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Thailand's Cabinet Will Be Asked Today to Fix Phuket's Problems

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Phuket News Analysis

PHUKET: Phuket and its problems are being presented to Thailand's Cabinet today as tuk-tuks and the stolen passport scandal continue to menace the future of the international holiday island.

Today's revelation that the two passports stolen on Phuket and used by Iranians to board the lost flight MH370 in Kuala Lumpur had been previously used in a China visa application will alarm security chiefs everywhere.

Employment contracts had been signed last year for Christian Kozel, an Austrian, and Luigi Maraldi, an Italian, to work as dancers in Ningxia, northern China, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Those are the two men whose passports were stolen while they holidayed on Phuket.

The LA Times link to China poses the first clear pointer to stolen Phuket passports being used by a ring rather than an individual shyster.

And it means more unwanted international attention for Phuket, where the island's police commander, Major General Ong-Art Phiwruangnont, yesterday conceded that enforcers were losing their fight against lawlessness and skulduggery.

Today Tourism and Sport Minister Somsak Pureesrisak is likely to tell Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Cabinet that Phuket needs more intervention and radical solutions for its problems.

Khun Somsak's battle to make Phuket a better place earned him a share of the Phuketwan Phuket Person of the Year 2013 Award, and he appears to be determined to get the job done.

Yesterday at a media conference at Phuket Police headquarters in Phuket City he floated the idea that Phuket was such a special case, it needed ''independence'' to resolve the big issues.

''Phuket people have to reset everything for themselves,'' he said. ''Law enforcement brings street blockades and officials are unable to fix the problems,'' he said.

Whether the Cabinet goes so far as to embrace Phuketwan's suggested solution - to make Phuket a role model for the rest of Thailand by wiping out corruption on the holiday island - remains to be seen.

On the hot issue of passports, Khun Somsak said there were 500 motorcycle renting shops in Pattaya and only eight people to check them so police on Phuket probably needed to outsource that part of their duty.

The Superintendent of Karon Police Station and the chief of Phuket's Marine Office 5, Phuripat Theerakulpisut, both gave indications that Phuket is some way from changing to the international Thai destination it must become to survive.

The superintendent said that in the past, tourists were ''Gods who looked on Thai people as slaves,'' and that some continued to make trouble for locals.

Khun Phuripat said that in jet-ski disputes, Phuket's team of honorary consuls ''always'' supported their own people, even in cases where the jet-ski hirers were in the right.

What all of Phuket's honorary consuls have actually said repeatedly is that they want the laws of Thailand enforced fairly for all, with expats and tourists deserving to be punished if they commit crimes.

The comments of the superintendent and Khun Phuripat make it plain that Phuket's Governor Maitree Intrusud needs to restore the full honorary consuls' meetings as soon as possible so that local authorities fully understand the international community and its needs.

The breakdown in communication and the disappearance of the regular exchange of views that the open consuls' forums provided has put Phuket back into a dark age.

There can be no solving Phuket's problems behind closed doors.

More international scandals of the kind generated by the stolen passports are bound to occur, along with local tuk-tuk blockades, if the mindset of some local authorities is not overruled speedily and replaced with a Thai-international perspective.

The first opportunity comes at today's Cabinet meeting.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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I police would enforce laws ethically and equally the consuls would not be able to make a single bad comment without beeing sacked by the embassies.

Posted by Mr. K on March 18, 2014 11:39

Editor Comment:

Perhaps they should be sued instead for speaking out, Mr K. But maybe they'd better keep speaking out until laws are enforced ethically and equally.

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I think Khun Phuripat suffers from an inferiority complex.

"in the past, tourists were 'Gods who looked on Thai people as slaves,' and that some continued to make trouble for locals" ...

really we have tourists here that a engaged in slavery ?

And the plight of the poor jet-ski buisness owners that get ripped off by evil slave driving tourists. ... very funny.

Posted by Max Headroom on March 18, 2014 11:41

Editor Comment:

You are attributing to Khun Phuripat a comment that was made by the Superintendent of Karon Police Station. No wonder people get upset. He is, however, correct in so far as there are sometimes dodgy tourists who hire jet-skis, crash them, then try to avoid the appropriate penalty.

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Editor Comment:

...there are sometimes dodgy tourists who hire jet-skis, crash them, then try to avoid the appropriate penalty.


Ha! Ha!

More often it is dodgy jet-ski renters who rent out damaged jet-skis to unsuspecting tourists and then claim for damages when the jet-ski is returned. Then they don't get the jet-ski repaired and make the same claim for damages from the next tourist.

Are you still trying to get your Permanent Residency certificate by defending these gangs? Or are you just trying to avoid jail after your Rohingya rant?

Posted by Straight Talker on March 18, 2014 13:37

Editor Comment:

What a confused, lop-sided mind you have, Strait Talker. As the honorary consuls will tell you, some of the jet-ski crashers dodge and weave to avoid their obligations. Like life itself, there is no one version. It's a pity yours is so myopic that you can't separate one issue from another.

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for starters ....stop renting motor bikes to people who not only dont have a license but most have never ridden one before , let alone in kamakaze phuket ,(pass a law that makes it illegal to rent to someone with no valid license) ... same with the jet ski, to hire u must undertake a 4 hr induction course or sign an affidavit to state u are experienced ...but i suspect that times they are not a changin on the sicily of south east asia ...

Posted by chris on March 18, 2014 18:12

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all they are looking at is saving face, not actually solving problems what have the DSI actually done a very small percentage of what they reported they would do.

Posted by Michael on March 18, 2014 22:41

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I don't think that it would de complicated, and would probably cost next to nothing, to put huge signs up at the airport, immigration,and border crossings, maybe even flyers,telling foreigners to never leave their passports out of their sight. All hotels, even cheap guest houses, have safes ! Passports belong to the country that issues them. If rental shops wish, then they should ask for a cash deposit!

Posted by Elizabeth on March 19, 2014 05:10

Editor Comment:

Unfortunately there are so many huge signs competing for peoples' attention that most of them don't get read, Elizabeth. Better to solve the problem by finding a workable alternative.

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There has always been a tendency in Phuket to blame everybody else for it's problems and of course it also expect the solution to it's problems to come from somewhere outside Phuket, blaming the government in Bangkok has always been a popular option. DSI was sent to Phuket to sort out the obvious problems and failed ... the Police is in place and do not enforce laws ,,,no reason to believe that corruption is in any way reduced recently. People in Phuket need to realize that change come only from within, as long as the present state of affairs is accepted then things simply won't change, change will happen the day when the average man/woman is fed up with the situation in Phuket and not before then. And when looking at surveys showing the high approval among Thais when it comes to corruption as long as they get their bone too, well then don't hold your breath ;-)

Posted by Sailor on March 19, 2014 12:17

Editor Comment:

A doomsayer's perspective, Sailor, that tells us nothing we didn't know and offers no new ideas or solutions. The usual waste of time and energy.


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