds: ''Inevitably, this is bad for the image of Phuket and Thailand. The authorities need to make sure that laws are enforced.''

January 9: Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha orders the pub where the attack took place to close for 90 days. Major General Chonsit orders on-time closure at 2am of all venues and says owners will be held responsible for weapons, drugs and actions of their staff.

January 12: Corruption-fighting Phuket journalist Wisut ''Ae'' Tangwittayaporn is assassinated in Phuket's main street by a professional assassin who alights from a motorcycle to pump four shots through a windscreen at his target. As well as being a writer and editor, Khun Ae ia an activist for the red movement, a significant force behind the newly-elected Thai government.

January 13: A second assassination follows with shots being pumped into Kalim man Jakkrit Nutad before his two killers, like the previous day's murderers, fleeing on a motorcycle.

January 14: Senior Government official and Pheu Thai Party spokesman Phrompong Nopparit foreshadows a crackdown on guns on Phuket, saying that Phuket is an international tourist destination with too much violence.

January 18: Phuket must act to prevent jet-ski scams, tourist price rip-offs and motorcycle hire extortion, says Phuket Police Commander, Major General Chonsit Wadhnawarangkun.

January 18: A special Interior Ministry team will visit Phuket next month to investigate the huge number of illegal taxis on Phuket, exorbitant fares of tuk-tuks, and accusations of ''mafia'' tactics that include blockades on public roads and intimidation at some Phuket resorts, Governor Tri announces.

Comments

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I really hope the Police commander is able to make a positive difference. Now the difficult part starts. Actions and not words. I wish the Police commander good luck and hope he has the full backing of government officials in Bangkok to do his job.

Posted by Billy on January 20, 2012 15:05

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The police commander will attempt to tone it down for a while.

Posted by jj on January 21, 2012 16:22

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If words become deeds, embassies will will erect statues and oil paintings in their foyers to this police commander and travel agencies will move Phuket to top of the list of hollday destinations, which is far from the case currently.

Posted by traveller on January 22, 2012 04:09


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