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Jet-skis on Phuket . . . scams occur frequently on Patong beach

More Shocks to Come in Phuket Jet-Ski Scandal

Sunday, September 13, 2009
Phuketwan News Analysis

MORE jet-ski confrontations are expected to be screened on the television series that has finally revealed the extent of the notorious Phuket scam to Thais and tourists alike.

A stand-off to come is said to be even more shocking than the one shown in the first episode of 'Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand.'

For the first time, a serious attempt appears to be underway to reverse the damage done over many years to Phuket's reputation as a hospitable and safe place for a holiday.

As with the crackdown and arrests following the rip-offs that are rife at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport, Phuket needs to be freed of corruption involving tourists. Governor Wichai Praisa-nob seems willing to attempt that, beginning with jet-skis.

The shame and the scorn of honest Thais towards the perpetrators appears to be among his most potent weapons. Mainstream Thai television channels have screened the incident and it can be viewed on the internet at YouTube.

Governor Wichai already plans to create a gallery data base of all jet-ski operators. He has sent photographs of Winai ''JJ,'' Naiman to embassies, asking whether Mr Naiman has been involved in ''stings'' that triggered complains from China, Australia, Britain and Japan.

''JJ,'' whose face-off with British marines featured in the first show, stands accused of attempting extortion, with a gun in hand.

The governor says that whether or not the ''reality'' television show is genuine, the sight of a jet-ski rental operator threatening a British tourist with a gun will tarnish Thailand's reputation.

Gavin Hill, producer-director of 'Big Trouble,' insisted to Phuketwan that the incident is genuine, not staged for the cameras. He says in ''JJ's defence, however, that there is no way of confirming whether the alleged ''damage'' to the jet-ski was real or imaginary.

After his unusual trial by television, Mr Naiman has been allowed bail pending court action.

While the scam of claiming for false ''damage'' is well known, not all jet-ski operators are party to rip-offs.

A large meeting last week heard that the problem mostly centred on Patong. Kathu Police Superintendent Colonel Grissak Songmoonnark said that in 2007, jet-ski ''damage'' reported to local police amounted to 1 million baht.

That increased in 2008 to 2.5 million baht. There was one claim of 300,000 baht when two jet-skis collided, he said. And there would have been many cases that did not reach the police.

Anusorn Sahea, president of the Jetski Association of Bangtao, said there were 11 jet-skis registered for Bangtao, but none of the problems associated with Patong.

''We are glad to have this meeting and would like the problem stopped,'' he told the assembly of operators and officials from all over Phuket. ''This is the first time that anyone has brought us all together to look at the issue.''

The governor scheduled the Scam Summit before the 'Big Trouble' series went to air, based on a number of complaints by tourists to embassies. Some ambassadors even complained to the Prime Minister and the Deputy PM.

While ''accident'' insurance has been suggested as one answer to the problem and insurance companies have expressed interest, the high cost of premiums is likely to make that proposed solution uneconomical.

A system where jet-skis are photographed each time before being hired out may be a better idea. And having honest jet-ski rental operators would solve all future problems.

Beyond the scams, zoning, swimmer safety, noise and nuisance and a strategic reduction in the numbers of jet-skis are all issues that need to be addressed.

The second episode of 'Big Trouble' screens on British television on Monday night. A large audience on the other side of the world will be waiting to see what shocks are yet to come.

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Photo Album Phuket's Governor has told the island's jetski operators to clean up their act, or else. His plain speaking warning came as VIPs from China told Phuket to protect their tourists.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Beside the scam, jet ski are dangerous & pollute so much. It is SO smelly in Patong. They start the engine of their jet ski on the beach, there is smoke. When you swim, you smell the fuel. Most of people who drive the jet ski, don't know how to drive and stay near the beach, making noise, polluting and driving very close to the swimmers. I'm always scare when i go underwater and i hear these jet ski. Phuket Governor should ban them. If they want to keep them, do like in Boracay (Philippines). Boats and jet ski are not allowed on the beach. They have a mobile jetty/base on the water at 300 meters from the beach. People who want to do jet ski, parasailing book their trip on the beach then a small boat send them to the jetty. They start from there and cannot come inside the 300 meters between the beach and the jetty. No pollution, no noise and save for the swimmer. I come to Phuket for 15 yrs and all the time i'm angry against these jet ski and parasailing. We are lucky that there is some other beautiful beaches quiet and save. Thanks to Phuketwan to highlight this problem to make a better Phuket.

Posted by JP on September 13, 2009 12:12


JP - I never knew that about Boracay and it seems like an easy fix to part of the problem. The bigger part of the scams will be harder...

I will make sure to have my microwave bag of popcorn for the next explosive installment. Thank the internet gurus for youtube and torrents.

Posted by Anonymous on September 13, 2009 18:47


Seems JJ and his mates shook down some yank marines for another 40,000 bht. Why is the damage always that much? Another nail in JJ and his crew's coffins.

Posted by Ian on September 14, 2009 00:44


Latest reports are that the obligatory scapegoat that local culture requires has been changed from JJ to Gavin Hill. Apparently JJ has given a statement saying that the film was set up, and now Thai authorities want to put Mr. Hill in the hot seat as he is wanted for questioning regarding this alleged "set up." Stay tuned as this story is getting bigger. . .

Editor: It's perhaps more a question of Thais unable to believe that a Buddhist would behave in this fashion. When there are two versions of a particular incident, every culture has difficulty determining right from wrong.

Posted by James on September 14, 2009 04:55

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