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Corruption is Veera  Kerdsirimongkol's target on Phuket

Phuket Enforcer Lists Top Six Targets

Monday, June 3, 2013
PHUKET: The Director of Kathu interrupts the interview. He has just heard that a group of time-share touts are operating in Karon right now.

He makes a couple of telephone calls to high-ups in the neighborhood, seeking their help to reinforce his team. Both say they can't oblige.

Not for the first time, Veera Kerdsirimongkol is on his own. But flying solo isn't going to stop him.

On Phuket, the international holiday island where even Chinese tourists now know that the police and Immigration are infested with corruption, Khun Veera is a stand-out.

''There have been calls already to my boss [at the Interior Ministry,] asking for me to be moved,'' he said. ''But as far as I'm concerned, I'm here for the long haul.

''And as long as I am here, I will enforce the law without regard to who is breaking the law. Big or small, it's all the same to me.''

All this comes as Khun Veera heads out the door and off to Karon, on Phuket's west coast, south of Patong.

Where are those pesky time-share touts?

Nowhere to be found today. Perhaps they were told the enforcer was on the way - there's no way of knowing for sure whether they were tipped off in much the same way as Khun Veera was tipped off.

Enforcing the law on Phuket is often a game of hide and seek.

Yet drawing a blank has been rare for Khun Veera, whose strike rate on raids of all kinds since he took on the district director's job in March has been high.

Projects on the hilltops that appear to have gone unseen by authorities with poor eyesight are being spotted by Khun Veera, who has 20/20 vision.

Coming up, expect more action on time-share touts, jet-ski scammers, hilltop property developers, drug-takers and water thieves.

Water thieves? Yes, water thieves. High on Khun Veera's list of things to do is an investigation of what happened to the water that used to flow in large quantities over Kathu waterfall.

For some reason - perhaps Phuket-style ''global warming,'' in other words, upstream thieving - the waterfall is distinctly drier these days.

Could it be reappearing in water trucks destined for sale at high prices to Phuket's resorts? Stay tuned.

Khun Veera has six issues that he aims to be concentrating on in his attempt to clean up Kathu.

His territory takes in a large slice of the middle of Phuket, including Patong. In Phuket's nightlife hub, local authorities admit that 14 local departments and authorities all have a stake in Patong corruption.

Bribes, extortion, rip-offs, scams . . . you name it. And in the end, guess who pays? That's right, the Phuket tourist. Always.

So Khun Veera's campaigns have the virtue of being just what the island needs, for residents as well as visitors. He has no argument with the scale of corruption on Phuket.

It's eveywhere, fuelling greed, bringing with it victims among tourists, residents, and future generations of Phuket people.

Thailand needs the revenue from tourism, so the corruption that is gradually crippling Phuket strikes directly at the future of the entire country.

For now, Khun Veera's focus is on his own patch, Kathu. He has six priorities:

1. Stop Attacks on Public Land

KHUN VEERA has already made multiple arrests along the hillsides above Patong, Karon and Kamala and more recently on the foreshore at Kalim. There will be more. ''We will not people take public land for their own use. This is pretty simple. The theft of public land is one of Phuket's most serious problems.''

2. Save Phuket Beaches from Greed

HOW IS it that the number of umbrellas keep rising each year, as more and more of Phuket's beaches disappear beneath commercialisation for private profit? ''Some of Phuket's best beaches now have six rows of umbrellas and the people in the front rows have their toes in the water,'' Khun Veera says. ''This is pure greed.'' [Phuketwan believes that only an independent Phuket Beach Authority can protect and save Phuket's beaches.]

3. End Jet-Ski Scams

THERE HAS been no end to problems with jet-skis and rip-offs, and use of the noisy, pollutiong machines has expanded to beaches where they are not supposed to be operating. Khun Veera - unlike Phuket's Marine Office 5 - sees the need for controls, not compromise.

4. Stop the Time-Share Touts

''THE TOUTS operate on the edge of the law and attract people to invest under false lures and promises. They should be stopped,'' he says. So far the touts have escaped arrest.

5. End Drug-Taking in Nighspots

''WE HAVE been making raids at least once a week and those raids will go on until everyone tests negative to drugs,'' Khun Veera said. ''We won't stop until we have clear signs that there is no drug-taking, and no weapons to be found, either. The message is getting through. I still notice a high proportion of ladyboys appear to be drug-takers.''

6. Find the Kathu Waterfall Thieves

''HOW CAN people steal water from one of Phuket's most appealing tourist attractions? It's just basic theft. We will catch these people and throw the book at them.''

Khun Veera believes Phuket was once ''a lovely place'' and a natural asset for Thailand. ''Now it's crowded with greedy, self-interested people who are only interested in money,'' he said.

His arrival appears to be well-timed in view of last week's powerful agitation for change by Chinese Ambassador Guan Mu, who wants an end to corruption so that tourists are properly protected.

American officials are also likely to support the regulation of taxis and tuk-tuks and the introduction of standard fares following the rip-offs inflicted on the crews of visiting warships.

With the European Union ambassadors meeting on Phuket on June 14-15, problems that some local officials say do not exist are likely to be highlighted.

If there was no corruption, Khun Veera would have little to do. Yet some tasks seem to be more difficult than others.

''You know, we have cracked down on the Patong touts with iguanas and slow lorises,'' he said. ''We think there's only one iguana tout left operating now because we haven't spotted any slow lorises lately.''

Like corruption and bribery on Phuket, just because you can't see them doesn't mean they're not still there.

One question we forgot to ask Khun Veera: why aren't all Phuket's police, Immigration officers and local authorities enforcing the law?

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Best wishes to K. Veera for success.

Posted by D on June 3, 2013 11:04

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Just what Phuket needs and I wish him good luck and safety in the future. The fact people have tried to have him moved speaks volumes. Realistically as opposed to pessimistically I'm not surprised local officials were otherwise engaged when he required their assistance - they are a huge part of the problem. If he is only covering Kathu hopefully the two other District Chiefs will learn from his efforts.

Just as a matter of interest does he operate any kind of hotline or other reporting system as there are hundreds of 'Eyes of the Pineapple' amongst the Expat community who's eyesight is not weak when it comes to infractions.

Posted by Mister Ree on June 3, 2013 11:15

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Will give the guy some credit, but would like to see people actually convicted and fined substantially, the other, and more important, thing, go after the corrupt officials first, as for timeshare touts, please, they are only doing their job, he should be going after their employer/s.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on June 3, 2013 11:31

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Khun Veera has the support of the silent majority in Phuket, Thais and foreigners alike.

The day when politicians, civil servants will be prosecuted in court and sent to jail with large fines and assets illegally owned will be seized; then the good time to enjoy easy money by the corrupted civil servants will be at its end as it is the root of most problems in Phuket and Thailand at large.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on June 3, 2013 11:34

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Please post a hot line number that everyone can call to report everything from touts to those with animals in Bangla, etc. If everyone contributes by informing him where all that is bad is going on, then they can really clamp down till it stops.

Posted by Logic on June 3, 2013 12:04

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I'm liking the sound of this guy! A real breath of fresh air. Now lets see if he can break the stranglehold of those that want a status quo, and keep his job. I hope so.
The calls for a hotline is a sound idea. Let us help this man.

Posted by jimbo34 on June 3, 2013 16:07

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What government office does he hold? When you say he is the "Director" of Kathu, do you mean District Chief? Or is he the head of the police in that district...

Posted by Matt on June 3, 2013 16:09

Editor Comment:

Matt, you figure it out, please.

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Well done Khun Veera to having the will and the round goodies to get things done. Now if he can just make sure those Big persons, found guilty of their offences, that they face the full letter of the law. Once everybody starts seeing that the big and small offenders get their just punishment, then the eyes wide shut will open, to the new era in stamping out this terrible evil of corruption and greed. Long my you serve in this job Khun Veera.

Posted by Robin on June 3, 2013 16:26

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Anyway to contact this guy?

Posted by eezergood on June 3, 2013 17:01

Editor Comment:

Try Kathu District offices.

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Perhaps Phuket should set up a special "Phuket Anti-Corruption Volunteer Unit" where Thais and foreigners will be the ears and eyes of Phuket as Phuket Governors was requesting for his vision to compare Thais to the eyes of a pineapple.
They would bring evidences with pictures of illegal activities such as illegal logging in public lands, diverting waterfalls for commercial use, illegal businesses on public lands especially beaches and all roads above 80m limit, businesses opening late at night during closure time, and so on... Low-paid civil servants may as well reports corruptions by senior civil servants.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on June 3, 2013 17:21

Editor Comment:

Haven't you previously accused volunteer forces of corruption, Whistle-Blower? Individuals who wish to help just need to track the right people to provide with evidence, and to persevere a little to check and perhaps recheck that the message has reached its target. It just takes time and effort. The Damrungtam complaints office at Phuket Provincial Hall is central and open to suggestions.

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I had recently made contact with this gentleman re' a specific complaint I had in Patong..Originally I went through the usual complaint process of contacting Patong muncipality, Patong law enforcement...with everyone turning a blind eye to the problem..then I was given K Veera's name and contact info and was told that he's the new sheriff in town and he wants to clean things up.....After hearing that, I snickered alittle to myself and thought I have nothing to lose, so I reached out and expressed the situation to him and before you could say "Jiminy Cricket", this issue was dealt with and virtually settled...No more issues.....I've been in Patong for many years and for the first time ever, it appears that this guy is the real deal...I wish him all the success in the world

Posted by zig on June 3, 2013 18:44

Editor Comment:

That's good to hear but he's only one man. The Damrungtam complaints office at Phuket Provincial Hall is the best place for most people to start - especially those in the other Phuket districts that Khun Veera does not oversee.

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I really like this article, it is giving me some kind
Of hope, or maybe a dream that this can really
Suceed.......good wishes to K Veera.

Posted by David Rej on June 5, 2013 01:34

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Editor Comment: Matt, you figure it out, please.

What I can't seem to figure out is your obsession with insulting your readers.

Posted by matt on June 5, 2013 13:19

Editor Comment:

That's an opinion, matt, not a fact. If there's one thing i am not obsessed by, it's readers.

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Dear Khun Veera, please take a ride down Pasak Koktanode Road past the swimming pool in Cherng Talay - on the way to Laguna. Opposite the Discovery Gardens Houses, there were three big water storage dams, they have been there since 2006, even before that. Yesterday going past there I noticed that these dams have been filled in with building rubble and the dam on the left, looks like it has just become natural vegetation again. Who allows this to happen, local councils, headman of the area or police, OR all three entities? Keep on probing Khun Veera.

Posted by Robin on June 8, 2013 11:51

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Cherng - Telay is not K Veera's district. His counterpart in Cherng-Telay allowed canals that flow into Bang Tao bay sea to be polluted and allegedly, acres of National forest to be encroached upon.

Posted by EB48 on June 8, 2013 12:29

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@ Robin

Better address your issues to the person responsible for Thalang, not Veera who is responsible for Kathu.

Posted by stevenl on June 8, 2013 12:45

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What is he going to do about the police who extort money from businesses with tactics very similar to Al Capone.

Posted by concerned on June 9, 2013 09:27

Editor Comment:

He has no authority over police.

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@ concerned: businesses getting extorted have opened themselves to that by not being completely legal. Be legal and there will be no extortion. But once you're on a slippery slope it is very difficult to get back on top again.

Posted by stevenl on June 9, 2013 10:03

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@stevenl.. Very naive comment Steven. They will find "something" wrong no matter how "legal" you are. Just ask anyone involved in business here, anyone trying to get a retirement visa, anyone reporting a crime. Wake up boy!

Posted by mike on June 9, 2013 13:47

Editor Comment:

As long as you don't make corrupt payments, mike. Doing that would make you part of the problem. Those who don't agree with corruption don't pay.

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"They will find "something" wrong no matter how "legal" you are. Just ask anyone involved in business here, anyone trying to get a retirement visa, anyone reporting a crime. "

Speaking from experience after having a business here for 10 years now: all your claims are not true.

Posted by stevenl on June 9, 2013 14:15

Editor Comment:

My experience is similar, stevenl. However, I am sure ''they'' will find something wrong - if you let them.

No point in complaining about corruption if you make corrupt payments.


Monday July 6, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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