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Simon Burrowes's passport: the photo that started it all

Phuket's 'Rude' Tourist Given Air Ticket to Ride

Tuesday, May 12, 2009
ALL BEING well at Phuket Immigration, Simon Burrowes flies out on Friday, heading for Britain and home after the holiday of a lifetime in Thailand.

His flight has been paid for by an anonymous Thai benefactor who wants to demonstrate to the world that Thailand is a far more pleasant place than the Burrowes case has made it seem.

The last time Mr Burrowes attempted to catch a flight back to Britain he was arrested at the airport Immigration counter for ''being rude,'' then kept in a crowded Phuket Jail for three weeks.

Unable to leave Thailand until his court case was heard, the 44-year-old martial arts trainer lost the fare for his non-refundable flight, his job, and his rented apartment back in Britain.

And all because he had lost his temper at the airport, but in circumstances that many people could understand.

His legitimate passport was questioned by officials, and he realised that he was in danger of missing his flight.

A few choice swear words later and he was destined for the slammer, with no assistance coming from the British Embassy until after he was in jail and it was too late.

With the punishment far greater than the crime, many people realised the injustice of the Simon Burrowes case, including the Phuket special prosecutor's office, where the prosecutor and his staff did their best to help.

Now the gift of an air ticket home from a Thai helps even more to demonstrate that Thailand is filled with caring people, with the harshness of the Burrowes case an exception, not the rule.

Mr Burrowes celebrated with a pasta buffet at the Cape Panwa Hotel on Monday evening, a dinner turned on by assistant manager and trouble-shooter Tim Laven, who found himself acting as go-between for a good deed.

''A manager here was contacted by the Thai man who wanted to help Simon, then I was in turn contacted as an English person who could speak to Simon and explain the situation,'' Mr Laven said.

''The gentleman who did this was concerned that the portrayal of Thai people in the world media does not reflect the Thai people.

''Simon was alone in Thailand and needed some help.''

Phuketwan reporter Chutima Sidasathian assisted earlier with Mr Burrowes' visa problem, which developed because he was in jail when his old visa expired.

On the day he leaves, Mr Burrowes will have to go through a carefully orchestrated procedure to renew his visa before he catches the flight.

His paperwork will need to be correct when he fronts the Immigration counter at Phuket airport all over again.

The initial confrontation developed because an Immigration official did the right thing in querying Mr Burrowes's passport.

Mr Burrowes admitted later to Phuketwan that at the time the passport was issued, it was an old photograph, one taken when he was younger.

And he was also not wearing a shirt, which Thais find unacceptable, a sensitivity not shared by the British passport-issuing authorities.

The passport was issued nine years ago in Melbourne, before the air terror of 9/11 alerted the world to the need for better standard passports and thorough checks.

At the Immigration desk, the Thai official did the right thing in questioning what was in front of her: a suspicious old passport, containing a dodgy photograph.

The pity of it is that the British Embassy was unable to confirm at the time that the passport was genuine, and so his travails in Thailand began.

Simon Burrowes, a British citizen returning home on Friday after a holiday in Thailand that lasted an extra three months, is still owed one more big apology . . . by the British Foreign Office.

Special Prosecutor Bundit Sujjapongse says he is keen to help any expat facing difficulties with the law on Phuket. His telephone numbers are 076 213694 and 081 9651327.

Rude Phuket Awakening for 'Impolite' Tourist Simon
Photo Album As he waited to catch a flight home from Phuket in January, British tourist Simon Burrowes had no idea that his holiday in Thailand was about to take a troubled twist.
Rude Phuket Awakening for 'Impolite' Tourist Simon

Briton Fined 500 Baht for Being Impolite
Latest A British man whose case was widely noted when he was jailed after an encounter at Phuket Airport Immigration has been fined 500 baht in a Phuket court.
Briton Fined 500 Baht for Being Impolite

Jailed Tourist Blames 'Embassy Passport Error'
Latest Two British newspapers have published Simon Burrowes' version of the Thai Immigration encounter that left him in jail for three weeks. He faces prison for allegedly swearing at officials.
Jailed Tourist Blames 'Embassy Passport Error'

Lessons from One Phuket Tourist's Nightmare
Latest Analysis Phuket's Burrowes affair probably alarms many people. Tourists can sympathise with a man who wants to catch a flight and is wrongly accused of carrying a faked passport.
Lessons from One Phuket Tourist's Nightmare

Arguing with Phuket Immigration: Is It Safe?
Latest Questions are being asked by tourists about the case of a man who was arrested and jailed following an argument with Immigration officials at Phuket Airport. Is it too high a price to pay?
Arguing with Phuket Immigration: Is It Safe?

Briton 'Jailed on Phuket for Being Rude'
Latest A British man says he was detained on his way out of Phuket and held in jail for ''being rude'' to an Immigration official. Phuketwan will update as more facts emerge.
Briton 'Jailed on Phuket for Being Rude'

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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"At the Immigration desk, the Thai official did the right thing in questioning what was in front of her: a suspicious old passport, containing a dodgy photograph."
LOL

Just never pass up an opportunity to include a subjective, biased comment in your editing, do you ?

Editor: The article carries a byline. The opinions in it are those of the author. Most readers manage to work that out. Anonymous, self-appointed media watchers just take a little longer.

Posted by Media Watching on May 13, 2009 12:13


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