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Some of the finest resorts in the world line the coast of Phumet and the Andaman

Phuket Stays Safe, Says Island's Police Chief

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
UPDATE

DESPITE the escalation of Bangkok violence and outbreaks in northern provinces, Phuket and the Andaman remain perfectly safe for tourists, as the island's top police officer first told Phuketwan earlier this week.

Original Report

PHUKET is an extremely safe place, the island's Chief of Police, Major General Pekad Tantipong, said today. There was no danger of serious political protests on the holiday island.

''This is the best place to be in Thailand,'' he said. ''Some other provinces have had attacks on banks, attacks on provincial halls or government buildings. There has been nothing of that kind here.''

A live grenade with the pin thoroughly wrapped in gaffer tape was left hanging on the security door at the local office of the yellow shirt ASTV television network in Phuket City last week.

But Major General Pekad believes that was probably an action by an individual, rather than any group. Red leaders had told yellow supporters, who had held several peaceful public protests urging army action against the Bangkok reds, to ''cool it.''

The difficulty for Phuket's small force of 1100 officers is that 173 police are being sent in rotation each week to bolster the thousands of police involved in the Bangkok operation. The longer the protests continues, the greater the strain on all police on Phuket, who are not being given extra time off.

''People here understand both sides,'' he said. Tourist Police and volunteer police are assisting in law enforcement and the Phuket Governor's ''1000 eyes of the pineapple'' local volunteer project provides assistance with security patrols.

Phuket's recent history of protests is highlighted by the three-day yellow invasion of Phuket International Airport in August 2008 as a prelude to the longer occupation of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport three months later.

As the majority on Phuket, where most people vote for the ruling Democrat Party, the yellows have sometimes sought to prevent the small but active group of reds from enjoying their democratic right to meet and discuss politics.

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