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PACC Deputy Secretary-General Prayong Preeyachitt today

Phuket Dive Operators Tell About Extortion

Thursday, March 27, 2014
PHUKET: Three dive operators on Phuket told Phuketwan today that they'd had telephone calls from a Chalong policeman asking them not to reveal they'd paid him extortion money.

He said he would return corrupt payments ranging up to 20,000 baht if they did not tell the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission about the shakedowns.

The operators and others were due to reveal details to PACC Deputy Secretary-General Prayong Preeyachitt today about corrupt payments on Phuket as the dive industry finally opted to fight rather than pay up.

One of the dive operators said she had security camera evidence of police coming to her shop while others said they had photographs of the officers involved.

Whether the operators retain their resolve to fight remains to be seen. Khun Prayong said results of his investigation on Phuket should be revealed within two weeks.

He added that anyone who wanted to expose corruption on Phuket should feel safe in contacting him. Identities would be kept secret but justice would be done, he said.

About 50 dive industry operators first met last Saturday and resolved to confront corruption rather than, as they have done in the past, make the payments and learn to live with long-standing extortion on Phuket.

Most people who make corrupt payments on Phuket find that they never stop, and that the amounts increase.

''I'm impressed,'' said one dive industry worker who told on Saturday of making an extortion payment of 20,000 baht. ''I feel that we are no longer alone. They're here and taking it seriously.''

The worker said there were concerns about the PACC officials returning to Bangkok, with the identities of the dive industry people known to Phuket police, but that it was a risk more were now prepared to take.

''We are doing something about it,'' the worker said. ''If the PACC doesn't do anything about it, the ambassadors in Bangkok will get involved. None of us want to damage tourism in Thailand. Our livelihoods depend on it.

''But for the future of Thailand and for tourism, this corruption has to stop.''

Another dive industry operator said many people had been caught up in the corruption that involved officers from Chalong Police Station.

''They find small things to complain about and try to stop your activity,'' he said. ''People start paying at 3000 baht and big companies can pay 12, 15 or even 20,000 baht a month,

''We need to change things on Phuket. Many people have been caught up with police and it's very important for the dive industry to sort this out and change everything.''

If the dive industry succeeds in taking a stand against corruption, other sections of the Phuket community are also likely to consider ways of eliminating standover tactics.

For the first time, the refreshing dive industry stance against shakedowns has attracted support and it coincides with the transformation of the Thai Diving Association into the Association of Thailand Underwater Sports.

ATUS is calling on dive operators to join up to clean up the industry.

Khun Prayong of the PACC can be contacted by Thai speakers on O81 8017465 or email him at: prayong.p.pacc@hotmail.com

Comments

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and will dive companies also stop employing workers without work permits and obtaining work permits by issuing 'tea money' to thai officials??

Posted by another steve on March 27, 2014 18:55

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Tea money is tea money, this is thailand nobody can stop because this is the sistem! The brave dive business will face more pressure for all government office in the island, sad to say but is the truth, land of smile!

Posted by angelo on March 27, 2014 23:04

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Ohhhh, this should be interesting......Stoping corruption in ANY country, is not an easy task...

Posted by Anonymous on March 28, 2014 00:50

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"Stopping corruption... is not an easy task," And expat foreigners are just the ones to do it.
Can we get an association for all business owners? Expats Unite!! Expats Unite!! Expats Unite !!

Posted by The Night Mare on March 28, 2014 09:00

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Anonymous, you are so right, the problem here many have said they will put a stop to it but all have failed, every single time. Makes you wonder why.

Posted by Laurie Howells on March 28, 2014 10:34

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The T-shirt common on the stalls says it all "Same Same but Different" Same corruption in Different guises. Phuket refuses to change.

Posted by Logic on March 29, 2014 01:48

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A friend of mine pays 3,000 baht/year. He does not mind as long as police does not bother. If he would be asked up to 20,000 baht/month, he would mind indeed cause he cannot survive ! To consider corruption always as bad is wrong. I know about countries where people pay money in order to avoid laws which are wrong. Can laws be wrong ? Yeah, they can ! But 20,000 baht / month is not corruption, is extortion.

Posted by paul on March 29, 2014 10:38

Editor Comment:

Events in Bangkok have shown that there are limits to tolerating corruption and greed. Just as people cannot be half-pregnant, there is no such thing as ''good'' corruption. The answer to bad laws is to have the laws repealed. We would urge anyone making corrupt payments to stop.

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The "good corruption" is to avoid a wrongful law which gives you more harm than making corrupt payments. Oh yess ! The answer to bad laws is god laws but if, after several times, the repealing process is rejected would you stand still waiting to go bust ?
BTW, what is half pregnancy for ? Your comparison left me a bit confused

Posted by paul on March 29, 2014 11:05

Editor Comment:

There is no such thing as being half-pregnant just as there is no such thing as good corruption. You are either pregnant or not, either corrupt or not.

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" We would urge anyone making corrupt payments to stop."

Agree, this all would not have happened if the dive companies in question would have been set up and operating legally. And if not but working illegally, followed the official channels and get fined, in stead of the backroom deals that both police and divecompanies have been using for years and years.

Posted by stevenl on March 29, 2014 11:38

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In an ideal world, there is not. It's true. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the world is not like that. Maybe changing the name from "good corruption" to "offer" might help. Good for same same but different

Posted by paul on March 29, 2014 12:03

Editor Comment:

There is no such thing as good corruption. Don't kid yourself, paul.


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