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Phuket official Siriporn Tantiphanyatep: ''not wise to say bad things . . .''

Phuket Jet-Ski Dispute Leads to Row Among Envoys, Thai Official

Friday, August 30, 2013
PHUKET: A Phuket jet-ski dispute over payment for damage has developed into an international row involving Australian envoys and a Thai official.

In the aftermath of the jet-ski incident, a senior Thai official on Phuket sent a message to Australian honorary consul Larry Cunningham.

The message concluded: '' . . . it is not wise to always say bad things about Phuket while you are still living and doing your business in this city.''

It's believed envoys at the Australian Embassy in Bangkok have taken a dim view of the message, sent in a text to Mr Cunningham's mobile telephone today.

Mr Cunningham was alerted last night to a jet-ski incident at Karon beach, which is almost as popular with Australian visitors as nearby Patong.

Mr Cunningham contacted the Governor, Maitree Intrusud, and the Chief of Marine 5's Phuket Office, which oversees the jet-skis, and arranged to meet them with the Commander of Phuket Police at Karon Police Station today.

When Mr Cunningham arrived at the police station, he was told the jet-ski dispute had been settled last night. While at the Karon Police Station, Mr Cunningham received an sms that read:

''The Australian boy paid only 16,000 [baht] and has been released because the governor will pay the balance for him for the engine damaged as the boy made jet ski sunk to the ground, which is not covered by insurance.

''He (and you too) should thank the governor instead of just making complaints all the times.

''And it is not wise to always say bad things about Phuket while you are still living and doing your business in this city.''

The message was sent by Siriporn Tantiphanyatep, Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Phuket Office.

At a meeting at Phuket's administrative headquarters soon after to clarify the jet-ski issue, Khun Siriporn said to Mr Cunningham that he should thank the governor for paying the balance of the money outstanding in the jet-ski dispute.

However, it quickly emerged that Governor Maitree had not paid any money to settle the jet-ski dispute.

The Governor and Marine Office 5 chief Phuripat Theerakulpisut arrived at the meeting soon after Mr Cunningham had left.

Karon Police Superintendent, Colonel Veerawat Jantharawijid, said the jet-ski dispute had been settled the previous night.

The tourist paid 16,000 baht and insurance covered another 16,000 baht, he said. There was no clarification about a claim that the jet-ski operator had struck the tourist.

Colonel Veerawat said the passport of the tourist had only been held by police at the station for the time it took to write a report on what had happened.

Governor Maitree, who delivered a lecture yesterday to 80 jet-ski operators about the need for them to become ''brand ambassadors'' for Phuket, said that he should be notified about all disputes involving tourists.

The governor's even-handed approach appeared at odds with the message sent to Mr Cunningham by Khun Siriporn.

It is the role of Phuket's honorary consuls to protect their citizens in disputes with Phuket locals or police.

Earlier, Mr Cunningham told journalists that he and other honorary consuls remained concerned because most jet-ski disputes were settled by intimidating behavior without envoys getting to hear about them.

The Australian tourist involved in the jet-ski dispute was due to fly home from Phuket today.

POSTSCRIPT: The jet-ski owner said later that insurance did not cover the extra 16,000 baht because of a clause in the contract ruling out single-vehicle accidents and sinkings. ''I will have to pay,'' said Somphot Kukkro.

Honorary consuls have suggested that all jet-ski operators should pay a higher premium for full insurance so there are no disputes with tourist riders over extra payments.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Khun Siriporn has obviously not been on a "How to win friends and influence people course." Thai officialdom at its worse. She will go places! ;-)

Posted by Baralan on August 30, 2013 14:16

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Given all the recent events and "initiatives" to calm the waters on jet ski activity I think its important to know for sure whether the Governor gave in and part - paid the jet ski guy or not....

Posted by eddy on August 30, 2013 14:21

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Open threats now! That is outrageous. Very imprudent indeed!

Posted by Sudo Nim on August 30, 2013 14:21

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My my my, looks like the Gov. has a lot of work to do, not least asking for a please explain, from Siriporn Tantiphanyatep asking why such a "threatening" sms was sent to Australia's honorary consul Larry Cunningham. This in effect is a threat upon a foreign nation.

Posted by DSI Watch on August 30, 2013 14:22

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Did anyone ask the jet ski operator why the jet ski sunk, this would mean that the floatation foam had been removed, if this is the case, then it is the operators fault. Jet skis are made NOT to sink.

Posted by DSI Watch on August 30, 2013 14:26

Editor Comment:

It flipped over, so a leak was very likely. Almost brand new . . .

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Yes we must remember Phuket would be better without foreigners, especially as we let anyone in and then wonder why we have low class foreigners.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on August 30, 2013 14:28

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....and there you have it. From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Phuket Office).

Not tempted to come over to the "dark-side" yet, Ed?

Probably not.

Posted by sir burr on August 30, 2013 14:43

Editor Comment:

It's all progress, sir burr.

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Nothing changes..why not just ban jet-skis?

Posted by Stevd on August 30, 2013 14:44

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i wonder if Siriporn Tantiphanyatep even been abroad before with this attitude?

Posted by pekka on August 30, 2013 14:50

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Don't know the actual case but what is easy to understand is that educating jet ski operators on good behaviour is not the only task necessary for the Governor, seems that public servants need to be reminded on how to behave as well.

Posted by Sailor on August 30, 2013 14:58

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''And it is not wise to always say bad things about Phuket while you are still living and doing your business in this city.''

Does this mean when you are living and doing business outside of a location you can say bad things about it as much as you like?

I am really confused now, I must be stupid.

I though Thailand was a (cough) democracy (only for Thais)

Posted by Fiesty Farang on August 30, 2013 15:08

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With that understanding attitude, I'm sure the Australian government will encourage its citizens to visit Phuket!

Posted by terry on August 30, 2013 15:09

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What Khun Siriporn Tantiphanyatep says is, for some, a way of thinking. Almost a standard response of "protect at all costs". Sadly, it doesn't bode well for the future as she is unlikely to be the only one thinking like this.

As she is the Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Phuket Office, I doubt the Governor has too much sway, other than to ask her to do a little better and be a little more diplomatic in the future. And perhaps a quiet, face-saving apology behind closed doors and then all move on.

I would like to hope the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, however, would look into this and take appropriate action. It should be taken seriously by them and not be something thrown onto the Governor's plate.

Posted by Duncan on August 30, 2013 15:09

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Ed, it does not say, it flipped over, however, even if it did, jet skis by design, are made to take this and NOT sink. All that is needed to do, if water gets into the cylinders, is to remove the spark plug and crank the motor over, ejecting the water, replace the spark plugs then go have fun, I do not know where this 16000+baht comes from.... clearly fraud, another issue for DSI.

Posted by DSI Watch on August 30, 2013 15:12

Editor Comment:

16,000 baht is the standard extra fee paid for time out of the water. 3000 baht by five days, plus 1000 baht for paperwork.

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WOW!!! true colours/feelings are clearly on show. This from an educated official.

Posted by paul on August 30, 2013 15:21

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That SMS to Larry is nothing less than a thinly-veiled threat to him and his business.

Simon

Posted by Simon Luttrell on August 30, 2013 15:38

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And there it is... Something of a veiled threat from a government official sent to an honorary consul.

Now I see why there are times when some Expats feel as if the country is against them. It's one thing to be threatened by a hood and a whole different story when the threat comes from an government official... to an official of another nation. WOW

Posted by Anonymous on August 30, 2013 15:40

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I believe this is another goal for the realists... AKA the doomsayers. what's the score now, Ed? If these sort of threats can happen by an "official", then Phuket is even further away from a future then anybody can imagine. Oh, maybe Ed is still wearing the pink glasses, so he might still be dreaming of those blue skies, like we could read a few weeks ago in PW.

Posted by charles on August 30, 2013 15:40

Editor Comment:

Dream on, charles. Your imagination seems to be the only thing that works.

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Whilst this is not the perfect medium to bring this up there is a connection. I appreciate Visas/Citizenship is a complex issue however I do think that if a foreigner has a child with a Thai they should be given citizenship as in my opinion in any society the future generation will be better if they keep in contact with both parents. The way it stand now is that if the foreigner runs out of money he/she has to leave the country as they cannot get a Visa.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on August 30, 2013 16:42

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That sent SMS comes from the power of the uniform, not from the logic of her brain!
She confuses that the job of the Australian Honorary Consul, isn't " a business ", but a service to look after
Australians.

Posted by George on August 30, 2013 16:45

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A Thai government official threatening the official representative of a friendly foreign government because he dares speak the truth. We have reached a new low.
It seems that the government officials are still in complete denial and think they can make the problems disappear with a few PR stunts. It appears they believe that there aren't really any problems except troublesome foreigners stirring up problems.

Posted by Yojimbo on August 30, 2013 16:50

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I retract my earlier statement Ed, make that 3 years until Phuket is finished. I think I'll be joining you in Spain and reading Spainwan.com!!!!!!

Posted by phuket madness on August 30, 2013 17:12

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I left Thailand and managed to repatriate my investment there. Too many sleepless nights with the gnawing feeling that I was a target and vulnerable simply because I had 50m b tied up there.

The comments from Siriporn must send a shiver down the spine of any foreigner who has invested in Thailand.

I'm glad to be out of it.

Posted by Barry on August 30, 2013 17:30

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Anyone who has been here long enough will know when a Thai makes a threat, it is usually a good time to leave. This is a very clear warning that the Thai's do not want you here Larry...maybe time to consider a move to pastures new.

Posted by Richard on August 30, 2013 17:36

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Phuket official Siriporn Tantiphanyatep and many civil servants nominated by Bangkok to Phuket are in high and unstable pressure between policy-makers and decision-makers from Ministries in Bangkok which want to upgrade tourism services before the opening of the AEC (ASEAN countries) and uneducated local people such as jet-ski operators, tuk-tuk drivers, staff on tour boats, who want make money the way they want without respect for tourists they look like simpletons easy to scam.
For most of them, their English is limited to few words and sentences and they do not have so much experience to deal with foreigners and their national representatives, therefore some howlers may be done by clumsiness because many civil servants and local administrations do not accept in their culture to be challenged in their decisions either they may be right or wrong.
Bangkok in that case should first train its civil servants to understand the complete overall in the way to manage tourism in Thailand to be ready to apply new policies in tourism destinations in Thailand.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 30, 2013 18:24

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The Honorary Consul is here to protect his countries people. Of Course most of issues will be on the Negative side for Thailand. I am not from Australia but I know that Larry have tried to do a lot for the Australians and also for us other Expats from other countries.

Posted by MJ on August 30, 2013 18:49

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plus 1000 baht for paperwork

The funniest thing today. What are you on about? You do know the average salary here for 10 hrs a day, 6 days a week is B7,500? Please stop making up stuff!

Posted by gee on August 30, 2013 19:17

Editor Comment:

You are clearly out of touch, gee. The minimum salary is 9000 baht a month. The 1000 baht figure has been mentioned many times. You are the first person to find it funny.

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I do love Thailand and I feel lucky to be able to live here evry single day.
This type of rows between Thai and expats just make me feel sad.

Posted by william on August 30, 2013 20:29

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Is this lady minister wearing the shoulder boards of a Rear Admiral? Time to relocate with a direct open threat like that. Boosting tourism Thai style.

Posted by Oi Oi Oi on August 30, 2013 21:33

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I agree with Richard - Larry has done so much to raise issues which concern tourists in Phuket, and which could stop the gravy train of scams and money making schemes. I am genuinely concerned for his safety and I hope he doesn't have any type of "accident" soon. An extremely brave and dedicated individual , I wish there were more like him.

Posted by Concerned on August 30, 2013 22:38

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Don't you read your own news? These people are thugs, liars and thieves. By their own admission some of them are convicted criminals. Wouldn't it be a good idea to eject these clowns and train respectable law abiding citizens and licence them? How hard can it be?

Posted by gee on August 30, 2013 22:56

Editor Comment:

gee, what bigotry. Some of the jet-ski operators are as pleasant and honest as you are. Why assume that everyone is bad, unless you've met them all? We'd prefer to be fair and not make sweeping accusations that aren't true.

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So, if The Honorary Consul has a "mishap" in the near future, who will be looked at for the cause?

Posted by mikey on August 30, 2013 22:56

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Shocking! If this senior official is allowed to escape with such a threat against an honorary consular official, then it is time for everyone to consider their future on Phuket. Perhaps if everyone pulled their money out of this greed & corruption riddled enclave, they might start to get the message.

There is a definite bad atmosphere about Phuket at present. I felt it myself on my most recent visit & heard it repeatedly stated by many who have lived on the island for some time. If it is not possible to reside & get out & about with some feeling of safety, then it is time to move to somewhere safer.

I have to state this is an atmosphere prevalent to Phuket alone & not felt in other parts of Thailand ... so far! If it spreads, then all is lost.

Posted by Logic on August 30, 2013 23:55

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The rule "Cheating a farang is not a sin" is still actual and would continue in the future forever without the help of some foreign honorary consuls such as Mr Larry Cunningham.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 31, 2013 08:20

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Somphot Kukkro would still be well in front overall I am sure.

Posted by Peter on August 31, 2013 10:13

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Some of jet ski renters are pleasant ? Which dream have you been through Ed ?? Go yourself hiring them all, then when you flip over instead of the 5,000 baht for cleaning the engine, you will be asked and go through something quite different than your pleasant and honest imagination

Posted by paul on August 31, 2013 12:21

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So there you have it from ranked Thai official - Best not to do business in Thailand and say anything that might penetrate Thai thin skins, or we'll deal with. Really why would anyone do business in Thailand unless they ensured they were being "looked after"? Oh, and the message is simple - don't hire jet skis.

Posted by Swanni on September 3, 2013 16:39

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She is the reason why Mr Cunningham resign after all these years he was scared to loose his resort that's why he stop his job. A shame.

Posted by rebecca on September 3, 2013 20:48

Editor Comment:

Rebecca, your first post - and a total fabrication!

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''Rebecca, your first post - and a total fabrication!''

- and how do you know that????

Posted by Alex on September 12, 2013 23:59

Editor Comment:

How do I know? Because Mr Cunningham has been planning his departure for weeks.

I've removed your needless insults, Alex. Sorry about that. This is the second post in the past 20 that hasn't been completely moderated. Well done!

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What was the outcome of this? Did Larry ever receive an apology or was a reprimand given? (To the Thai official)

Posted by paul on September 13, 2013 08:35


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