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Phuket's special summit meetings deal with national and local issues

Phuket Summit to Probe Island Arrests, Transport

Saturday, August 21, 2010
News Analysis

PHUKET'S honorary consuls and embassy representatives will meet with the Governor and Phuket's senior police and department leaders on Monday in the midst of a veritable expat crime wave.

Here's a gem plucked from the feedback section of the Bangkok Post this week: ''Phuket is the Crime Capital of Asia, by far the worst possible place for a tourist, foreign or Thai to visit. Murder, Rape and Assault are common place and no nationality is spared.''

Is it true? Definitely not. The sentence is a figment of someone's vivid imagination - which actually makes it very similar to most of the overly scary national travel alerts for Thailand of the past few months.

Tourists especially are seldom the victims of crime on Phuket, although it does seem that they definitely do need to look out for fellow-travellers lately.

In recent weeks, crimes committed by expats, sometimes on other expats, are what has been the cause of greatest concern, with the slaying of bar hostess Wanpen Pianchai by American Ronald Fanelli and the apparent murder of former US Marine DaShawn Longfellow by Englishman-fugitive Lee Aldhouse at the top of a growing list.

If there has been an increase in crime on the island, it has barely impacted on Phuket's tourists. In 99.9 percent of cases, they come and go without finding any trouble - beyond the excessive prices of food and local transport services.

It's the other 0.1 percent that bring most attention, though, the one in a thousand who commit a crime or are the victim of one.

At Monday's summit the crimes committed by and on expats will be a major focus. This is for two reasons: Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob and the Phuket police would like the honorary consuls to make sure that tourists coming to Phuket are aware that crimes will not be tolerated, and that a stint in Phuket Prison is no holiday.

For their part, the honorary consuls and embassy representatives will again ask Phuket's police to notify them immediately whenever an expat gets arrested. Lately, the telephones should have been running hot . . . yet often, the honorary consuls still find out about citizens' arrests from other sources.

Recognising the importance of the innovative ''mini-United Nations,'' the Foreign Ministry is taking a great interest and is holding a seminar of its own for national representatives on Monday morning.

Twenty-two nations have been invited to send representatives to Monday afternoon's summit meeting at Provincial Hall in Phuket City. However, the level of interest seems to vary considerably.

Germany's Ambassador to Thailand, Dr Hanns H. Schumacher, is making a special visit to Phuket. Yet on Friday, the US Embassy in Bangkok was unable to inform Phuketwan whether or not it would send a representative.

One of the most important issues for Phuket and tourism remains whether US Navy vessels can continue to anchor off the island for liberty without leave-taking personnel running the risk of blockades by local tuk-tuk and taxi drivers.

The latest group of US vessels was, we believe, due to visit Phuket in July. Phuketwan has been told the liberty leave was cancelled - not because of the three taxi and tuk-tuk blockades of US personnel that have occurred so far, but because the vessels were suddenly diverted to waters off the ''hot'' Korea Peninsula.

Officials at Provincial Hall in Phuket City, the island administration's HQ, have undertaken to make sure a fourth blockade does not occur, because that would put future US warship visits at risk. Only with the next visit by warships will that promise, and the island's capacity to restrain its wilder, lawless elements, be put to the test.

The governor's two quarterly special summits so far this year have been a productive exchange of ideas and innovations, with transparency at the core.

Thorny issues including high-priced tuk-tuks and taxis, plus the need for an efficient and reasonably priced public transport system, are again likely to be high on the agenda of items for discussion this Monday.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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The statement made at BKK post forum that "Phuket is the crime capital of Asia" . . . I do understand a little where it comes from.....

It is a fact that although crime is now more and more reported in the media (mainly by Phuket Wan - Thank you) we all know well that many-many crimes are never recorded at all! We all cannot deny that Phuket can be very violent!

There are many crimes settled out of court with money and with the full knowledge of the law enforcement!

I still cannot understand (and never will) why it is accepted by law enforcement that people are allowed to settled serious crimes without law enforcement involvement - even when the crime committed was clearly violent and/or against the law. This shows clearly that money is more important than the law or the right actions!

Phuket is however safer for foreigners than it is for our fellow Thai friends. Thais can get hit for simply looking in another person's face after dark! Whereby most foreigner are in trouble because they somehow asked for the trouble - with a some exceptions of course.

Keep up your good work. I am 100 percent certain that your work helps a lot and keeps the authorities awake! (Although i am also certain that sometimes you also face big obstacles when reporting the trues!)

Posted by Mr. K on August 21, 2010 15:11

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The unresolved deaths of foreigners, the jet ski scams and the never ending tuk-tuk and taxi scams will keep Phuket in the limelight for some time to come. As the previous poster illustrated, it's the "unreported" crime that only adds to this debacle.

I believe the most obvious thing is the the continual tuk-tuk scam that reminds those in the know that no real action is being taken by the authorities to change this image.

I, for one, will not return to Phuket any time in the foreseeable future.

Posted by Happy farang on August 21, 2010 18:33

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Phuket needs a newspaper like pattayone or pattayadailynews to report ALL of the ugliness, not this joke of political correct POS called phuketwan. Have a nice day editor, yes, I'm talking to you, and you know damn well I'm right, but you are too scared to post it!

Posted by BOM on August 21, 2010 18:41

Editor Comment:

Phuket only needs a Pattaya-style news outlet if one of these days it develops Pattaya-style problems. Fortunately, that seems unlikely.

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Dear BOM
Your comments are not fair.

I am one of the first who complained to Phuket Wan when i don't like something - such as pictures of death kids!

However, Phuket Wan is now surely the most reliable news source for Phuket.

Why don't you blame other media in Phuket who bend to the pressure and made it a policy NOT to report any crime?
I do agree, the all media could do much more in reporting! Reporting ALL will bring change in the long term.
People who know Phuket well and people who are committed to Phuket appreciate Phuket Wan as THE news source which started to report and write what others don't dare or care.

Posted by Mr. K on August 22, 2010 10:29

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Editor,
believe you may be a bit dillusional if you deny that you have problems in Phuket that are similar those in Pattaya. The tuk-tuk problem doesn't apply in Pattaya and that seems to be the the long standing and most reported scam that applies to Phuket. Imagine how many are unreported due to unknowing tourists. It also seems to be a problem that they continually refuse to fully address.

Posted by Happy farang on August 22, 2010 12:13

Editor Comment:

And that's why there can be no real comparisons between Pattaya and Phuket. The problems are quite different here to there.

''Imagine how many are unreported due to unknowing tourists.'' We are not at liberty to report your imaginings. In many instances in the past, we've discovered that what people imagine happened and what actually did happen are very different. The whole point of Phuketwan publishing the expat lists - something no other publication has ever sought to do - is to demolish some of the myths.

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Editor,
You really are dillusional. There may be a few problems that relate to one and not the other, but both share the bulk of the problems that are slowly putting tourists off visiting Thailand as the word gets out internationally.
I laud your publication for publishing the list of expat deaths. Adding their ages might also enhance the info.
(moderated)

Posted by Happy farang on August 22, 2010 14:19

Editor Comment:

It's odd how so many respondents of a certain kind offer comments in a regular pattern: first, insult the editor; second, praise Phuketwan; third, dare them to do something really interesting that the respondent wouldn't ever do themselves. Thank you, happy farang, but no thanks. We are not delusional.

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The "non-reporting" of Phuket's problems by the local Thai press is alarming. My Thai g/f gets much more information from my reporting to her from Phuketwan than she gets from local media.

Posted by mike on August 22, 2010 15:47

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''Phuket is the Crime Capital of Asia, by far the worst possible place for a tourist, foreign or Thai to visit. Murder, Rape and Assault are common place and no nationality is spared.''

I am hard pressed to believe that of all the cities and towns in Asia, Phuket is crime central. I would be more inclined to believe somewhere in the Philippines would hold the title.

Posted by Anonymous on August 22, 2010 17:19

Editor Comment:

Well, it's certainly not true of Phuket. I don't know where people get these ideas, or why they spread such lies. The statistics may not be perfect, but they just don't support that kind of wild and ridiculous allegation.

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Wonder always, where these anonym farang go on Phuket to encounter so much unreported crime. Really do. Must be some crime bubble not to be seen for a muggle like me. Or maybe because I do not go out after midnight in Patong.

Posted by Lena on August 22, 2010 18:25

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Dear K. Lena
The anonym Farang is invited many times to help at the police station with translations when foreigners are in trouble. And he also does charity work and contributes to the society. He also is a guest speaker at 2 leading universities and very close to the local community as he lives on the island since over 30 years.
When mingling, listing, observing, teaching, helping and contributing to society, you will hear and see and understand lots of things others don't.

Posted by Mr, K on August 22, 2010 19:02

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Mistah K: Get out of your Lion Club/Rotary comfy zone and smell the fear of real life Phuket. 30 years? Why on earth do well meaning and probably highly educated farang waste all of their good years in this hopeless third world backyard? THAT's the big mystery to me. Losers back home, eh?

Posted by BOM on August 23, 2010 05:54

Editor Comment:

BOM, I guess this is your version of a stimulating discussion.

There are only two kinds of countries these days, developed countries and developing countries. The concept of a ''third world'' disappeared with the second world, communism, back in the 1980s.


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