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A jet-ski damages negotiation underway at Patong in January

Phuket Scams: Time for Action, Says Jet-Ski Chief

Sunday, April 24, 2011
GOVERNMENT intervention is required not just because of jet-ski scams but also to investigate other Phuket tourist rip-offs, the vice president of the Patong Jet-Ski Association, Nucha Petchrimol, said yesterday.

''We try to do everything by the law and make sure we have a good image,'' he told Phuketwan. ''But we do have a Mafia element and we cannot control them.''

He said the activities of jet-ski operators at least took place in daylight, where they could be seen easily.

''Far worse things happen in Patong after dark,'' he said. ''Don't look only at the jet-skis. Look at motorbikes, tuk-tuks and pub bars. That is the real Mafia problem compared to jet-skis.

''I have seen many times tourists charged 30,000 baht for a night at a pub bar, and tuk-tuk drivers beat up the tourists.''

Jet-ski operators included ''some good, some bad,'' Khun Nucha said.

Earlier this month, one jet-ski operator told two Phuketwan journalists at Patong that he would ''smear blood over their faces'' because they intervened in a damages scam on the beach, advising two Australian tourists to go to the police.

The tourists admitted crashing two jet-skis but objected to the 280,000 baht being asked for damage. The tourists had been told the negotiations had to be carried out on the beach and that tourist police or honorary consuls would not help.

Yesterday Khun Nucha said: ''If there is a problem, don't negotiate on the beach. Just go to the police station.'' He added that it was time for government action to clean up all rip-offs in Patong.

''Being in Patong is all about the benefits,'' he said. ''Surely it's the same for every destination for tourists.

''I have two eyes. In Patong, I have to close one eye. If I open both eyes, I will see trouble.''

He agreed that having an insurance scheme for jet-skis was better than nothing. All 127 jet-skis in Patong and 30 in Kata-Karon currently had insurance, he said.

However, figures obtained and published by Phuketwan in December last year indicated that most were uninsured then and that Phuket's ''world-first'' jet-ski insurance scheme, introduced in 2009 to prevent jet-ski scams, was failing.

Anusorn Sale, president of the Phuket Jet-Ski Association - and also president of the Bang Tao Jet-Ski Association - said yesterday that jet-ski operators in Bang Tao had opted out of the insurance scheme.

''We have 38 jet-skis and very few problems,'' he said. ''Whenever we have problems we have been able to settle them by negotiation. Insurance is not essential.''

Jet-skis are permitted at five Phuket beaches - Patong, Kamala, Kata, Karon and Bang Tao. They also operate at Surin and Laem Singh beaches.

Phuripat Theerakulpisut, Chief of Phuket's Marine Office 5, whose job it is to oversee the jet-skis, has said more than once that he he is able to control Phuket's jet-skis. No action has ever been taken to remove them from Surin and Laem Singh.

Continuing scams indicate that the ''world-first'' insurance scheme has failed to stop extortion, so authorities on Phuket will now have to consider alternatives to reassure tourists that their safety and security is a priority.

Phuketwan has seen first-hand scams being carried out on Patong beach and reported on many others. These are our recommendations:

..Replace the failing insurance scheme with a co-op scheme based on contribution from jet-ski operators so that the operators themselves as a collective administer and are responsible for all damages payouts;

..Require all operators to re-register, at the same time reducing the number of jet-ski operators on Phuket from 219 to 160, weeding out those with a proven record of employing stand-over tactics.

..Establish the Navy as the law enforcement body for Patong beach, equipping them with an ATV to respond instantly to calls whenever there is a damages claim being negotiated.

..Seize and permanently impound the jet-ski of any operator who is caught extorting tourists in a scam.
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EXCLUSIVE Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban heads a high level 'scam summit' aimed at exposing Thailand's tourism rip offs and corruption, says Phuket Vice Governor Niwit Aroonrat.
Thailand Probes Tourist Rip-Offs: Phuket Joins In

Phuket and Corruption: The Thai Perspective
The Big Picture Here's a thorough overview of corruption in Thailand that also provides plenty of insights about what happens on Phuket. It's part of Phuketwan's Challenge for Change.
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'Jet-Ski JJ' Scam Thugs Scare Aussies off Phuket
Latest Winai ''JJ'' Naiman seeks almost 100,000 baht from Aussie backpackers in an extortion scam that an American volunteers says is becoming an all too frequent occurrence.
'Jet-Ski JJ' Scam Thugs Scare Aussies off Phuket

Two Aussie Tourists Knifed: Patong Tuk-Tuk Thugs Accused of Attack
Breaking News Australian tourists say a tuktuk gang set upon them in Patong, knifing two young men and putting them in hospital. The incident is likely to intensify concerns about safety and security.
Two Aussie Tourists Knifed: Patong Tuk-Tuk Thugs Accused of Attack

Phuket Jet-Ski Scammers 'Rip Off 150,000 Baht'
Patong Rip Offs Tourists are scammed of 150,000 baht as the meeting between honorary consuls and the Governor is asked: ''We've had this problem for 10 years. When will it end?''
Phuket Jet-Ski Scammers 'Rip Off 150,000 Baht'

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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The Tourist Police have a Volunteer Centre, next to the Immigration Office at Patong Beach. The office is usually open Monday to Saturday 10:30 - 15:30. The Tourist Police emergency number is 1155. The Tourist Police should be a tourists first point of contact if they have jet-ski incidents.

Posted by Phuket Kop on April 24, 2011 13:11

Editor Comment:

Only the constant presence of some kind of authority on Patong beach will prevent regular scams - especially on Sundays. More easily said than done. You can have all the tourist police you like at the TP office. Unless there is a force of some kind patrolling the sand, the extortions will continue. The jet-ski operators are never going to suggest involving police or tourist police. And from what we hear, tourist police volunteers are not always willing to become involved in dangerous situations where intimidation is standard procedure.

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He is overlooking the jetski and is allowing ilegal actions to happend !
It is ilegal to sail a jetski if you not have a Thai captains license !
So end of story ! They all have to be banned !

Posted by Peter on April 24, 2011 17:09

Editor Comment:

Oh yes. So easy. Then when the jet-ski operators blockade the main road over Patong Hill, what is your solution? A few more exclamation marks?

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If they blockade the road they get arrested. Just like anyone else.

Posted by Zigler on April 24, 2011 17:46

Editor Comment:

Oh sure. Just like anyone else.

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I don't go onto Patong beach anymore but it would seam a good idea that whatever the Government works out they should start putting it onto signs all along the beaches and beach resorts letting the tourist know who to call (not just a sign that say's tourist police) But start putting up signs everywhere that say to call first to XXX for all problems involving money and locals before you pay. It is time to start letting the tourist know someone is there looking out for them before singles and families move on to friendlier places and are replaced with nothing but tour groups a trend that is starting to take shape already.

Posted by mike on April 24, 2011 17:59

Editor Comment:

Yes, and the big signs can obscure the view of the beach and the tourists can decide they didn't really want to come to a place with big signs obscuring the beach anyway.

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ED sometime your head is where it don't shine

Posted by john s on April 24, 2011 18:09

Editor Comment:

If that was the case, john s, we would have something in common. Fortunately, I take very good care of my head.

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The Tourist Police Volunteers are stretched as it is. More people are needed to enable beach patrols to resume. As well as the Beach office, the volunteers patrol Bangla road of an evening and have personnel at Patong Hospital, Phuket Airport and Tourist Police HQ in Phuket Town. I am not aware of any volunteers being unwilling to become involved in the situations. There was a time when they received an order to 'not get involved', that has been rescinded. Why don't you go out with the volunteers and see what they do?

Posted by Phuket Kop on April 24, 2011 20:13

Editor Comment:

I've seen what the jet-ski operators do. That's where real help is needed. And that's why it would be better to have the Navy patrolling the beaches.

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..reading your comments, dear Ed, it seems that your point of view is nothing is possible to solve this situation. Please can you tell us what, is you should have the authority to do, will you do??

Posted by Dave on April 24, 2011 20:34

Editor Comment:

Read right to the end of the article again, Dave. That's what will solve the problem.

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i think thats very good ideas from phuketwan and you point out the right problem...but as i living here long time allready and know many people (inkl. police) i can not understand why is it
so hard to stop this guys? there are videos on youtube with hiden cam when they pay the damage. and the police guy was there as well, everybody know they get a share...so they work for the goverment as well, or not? its a bigger problem then we see on the surface. there are farang guys who rent part of beaches and allow jetski to operate, whats with this guys? just arrest this low profil guys on the beach. there are not even thai anymore. more and more burmese are working there. anyway i can not understand why everbody is scared of this very dump beach guys...

Posted by mike on April 24, 2011 21:55

Editor Comment:

It's called 'Intimidation.'

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"Whenever we have problems we have been able to settle them by negotiation. Insurance is not essential.''

yeh, right negotiation ( intimidation)

Posted by mikey on April 24, 2011 23:22

Editor Comment:

There have been no accounts of problems at Bang Tao of the kind that are constant at Patong. The point is that insurance has not prevented extortion, just made it more complicated.

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I have also seen what the jet-ski operators do, many times. The Royal Thai Navy had a location right next to the Tourist Police Volunteer Centre, it was closed last year. Having read comments by their 'Chief' recently, I do not think they are the right people to get involved.

Posted by Phuket Kop on April 24, 2011 23:29

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Regardless of what we think of Phuketwan's solutions to the problem (I think they deserve serious considerations), big kudos to the paper as well as to the editor for bringing up the subject in such a straightforward fashion. Unfortunately, this issue has been debated for the past 15 years, and will be debated during the next 15 years. Nothing will change for the better, but every try is welcome.

Posted by Theodor on April 25, 2011 02:24

Editor Comment:

With that negative approach, include me out. I'm never going to be a part of your ''we,'' Theodor, whoever ''we'' might be.

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Mr Editor I agree with your comments, But something more has to be done. The constant patroling of beaches by uniformed police give tourists an uneasy feeling. I don't know what the answer is, I guess we just have to keep coming up with ideas and one will work.

Posted by Ritchard on April 25, 2011 06:29

Editor Comment:

That's one reason why the Navy, with its sparkling white uniforms, is the appropriate enforcement agency.

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I don't think the sparkling white uniforms can disguise the attitudes broadcasted by Khun Phuripat.

Just do what Krabi did and ban the Jet Skis alltogether. Isn't their 7y grace period up now anyway ?

The authorities have been unsurprisingly quiet about that but it's a solution announced years ago. Just enforce it now and I guarantee you there will be no more bad press or jet ski extortions.

Posted by Chris on April 25, 2011 10:03

Editor Comment:

The time when it might have been possible to get rid of jet-skis entirely has passed. Only those without the ability to face reality maintain this mindless mantra.

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"have seen many times tourists charged 30,000 baht for a night at a pub bar, and tuk-tuk drivers beat up the tourists"
Living 6 years in Patong, never see a scam in bar: the prices are written everywhere and if u wanna drink is only your fault: none try to scam you... may be cause the owner most of the time isn't Thai??

Posted by Richard on April 25, 2011 10:42

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Thanks ED: I read once again your 4 points to solve the problem. Number 1 and 2 are old stories, already debated and already failed.
Number 3, if I well remember, already found a refusal from Navy (so why didn't remove them jet ski from Surin and Laem Sing yet?). And number 4: do you want the jet-ski operators blockade the main road over Patong Hill? (cause they show already many times that are a compact group). Many replays as your style (possibile or not),so why only suggestions yours should be right?

Posted by Dave on April 25, 2011 10:51

Editor Comment:

Wrong again, Dave. The Navy has no existing control over the jet-skis. We are suggesting that the Navy be given authority to patrol Patong beach and intervene in jet-ski disputes. The rest of your points are, to be frank, or to be Dave, quite ignorant.

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Quote ED ;The time when it might have been possible to get rid of jet-skis entirely has passed."
Why, in your words, Ed is it now not possible to get rid of jetskis entirely?

Posted by davidj on April 25, 2011 10:57

Editor Comment:

The jet-ski operators, having been allowed to operate for 20 years, would have a claim in law to unjust treatment if they were denied their occupation now. That's the problem: lack of action and resolve, weakness and poor judgement over decades, has made the best solution impossible. If only the people who are now calling for action had acted sensibly years ago.

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Dear ED I well accept your replay if ignorant is in the meaning "I dont know"..
Sincerly what is's difficult to accept here is you against all the world cause you are all the time right..
Many people try to suggest many things, stupid, ignorant or not, but only your solution(s) should be the right one(s).
How is possible you didn't realized yet that there is no soft solution?!?! So welcome in my opinion some strong decision FOREVER! all the rest will be applied for not longer than one month (as for the public parking on Patong beach).

Posted by Dave on April 25, 2011 11:52

Editor Comment:

Dave, it's one solution, a package. It won't work without all four items being actioned. That's part of the problem - people imagined that insurance alone would solve the problem. It won't. We make our comprehensive suggestion having talked to people involved and having seen first-hand on several occasions what happens on Patong beach now. Confiscation of jet-skis is hardly ''soft.''

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Ed, I certainly agree with you on this - anyone expecting the law to be enforced on Phuket certainly is mindless and seriously detatched from the reality.

Yet, somehow, after years of Jet-Ski operations in Krabi, they managed to ban them just by enforcing the law.

I wonder why they can and Phuket can't.

Posted by Chris on April 25, 2011 12:14

Editor Comment:

Because there were never vast numbers of jet-skis allowed to operate for decades.

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I believe that the media is partly to blame for this situation.

If they had shown more of a backbone 10 or 15 years ago to properly cover this issue then awareness could have been raised much higher than it was.

Posted by Rob on April 25, 2011 12:27

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What about a centralised repair shop where all damaged skis are taken for repair. Monitor the shop and you monitor the whole game.

Posted by Soupdragon on April 25, 2011 14:25

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"Require all operators to re-register, at the same time reducing the number of jet-ski operators on Phuket from 219 to 160"
"The time when it might have been possible to get rid of jet-skis entirely has passed"
You seem to be contradicting yourself here Ed you can either shut down these guys or you can't, which one is it? If you can close down 59 operators why not all?

Posted by Steve on April 25, 2011 16:27

Editor Comment:

Jet-ski operators of good character won't object if the ''Mafia'' among them are removed, but they're likely to be less thrilled if all good as well as bad operators are forced to cease work. Throwing out the good with the bad is a problem. Hardly a contradiction.

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Ed you also state "The jet-ski operators, having been allowed to operate for 20 years, would have a claim in law to unjust treatment if they were denied their occupation now." I would imagine the bad guys also have their lawyers, and who exactly would be the person to decide who would be the bad operators that would be closed down? Seems a bit unworkable to me.

Posted by Steve on April 25, 2011 17:02

Editor Comment:

Your view is it's ''a bit unworkable.'' That's like saying someone is ''a bit pregnant,'' Steve. Our views is it's the best idea going. What was your idea again?

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Making silly snide comments on the phrasing of a post is churlish, I would have thought you bigger than that Ed. I did not say I had an idea that would work, only that yours would not.

Posted by Steve on April 25, 2011 17:25

Editor Comment:

We don't devote time and energy as journalists to have people with nothing to contribute dismiss good ideas out of hand. That's churlish.

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Ed sorry but just because it's your idea doesn't make it good, I do not dismiss your views "out of hand" as you state. I have given my reasons which you have chosen not to address, but you would rather make childish comments which serve no purpose. If you really believe yourself to be a professional journalist then you really are living in cloud cuckoo land.

Posted by Steve on April 26, 2011 00:00

Editor Comment:

Why say ''sorry''? You're just another of the carping, condescending knockers who has nothing to add. You knock for ''no purpose''. That's sad, Steve.

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It feels like this guy thinks he can save the patient (Phuket) by cutting off the patient's head! I wonder what all tourists who have yet to discover the "niceties" of Phuket thinks when a lame excuse is "we are only half as bad as the taxi drivers blockading the port and beating up tourists". I think this guy needs his head examined. Poppycock!

Posted by pclind on April 26, 2011 12:32

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A few years back i saw a blatant rip involving motorbikes, they called the police and they seemed to take the side of the Thai nationals what chance do the people have not too much. Dont these people care that they are destroying the tourist trade as when people return home they complain. I cant see why the police just dont shut the jetski operators down,One Brit got home and it aired on national TV this did much harm
to the tourism trade as people think twice before venturing to Thailand

Posted by Alex on April 28, 2011 10:03

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The place is going down hill and when it has finally been played out,all the bottom-feeders from the Thai hinter land will leave along with the jet ski and tuk tuk crooks just like after the tsunami, they left in their droves and we can have the old Patong back. Ed if we had jet-skis 20 years ago there must have been only 1 or 2 because I don't remember seeing the annoying buggers, then again I'm not the font of all knowledge as your put-down comments seem to indicate you are.I await either your sarcastic comment or ban.

Posted by Scunner on April 29, 2011 06:54

Editor Comment:

Perhaps it's time you decided whether you're opposed to the jet-skis or opposed to the editor, Scunner. You seem confused about what really matters. Unable to tell bad from good? Too long in Patong?

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I've known Phuket since 1995 and it was pretty bad then already, getting worse until I decided no to go there again.
The locals don't get it: It's a fact of PR and marketing: When a customer is happy, he/she will tell 10 people, if he/she is UNhappy he/she will tell 100!

Posted by Dr Moss on May 12, 2011 16:30


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