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Phuket's Neighbor, Where Moral Decay Gnaws at a Tropical Paradise

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
PHUKET: A devastating new report highlights ''prostitution, rape, suicide, and alcoholism and the indifferent attitude of religious and civil society organisations in tackling the menace eating into society.''

There may be a Phuket edge to the topics but this dramatic crisis in moray decay is actually being reported from Phuket's forlorn, remote neighbor to the west, the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

There was a time when A&N leaders thought that Phuket was far too permissive to be associated with in any way. But the shock report by journalist Zubair Ahmed has raised some nasty A&N social trends that make Phuket or even Pattaya seem like Sunday school outings.

''It is an open secret that school children in various schools of the city are addicted to substances and prone to alcoholism,'' he writes. ''Suicides rates are on a steep rise, with four cases reported last couple of weeks, including two policemen.''

This is once-pleasant Port Blair, capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. How times have changed. There was a period when all that was heard from A&N were occasional reports of natives with spears aggressively repelling any contact with the outside world.

A strategically important Indian outpost in the Indian Ocean now being eyed by China, A&N is perhaps best known as a haven for long-distance sailors and Rohingya boatpeople pushed back by Thailand.

Today urban decay appears to have reached even these remote shores, writes Ahmed in a local weekly online news magazine, lightofandaman.com.

''Hordes of girls from Diglipur, Havelock and even Little Andaman come to the city for prostitution,'' he reports. ''Everyone accepts it.''

Worse, sexual favors are now being widely used by ''smart workers who exploit the weakness of their bosses for money, appointment, transfer, relatives' appointment, promotions and also to get even with rivals in service.

''The malaise has reached a stage where it has started hurting the simple, innocent and hardworking women employees who wish to remain faithful to their husbands and family values,'' he adds. ''It is being discussed in drawing rooms and in coffee houses; though in hushed tones.

''These are a few incidents sufficient to gauge the depth of the abyss the Island society has plunged into. The rot in the society is visible to the naked eye.''

Intriguingly, he writes: ''Nothing prevents two consenting adults from having sex in government guest houses and bathrooms; it is not a cognisable offence either. But when sex of senior government officers moves up from their groins and occupies the space in their brains, it assumes maniac proportion and become a matter for public concern.''

A&N religious leaders recognise the enormous social issues yet struggle to cope, Ahmed writes.

Is there any hope for swift improvement in this one-time tropical paradise? Apparently not.

''Without accountability and fear of God, we cannot expect a major change,'' he reports the island's bishop as saying.

Comments

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Welcome to the 'real world'...

Posted by Resident on September 13, 2011 15:43

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Thank you, reporter Ahmed. I suspect news from grey haired "paratrooper-tourists" jumping off charter planes halfway from India to Phuket. The new new cheap cheap is Port Blair. The next year pushbacks will be declared Visa Runs.

Posted by Lena on September 14, 2011 03:58


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