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Chinese Ambassador Guan Mu at today's high-powered conference

Phuket Corrupt, Says China's Ambassador

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
PHUKET: Phuket authorities are meeting with Chinese Ambassador Guan Mu this afternoon to discuss tourism safety and security. China delivers more tourists to Phuket than any other nation.

A poignant shadow has been cast over today's gathering with the drowning yesterday of a young Chinese tourist on a snorkelling day trip off Phuket.

Diplomatic niceties are expected to be observed today but the key to this unusual meeting will be how Phuket's authorities respond to any questions that the ambassador might ask.

It's generally accepted that the duty of care concept is not widely understood by many Phuket tour operators and boat ''captains.'' Avoidable deaths continue to occur.

Phuketwan reporters are at today's meeting at the Phuket Graceland Resort and Spa in Patong and we will be carrying LIVE updates in words and photographs all afternoon.

2pm With the Ambassador today are Consuls Ms Li Yijun and Qin Jian, Consul-General in Songkhla Xu Miangliang and Counsellor and Consul-General Gao Zhenting.

Virtually all of Phuket's leaders are here - although the Governor of Phuket is overseas, in Europe. The Mayor of Patong, Pian Keesin, is here, too.

2.05pm Phuket Vice Governor Dr Sommai Preechasin begins her speech of welcome and says how pleasant it is to have the Chinese delegation here in such strength.

2.10pm Dr Sommai says almost one million Chinese visit Phuket each year [verifiable statistics are hard to come by] and overall tourist numbers had grown by 25-30 percent a year over the past three years.

China, Russia, Australia, South Korea and Europe remained the key sources of tourism for Phuket. Stakeholders were concerned about the political stability of Thailand and the safety and security of tourists on Phuket.

''The motto of Phuket remains Sea, Sand and Sun,'' she said. ''Our concerns are no longer all about Phuket but about the Andaman cluster, too.''

Dr Sommai listed lack of language skills, not enough good service, traffic, guides, safety and security as key points for discussion about Phuket.

''Development of infrastructure is a priority,'' she said, listing the airport, safety zones for tourists, a safe road traffic system, a larger deep sea port and the tunnel to Patong as some of Phuket's needs.

2.20pm Responding, the ambassador said that 1.7 million Chinese had come to Thailand in 2011 and that figure rose to 2.8 million last year.

''One in three of those Chinese visitors to Thailand come to Phuket,'' he said. ''It's as though they come to visit their family.''

He said Thailand's Prime Minister and China's Prime Minister had talked a lot about tourism already in 2013.

He says - a remarkable statistic - that between January and April, 1.5 million Chinese have already come to Thailand.

''I predict the total for the year will be four million,'' he said, ''and one in three will come to Phuket.''

The ambassador then lists six points for improvement, switching sometimes from Chinese to Thai.

Point One, he says, is infrastructure. It needs to improve.

Point Two is Guides. ''We need properly trained people who understand both Thai and Chinese culture,'' he said. ''If we can do that, we will have a good relationship.''

He says he has been holding talks with the TAT to try to solve the problem: ''Hopefully this will be sorted as soon as possible.''

Point Three: Zero baht tours, he said, were a rip-off, pure and simple.

Point Four: He continued: ''Police and Immigration do not have justice in their hearts. They are not moral and professional.''

He switched from Chinese to say in Thai: ''Police are corrupt in Thailand. Some of them use their positions of power to rip off tourists.

''This is not true of every tourist but there are enough cases for this to be a serious problem. We have to sort this problem out immediately.''

[The ambassador is likely to have many other envoys agree loudly.]

''When it comes to fraud in Thailand, there is a lack of quality among investigators. Some cases will never be resolved. Chinese tourists are not satisfied.''

Point Five: Not enough is being done to fix problems.
There are food poisonings and accidents, he says.
''Tourists' documents and money are stolen.
Drownings happen too easily on Phuket and Samui. These problems need to be solved.

Point Six: Signs in Chinese are needed to warn tourists, along with service in the appropriate language.

''I believe tourists have certain basic rights,'' he said. ''And Thailand needs to support the large number of tourists that we send with a matching degree of investment in facilities.''

He said he had heard about a group of Chinese who had to wait four hours in their hotel lobby for a bus.

''By next high season, i am hoping the Thai government will have improved the bus operations and have a sensible plan in place for guides,'' he said.

Law enforcement was needed when agents cheated customers, he said.

Tourist Police needed to speak Chinese. The 1155 hotline service should be improved with a Chinese service.

''Prevention and protection from accidents and rip-offs in the key,'' he said.

At first, zero baht tours had been welcomed but now it had become obvious that they were not in anyone's best interests, he said: ''A strong set of laws is necessary to preserve tourism quality.''

Signage needed to be dramatically improved on Phuket: ''Our people drown on the beaches here because they cannot tell what a red flag is. More work needs to be done to educate tourists and save lives.''

He recommended a special committee be established to control issues relating to tourism.

''These issues should be raised at least once a month and dealt with quickly,'' he said. ''Our aim is to help the industry to improve and to make good revenue for Thailand.''

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Perfect. The governor and the head of marine 5 out of town, when the Chinese envoy bitchslap the Phuket elite and a sweet water ferry crashes into rocks in medium sea and never seen conditions to the captain. So lucky.

Posted by Lena on May 29, 2013 15:28

Editor Comment:

The governor is still in Europe but the head of marine 5 has returned.

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These problems occure also in Bejing,so he should not come to teach Phuket what is also going wrong in China.I was there and experienced the same problems with chinese, even worser because they are rude and dont know how to behave with foreign tourists. Even sheraton hotel the taxi drivers not understandm everything has to be written in chinese and if you are lucky the driver can read otherwise you not move. So Mr ambassador don't come to teach the Thais what is working worser in your own country

Posted by Eric on May 29, 2013 15:45

Editor Comment:

Whose side are you on, eric? are you a supporter of corruption, or given the choice between right and wrong, do you always choose poorly? The ambassador is suggesting improvements in his area - thailand. You seem to be cheerleading once again for those want nothing to change - the corrupt. What a perverse approach, defending the indefensible.

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I wonder if the good ambassador reads the PW website as he seems to have hit the nail smack on the head with some of his comments, for example:

Point Four: He continued: ''Police and Immigration do not have justice in their hearts. They are not moral and professional.''

He switched from Chinese to say in Thai: ''Police are corrupt in Thailand. Some of them use their positions of power to rip off tourists.

Posted by Logic on May 29, 2013 16:03

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Good to see that the Chinese ambassador was well prepared for the meeting, it is only fair that he use the no of Chinese tourist as a leverage for getting heard and hopefully the Thai side will listen very carefully, understand and actually do something about it...else instead of 1 million Chinese tourist Phuket could suddenly wake up to no Chinese tourist at all.
The Russians do not appear to be as well organised as the Chinese else they would probably do the same thing.

Posted by Sailor on May 29, 2013 16:08

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I think Eric's point Mr Ed is that it's a bit rich for someone who comes from a system which is known to be full of corruption to lecture about corruption- even if it's true. A bit pot, kettle, black but notwithstanding that all the points he has made about Phuket are valid. Although the Chinese and western media will over this I would be interested to know how many Thai news services you observed reporting on the meeting?

Posted by Mr Ree on May 29, 2013 16:27

Editor Comment:

No country is free of corruption so who would ever be able to speak out about it here under eric's ridiculous criteria? It's not a valid point. It's an argument used by the corrupt, and ''nothing will ever change'' doomstayers. ALL corruption is bad and should be wiped out.

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''Police are corrupt in Thailand. Some of them use their positions of power to rip off tourists."

I love that he does not mince his words and say it as it is. Corruption is rife and tuk-tuks and the mafias are allowed to carried on simply because of this.

And Eric, Beijing has lousy service and no care for those who do not speak English, but Beijing have other things they can live on with it being the capital, they have MNCs and businesses etc while Phuket only has tourism to survive so we had better do this well.

Posted by May on May 29, 2013 16:28

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To editor
This has nothing to see with being for the poor or corruption. Regarding the situation in his own country he should be more diplomatic in adressing his concerns to Thai people. Take a trip to china and you will be able to see how the things go there. One more thing I don't know if you are Thai or foreigner. But living in Thailand as a foreigner you have to know you place and not thinking that you are here to teach the locals

Posted by Eric on May 29, 2013 16:28

Editor Comment:

You can't see the wood for the trees, eric. One of the most important speeches ever against corruption and rip-offs on Phuket is made and you question the man's credentials on ridiculous grounds. If we were in a fort together fighting off an enemy army, you'd be letting them in the back door. Pathetic, eric. Pathetic.

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Phuket Wan, thank you very much for reporting the visit of the H.E. Ambassador and Consuls to Phuket. It is refreshing to hear that this is a pro active visit and exchange of thoughts, where the real issues are raised in an official forum. We better understand that Chinese consumers are becoming very sophisticated and particulary very news savvy.

Bad news about a destination, news about treating Chinese consumers badly make huge waves on public forums in China, so do good news.

Follow the story how Chinese bloggers hunted down a Chinse teenager putting some grafiti on a temple wall in Egypt, found him and forced him to make a public apology.

It is time we understand the evolution of the Chinese consumer over the past years and put systems in place to assist them, help them to have a great holiday, if we like them to continue to come to Phuket.

Eric by the way, from my experience of traveling in China, of course you have con man every where, but if you report it to the relevant authorities, drastic action is taken, particulary when it comes to cheating tourists.

Posted by wm on May 29, 2013 16:35

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Governor knew what was coming: "The Chinese Ambassador is coming to complain" so I will go to Europe.

Posted by mike on May 29, 2013 16:37

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WOW - at last! To the Ed will you be able to attend the other days??

As for Beijing argument, I think this is irrelevant as we are based in Phuket. There are Beijing based websites for this argument. Yes I have been and yes I am fully aware of the issues.

Posted by eezergood on May 29, 2013 17:01

Editor Comment:

Just an afternoon meeting, but enough.

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Thank you Ambassador Guan Mu. I hope our European Ambassadors will follow your upfront and to-the-point approach.

Handling the situation with kid gloves has not brought about any worthwhile improvements in the past decade. Nice touch speaking in Thai making sure the most striking points hit home base.

Posted by ThaiMike on May 29, 2013 17:26

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You certainly have to admire the man for not mincing his words - say it as you see it mentality. Refreshing to see.

Hopefully it will be listened to by the government here. Failure to listen may result in the Chinese tour market being switched off here by the Chinese government and that would be a catastrophe for Phuket.

With China investing heavily in places like Sri Lanka etc, there will be plenty of places for the Chinese to go chill in the sun at if Phuket does not improve.

Posted by Ciaran on May 29, 2013 17:30

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Complex issues here and Guan Mu spoke openly and directly. However one sided on some issues. English has for many years been the international recognised language ask any pilot and in China English should be taught, we can't have signs in Thai, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Japanese and English it would be a joke. Also like in many countries, UK, Australia, Europe basic swimming is taught so to should it be taught in China. Thailand is not as wealthy as countries like Australia where the lifeguards have higher budgets but there is also some responsibility to only swim where and when it is safe on the tourists. Phuket is trying hard on the budget it has and the lifeguards I have met here all seem decent people.

Posted by Lost In Translation on May 29, 2013 18:35

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Phuket LIVE: Phuket Police, Immigration Are Corrupt, Says China's Ambassador
So we all know that even those in charge in the thai administration to crackdown corruption and illegal businesses in Phuket such as DSI (DEPARTMENT OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATION) and NACC (NATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION).
What is the next step by Phuket Governor will be a mystery as since 20 years all Phuket Governors did acheive nothing about it.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on May 29, 2013 18:44

Editor Comment:

The next step would be to prosecute, sentence and jail anyone caught behaving corruptly on Phuket.

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well not diplomatic but the truth might hurt,fraud ,corruption bad service no security horrible tours he's well informed, was the official who said all problems fixed at the meeting or he hide in shame.

Posted by slickmelb on May 29, 2013 19:47

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Well said Mr Ambassador you hit the nail right on the head nice touch using the Thai language when insulting the corrupt police and immigration officials .Maybe the European envoy will also be less diplomatic when reiterating the very same points when he gets to meet the elusive well travelled governor.
Governor if it walks like a duck quacks like a duck it's a duck sort these corrupt cops , bent officials, scam artists and last but not least the taxi / tuk-tuk crooks out ,even the Chinese ambassador is better informed give him six months in charge and he'll sort your problems out

Posted by Scunner on May 29, 2013 21:13

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i would not like to have lessons of morality by china , FreeTibet .
in Egypt they are not so satisfied with chinese tourists......

Posted by tarbaquito on May 29, 2013 21:20

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Slickmelb, you comment about horrible tour, dont forget that the chinese tourists want only the cheapest tours, they not compare apple with apples, and lucky if you pay the correct price there are companies who give a good service and good quality tour. You get what you pay.

Editor, you not answered about your nationality,are you shy ?

Posted by Eric on May 29, 2013 21:24

Editor Comment:

I didn't realise you asked the question, eric. Is it another of your strange fixations? Only bigots consider such things relevant. The point is, eric, getting rid of corruption will be good for residents and tourists. All residents and all tourists. Perhaps you are the single unhappy exception.

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Can anyone tell me WHY not Immigration in Phuket Town does have CCTV camera inside the Immigration?

Posted by Wonder on May 30, 2013 07:40

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@ Wonder, wakey wakey old bean, there are cameras everywhere in the building, noticed the change of personnel too?

Posted by DuncanB on May 30, 2013 08:04

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Is there new staff at Phuket Town Immigration? I hope so - I got the " how much can you pay" when I tried to extend my visa last time. " Er,...I can't pay any more than the legal fee." So this business owner and employer of four workers had to go to Penang, and gets to do a visa run every three months. ABSURD!!

Posted by EB48 on May 30, 2013 10:24

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It's refreshing to see an ambassador that is a bit more straightforward and honest. I do however believe that chinese people need to learn english, the well established world language. Signs will be unreadable if they were written in 5, 6 or more languages. English (or romanised thai) plus thai is quite enough.
I frankly find it rude to expect signage in your own language in a foreign country. In Thailand thai and english are the compulsory languages in school, and the roman and thai alphabet are likewise the compulsory scripts.

Posted by christian on May 30, 2013 20:32

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If I had a baht for every time corruption and scam problems have been brought to the attention of the authorities in Phuket, I would be a wealthy man.

If I had to pay 100 baht each time something was done about it, I would still be a wealthy man.

Point in case a couple of years ago the Austrian ambassador threatened that to issue travel alerts if Tuk-tuk and Jet Ski scams were not addressed. I could have had another bath here as that meeting too was a waist of time.

Posted by Peter on May 30, 2013 23:16

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Great that someone finally talks from their gut. The Ambassador from my country would never be so direct, they are only interested in cocktail parties and cutting ribbons. Hope something gets done though about the points he lists. I am hopeful!

Posted by Eirik on June 1, 2013 02:20

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@Eric 2 deaths of chinese on snorkling tours in the last month id say there horrible tours illresponsible tours and border on near criminality which you base on the price of a ticket, a cheap tour should not mean your life and body is under threat.

Posted by slickmelb on June 5, 2013 01:16

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Seems the Chinese fella does not mince his words!!!!

Posted by geoff on June 8, 2013 10:28


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