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Investigation leader Khun Prania with Patong Mayor Pian Keesin

Phuket Expat Guides Cheat System, Probe Told

Friday, May 20, 2011
Phuketwan Special Report

EXPAT GUIDES on Phuket are able to dodge laws to obtain work permits for jobs they shouldn't have, a committee investigating tourist-related corruption was told yesterday.

Leading Phuket authorities spoke frankly about Phuket's problems at the hearing, ordered by the Prime Minister and overseen by the Deputy Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of the Interior, Prania Suwanrath.

Khun Prania says he will deliver a progress report to the PM next week and continue his investigation until ''we fix Phuket.''

Because of the honesty of testimony at the Phuket City hearing, Phuket's media has been asked not to identify the people who spoke at yesterday's long session over almost four hours.

Phuket's Khun A said: ''Korea and Russia sell packages very cheaply. On Phuket, they set up nominee companies, and bring their own guides from Korea and Russia.

''There are between 40 and 50 Korean tour companies on Phuket now. Russia has about 20 or 30 companies. There's an area on Phuket they call 'Korea Town' where Koreans even sell noodles.

''This is supposed to be a job for Thais only, but then tour guides are also supposed to be all Thais. The Korean and Russian companies say that Thais can't speak Korean or Russian, but this covers the 'zero baht' nature of their tours.

''Korean and Russian operators sell cheap packages, and take their tour groups to buy souvenirs at their shops, and at their restaurants. Now some plan to buy land and buld resorts.''

Khun Prania ''If we pursue the law, will it cost Phuket many tourists?''

Phuket's Khun A ''Who cares! Phuket and Thailand get no benefit from these kinds of tour operators. All the money goes into the pockets of Koreans and Russians. They also rip off each other. They come to use Phuket, and leave us with their garbage and bad water.''

[Khun A went to Chalong temple in southern Phuket to arrest an illegal guide.]

''One of my staff had to go to the toilet at the temple. In the toilet he overheard a policeman talking to a guide saying: 'You have to go because I can't stop the officers from the [organisation deleted].'

''We arrested a few people that day and at Chalong police station, it took us seven hours before police would formally lodge a report. Officers found other things to do for all that time.

''When we start making arrests, even when the operation is supposed to be secret, somehow people get to hear what is about to happen. In Kata-Karon, we have found empty shops with the air-con still on, but nobody to be seen.

''How foreigners can get work permits as guides when it's illegal constantly surprises me. We need a good role model, good people who enforce the law, good people who do not think about lining their own pockets.''
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


So Khun A's primary problem is maintaing jobs for Thais !!! Even if that costs Phuket tourists that's not important.

No mention of problems such as the police being complicit in stealing millions of EUR worth of property and in bed with the kind of people that throw children down a well !! Of the cartels, of the scams, its purely a protecting the revenue stream for Thais only subject ?!?

Posted by LivinLOS on May 20, 2011 07:32

Editor Comment:

The PM starts a probe at long last, and you quibble and nit-pick. This wide investigation is unlikely to pursue individual cases because systemic change is far more important.


The problems in Thailand and especially on Phuket, boil down to one thing only.
If it can have a price...then it becomes a sellable commodity.
Women, men, children, work permits, visas, positions in government... the list just goes on.
My prayers are with those people who have the authority to fix these problems, may the good forces be with you all.
Take care out there.

Posted by Graham on May 20, 2011 09:18


Yes, even if it costs tourists. Perhaps the most promising part of all this excellent news is it appears that there are people who see a bigger picture and are focused on the longer term. The tourists who it will cost you are coming on unfairly cheap packages and, without going into a dissertation on economics, they actually drive up the prices for others. Additionally they are not sustainable, the moment they can get a cheaper package they will be off and running. It also stands to reason that their contribution margin to legitimate tourism is minimal. The illegal payments made to get these packages and foreign tour guides going has a ripple effect on graft. If you don't clean up stuff like this, you will lose the core of your sustainable (read that desirable) tourists and limit the long term growth.

Side note - Can't help but comment on L.LOS mention of the sensational Andrew Drummond article referenced. While that story sounds horrid there are holes in it you could drive a truck through. The largest being only one side of it has been printed and reported on and that part of it seems to require a suspension of belief to swallow whole (read it again objectively). Experience has taught me that many of these tales do not have one completely innocent and one totally guilty side. Yes, locking kids in a well is reprehensible but ... there is probably more.

Finally, every government in the world has laws to protect the jobs of its citizens. This is why governments exist, to protect their citizens. People pay taxes for protection, elect governments to enforce laws and ensure employment so they can pay more taxes, etc. If you doubt this, google the immigrant employment laws of the US, Germany, UK, etc.

Agree with the editor on this. We should all be ecstatic and supportive of the recent news and comments by locals. Add this to the local drug busts and their is reason for hope.

Posted by Martin on May 20, 2011 09:38


The dive industry have the same problem with hundred of foreign instructor setting-up their own Thai companies with less than 30,000 Baht paid to accounting offices or lawyers with proxy Thai shareholders, Thai directors and Thai staffs.
Many Thai operated dive operators had to lay-kk their Thai staffs, sell their dive boats or move to cheaper rented building to survive.
The other side, large foreign dominated dive operators employ dozens of those freelance instructors, who got work-permits through illegitimate Thai companies, to work full-time in their promises or on their dive boats.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on May 20, 2011 09:45


Sounds like these foreign guides learned from the best in how to cheat customers...the Thais themselves!!....also sour grapes and xenophobia not allowing foreigners to operate these tour companies. Who better to show Koreans around but other Koreans. Just wish in America where I come from, I could tell the Thais they cannot own businesses, homes..etc.

Posted by David on May 20, 2011 10:01

Editor Comment:

I wouldn't sound off too loudly, David. In modern times, Americans have taught the world how to cheat on a massive scale. Even your heroes cheat on their wives. There are good and bad Thais, just as there are good and bad Americans. And the US remains the most protective of countries when it comes to its citizens' jobs.


Although I can only comment on what has been reported by PhuketWan reporters, it certainly sounds as if this investigation is biased towards protecting inept Thai tour guides and corrupt Thais who prey on overseas tourists.

Last week I sacked 2 of my hotel staff, because they were basically too lazy to work hard for my foreign guests. I'm now going to employ legal Burmese workers.

By all means, let's crack down on corruption and illegal activities in Phuket. But please, clean up your own backyard first. Thais are not above the law.

Posted by Simon Luttrell on May 20, 2011 13:51


If Thais cannot speak Russian or Korean, what good are they as tour guides for those groups of people?

Posted by FarangTalk on May 21, 2011 13:00

Wednesday April 24, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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