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Knife attack victim Rupert Wilhelmstatter was recovering in ICU tonight

Phuket Must Show It Cares About All Tourists Not Just Some, Some of the Time

Wednesday, December 7, 2011
News Analysis

PHUKET: The shocking photograph above of Austrian Rupert Wilhelmstatter should alarm everyone who cares about tourism and Phuket.

It was taken with a mobile telephone soon after Mr Wilhelmstatter's motorcycle was kicked from beneath him by a couple of Phuket boys bent on theft.

In the struggle that followed, Mr Wilhelmstatter defended himself. Tonight, in Bangkok Hospital Phuket's intensive care unit, the picture was completely different.

Mr Wilhelmstatter was looking much better, sitting up bare-chested, still on oxygen and being monitored, but chatting and smiling.

His right hand is heavily bandaged. It has been badly cut and will need more surgery. We figure that in defending himself, he grabbed the knife's blade.

Whether the shallow wound to his right side was delivered with the same knife or another, we can't say. His recovery, we learned, has been hampered by congestion in his chest and problems with the blood supply in his right thigh.

It is difficult as hospital visitors over the past couple of days for Phuketwan not to compare Mr Wilhelmstatter's case and that of another tourist about the same age, Russian Nikolai Nefedov, who underwent more surgery today on his badly cut left leg, just down the road in Phuket City at Vachira Hospital Phuket.

Mr Nefedov was struck by the propeller of a wayward speedboat on Friday. Since his fortunate escape from an extremely dangerous situation, he and his wife have faced added expense and the trauma such an unexpected injury brings while on holiday.

In Mr Wilhelmstatter's case, police have reacted. Several other tourists had been attacked over a period of days, although none had sustained injuries of the kind Mr Wilhelmstatter suffered.

Five boys - children, really, at the ages of 13 and 14 - are now in detention and will probably serve time there if found guilty of the attacks.

In Mr Nefedov's case, there's a blank space where the official reaction should be.

Phuketwan today contacted Phuripat Theerakulpisut, Chief of Phuket's Marine Office 5, and it was the first he had heard of the propeller knifing into Mr Nefedov as the speedboat, with only the driver on board, ripped into a swimmers-only section of Kata beach.

Such incidents, he said, were accidents and he added, ''natural.''

Two cases involving serious injuries to tourists, two totally different reactions.

There has been no official request from Mr Wilhelmstatter to have his attackers arrested. Yet police have, thankfully, brought in the people responsible.

There has been no official request from Mr Nefedov to have the perpetrator of his seriously-injured leg brought to account. And nothing has happened.

No so much as a reprimand has been delivered. Given the official approach, a reprimand will never come.

The speedboat driver is still out there.

The five boys will serve time for their crime. The speedboat driver? No official reaction, no cause for concern or alarm . . . no problem.

If there is another propeller striking a tourist, will it be ''natural'' all over again? We wonder.

Marine Office 5's Khun Phuripat is correct about one point.

These things - kids out of control, or a speedboat out of its zone - will happen. But they are sure to happen more often than they should if there is no reaction when they do happen.

Importantly for Phuket, the way that officials react to serious incidents is how all tourists can quickly tell whether a destination really cares about the safety and security of its visitors, or not.

Does Phuket care? The answer is, sometimes.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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This is becoming alarming if officials don't sit up and take note Thailand will go to the bottom of the list of places to visit with some safety. This industry (tourism) is the most important for thailand as it brings the money in and sustains many peoples livelihoods.These attacks should be investigated and the offenders charged to send out warnings to others thinking of offending that the penalty is not worth the crime.
As to the speedboat incident again this sends out warnings to the world that tourists are not safe and will go elsewhere.
I love thailand the most important thing about the country is the people this is what draws me back time and time again.Also in closing I thank your organisation for keeping me up to date with the happenings in Thailand keep up the good work
Alex

Posted by Alex on December 8, 2011 01:03

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"Such incidents, he said, were accidents and he added, ''natural.'' "

BS. If the speedboats didn't go where the roped off areas for swimmers are, there would be no "accidents".

Posted by larry on December 8, 2011 06:41

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People are getting tired of this as it is a recurring problem and nothing ever gets done about it. Get rid of all speedboats and jet-skis, they're a menace and are lethal

Posted by Ian on December 8, 2011 06:43

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I have been following the comments and actions of Khun Phuripat for the past two years and IMO at every opportunity he jumps up to defend the right to rip off tourists and expats.

At several consular meetings he has also made his anti-foreign attitudes crystal clear.

During his reign the jet-ski and speed boat incidents have only worsened, yet he fails to take any action whatsoever and in his unmistakeable style, refers to such avoidable accidents like this of Mr Nefedov as "natural".

Talking about adding insult to injury, huh ? I don't expect anything to change.

Posted by Steve C. on December 8, 2011 10:12

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That's right, Thailand doesn't care about.. well, anything and it is hardly news. Chinese and Indians will fill the tourism gaps and will be far, far less demanding. Plan accordingly.

Posted by Media Watcher on December 8, 2011 10:16

Editor Comment:

The article is specific, Media Watcher. Your sweeping bigotry is not.

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If it's "bigotry" to see things for how they really are, then I'm very glad to be so.

Posted by Media Watcher on December 8, 2011 12:17

Editor Comment:

It's bigotry to ascribe traits to all 68 million people in a country when I reckon your experience is probably limited to a few.

''Thailand doesn't care about.. well, anything and it is hardly news.'' Just ain't accurate, Media Watcher.

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[quote]
Such incidents, he said, were accidents and he added, ''natural.'
[/quote]

Khun Phuripat Theerakulpisut, you should be ashamed of yourself!

There was nothing 'natural' about this event. Start taking responsibility for looking after our tourists, and stop making excuses for those who caused this event

Simon Luttrell

Posted by Simon Luttrell on December 8, 2011 12:44

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Yes, Khun Phuripat, accidents are natural. The natural result of failing to take care. While you see that as a way of explaining or even excusing them, more responsible countries attempt to reduce accidents through education, training and strict enforcement of health and safety regulations. I guess that would be going too far in Thailand, though.

Posted by Martin on December 8, 2011 16:45

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Natural? Natural is biting into a chili and reaching for something cool to drink. It is unnatural to be swimming in an area designated as for swimmers only and to be hit by a speeding motor boat.

Posted by Anonymous on December 9, 2011 14:38


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