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Phuket jet-ski operators vote on accepting the insurance deal

Phuket's Jet-Skis: Insurance Deal Ends Crisis

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
A DEAL was signed today that makes it compulsory for all Phuket jet-skis to be insured. The signing ends a series of crisis meetings that followed claims that tourists have frequently been scammed over jet-ski ''damage.''

Yet to be resolved is the case involving one jet-ski operator, Winai ''JJ'' Naiman, in which he was caught on film in two separate incidents demanding large sums of money from British marines and US marines.

Today's Provincial Hall meeting of about 30 people, mostly jet-ski operators, looked on as the Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob, Ayuthaya Insurance representative Saiwalee Sakomjib and Phuket Jet-Ski Association President Anusorn Saley signed the agreement.

''Now I let you decide,'' the governor told the jet-ski operators in Phuket City. ''You have to be fair.''

He has promised a crackdown if more problems generate another wave of criticism from diplomats of the kind that sparked the crisis meetings.

One jet-ski operator asked if the governor could persuade Phuket beachfront resorts not to issue warnings to guests about jet-skis. Governor Wichai replied: ''If you do a good job, the warnings will disappear.''

The insurance arrangement, which will be compulsory for all 219 licenced Phuket jet-skis, has two forms of coverage.

For 13,500 baht a year, a jet-ski hirer is insured for up to 40,000 baht in hospital expenses, and 100,000 baht in damage to the machine.

For 9400 baht a year, the hirer is insured for 20,000 baht in hospital cover, and 50,000 baht in damage to the machine.

The policy covers most outcomes but not loss or theft, or wear and tear. The insurer has to pay the first 1000 baht in making claims under either scale.

By coincidence, a reality television documentary entitled 'Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand' screened in Britain just before the first Phuket jet-ski crisis meeting.

Two incidents involving Mr Naiman became the focus of media attention, and led to his arrest on a charge of extorting money with menace.

New, uncut footage of the incident placed online is said to show that the makers of the series cut and replaced the original audio in the key confrontation.

Film-maker Gavin Hill, who left for Britain amid accusations that the entire incident was not genuine and discredited Thailand, said all the editing was done in Britain.

Other episodes in the eight-part series have so far proved less controversial. But Mr Hill did say there was one incident filmed on Samui involving a jet-ski operator that was even more alarming than the one on Phuket.
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Andrew Drummond - an apology

Dear Sir,

As a journalist based in Thailand I feel it is my duty to apologise for the wrong assumptions and unfair treatment Thailand received this year over an incident involving a jet-ski the Royal Marines and a very respectable businessmen called JJ.

Contrary to reports overseas the Marine Jack Tebbott was in fact so mortified for damaging a jet ski, that he walked three miles to the jet-ski owners private house to apologise and was not, as some reports suggest, taken there against his own will.

In addition he called his friends in the Royal Marines to help him with the apology as he thought a group apology would be better.
He admitted many times that he was guilty even though he rather thought, that as the damage was to the side of the boat, his left leg might have noticed.

He even called in his boss in the Marine Police, Sergeant Tim Wright, to apologise too.

The man known as JJ had described on camera how he dealt with foreigners who did not pay up. But this gesture of slapping his fist into his hand could not in any way be interpreted as an indication of physical violence. In any case knowing these tv people it was probably taken from a cookery programme in which he demonstrates how to grind spices for tom yam kung.

Indeed it is quite clear from the documentary 'Big Trouble in Thailand', that footage which showed Marines and JJ laughing and joking and making small talk was in fact substituted with audio suggesting that they were alarmed when JJ produced a toy gun.

Clearly the sound track which appeared to show JJ saying : ''These mother ****.rs! are not going to mess with me'' must have come from a totally different incident , also his reference to the Marines as ***** must have been edited in as the producers must be very familiar with impolite Thai slang.

There clearly is a cut in the film during the gun scene which makes things suspicious. I am sure it cannot be because of the feeble excuse that JJ told the crew not to film any of the other two guns in his armoury.

There is of course a sequence which shows some swearing between the Marine Police Sergeant and JJ. This friendly banter has of course been misinterpreted. Marine Sergeant Wright is not as JJ says, his father, pa, or dad, and JJ is indeed a normal person and a businessman.

There was a sequence in the film which also shows JJ saying that if the stain on the fibre glass is brown then the damage is old.
Sergeant Wright pointed out that the stain in this case was also brown. But it was decided by mutual agreement that in this case the brown meant that it was new damage.

Marine Jack was more than happy to pay out 35,000 Thai baht in damages and Tim and JJ were so happy that they shook hands on it in a spirit of warm conviviality.

In fact one Marine was so deliriously happy that he had to be held back by his comrades from kissing JJ on the check. But no! These film companies, who are obviously out to trash Thailand, do not show that sort of thing do they! Good news is not news is it!
Two policemen arrived at the same time as Sergeant Tim Wright and of course had anything untoward happened they would have done something.

In fact when JJ is negotiating and says his uncle is the local police chief, showing that he is indeed an upstanding citizen, I believe they even joined in a chorus together with Marine Jack in: ''We are men. We are men. We are not ladyboys. We are not katoeys. We don't run.''

To be quite frank, as Sergeant Wright has pointed out, Royal Marines were involved in five other jet ski incidents in June in two days in Patong Beach, Phuket, and had to pay damages on each occasion.

This quite clearly shows that these guys know nothing at all about watercraft. Sergeant Wright is mistaken when he refers accidentally to the jet ski operators as ''two bit low-lifes''. Either that or this was taken from another section when he was talking about the camera crew.

In fact jet-skis are really quite sophisticated machines which should not really put in the hands of foreigners. Proof is in the fact that between December and April this year in Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, over 150 foreigners had to pay up for damages.
In conclusion the Thai Film Board, Tourism Authority etc, Channel 3 and the Bangkok Post are all quite right in their assumptions.

Anybody Thai who had a hand in the making of 'Big Trouble in Thailand' and did not collude in showing a favourable image to the country should be brought to trial.

And JJ, who had no history of firearms offences (prior to an incident three day before the Marines arrived) should therefore receive an apology from the producers forthwith.

PS: The 500 baht taxi fare from Kalim to Patong is a very good deal by the way. Why are all these foreigners complaining. They're all rich are they not?

Posted by andrew on October 13, 2009 15:09

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Well done, Governor Wichai.

Hopefully the Phuket Jetski Operators will become famous for their hospitality, friendliness and for all the fun they provide the tourists. And they will see, without hassling the tourists, it will maybe be an even better business for them.

Make it a better and more efficient business, think about how to make it a better experience for your guests. How about a jetski club? Don't you want some value customer? How about jetski driving lesson specially for women or teenager? Don't lay awake at night and think about how to cheat the insurance or guests, think about how to be a even better service for Phuket's guests.

Think about how to get the jetski more time in the water. And if you bully jackass employees cannot change their behavior, get some new one or let them train properly. Do some marketing. And have a good future in the Phuket entertainment industry. Become adults.

Posted by Lena on October 13, 2009 19:00

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Oh. I thought, I am the first to respond. Now directly after the funny thing of Mr. Drummond, it looks a little odd.

Anyway, I really liked the whole letter. Witty, funny and fitting. Bravo.

But I like jetskiing. I would like to do it here also. So I hope the Governor's scheme is working. Please don't drop your coverage.

Posted by Lena on October 13, 2009 21:26

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andrew, fact is scams are daily basis in phuket

Posted by Mike on October 13, 2009 22:47


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