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Larry Cunningham leaves big shoes and a big hat to fill on Phuket

Phuket Farewells an Hon Con With a Heart and a Dream

Saturday, September 28, 2013
PHUKET: It was a Larry Cunningham kind of week. Rihanna visited Phuket and set the pace with a tweet about a sex show and a ''selfie'' of a Soi Bangla slow loris.

A military-style swoop produced an alleged international crime lord who with his motley gang sold drugs from Asia to America and killed if required. His home base?

Phuket, of course.

In Australia, revelations of hormone boosting among elite footballers in two codes ravaged the reputations of stars and the links all led back to . . .

Phuket, the year-round holiday island.

Last night, as Cunningham took a final bow as an honorary consul in a formal farewell hosted by Australian Ambassador James Wise, Phuketwan's news team was working on a jet-ski scandal.

Two tourists were assaulted with a No Swimming flag.

If they'd been Australian, Cunningham would have been torn between staying at his farewell party or helping out at the beach and the police station.

And there was some well-timed good news, too. A weekend-long crackdown on crime, announced by senior police, means that Phuket should be perfect by Monday.

Perhaps the officers sensed the occasion: Monday is Cunningham's last day as an hon con.

The crusty consul will not be forgotten, either by those who have come to understand the real character of the man or those who will forever hate his guts.

Dodging issues is the one thing that Cunningham cannot do. His role since the 2004 tsunami has been in seeking justice, better safety and a ''fair go,'' not just for Australian visitors but for all tourists, expats and residents.

Not long ago, in a conversation with a newspaper manager - a Thai - we got the immediate reaction: ''Larry Cunningham? That *%F&+=!''

There's a small group on Phuket, Thais and expats, who don't want the island to change for the better. And Cunningham acknowledges that he can be a bit of a blow torch.

Yet one of the reasons he has been so ornery and outspoken is because he loves Phuket and Thailand. He knows the choice is to fix the problems, or see his beautiful island go down the gurgler.

He knew his time was short, just eight years. He did his best. His pals, both Thais and expats, can only be in awe of his raw courage.

It's rumored there could have even been a second party last night, a merry rump of jet-ski scammers and bare-bellied taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, hanging out with several well-known local police, all waving tourists' passports in celebration.

Their joy may be short-lived. Boys, ''Lazza'' Cunningham still aims to spend six months of every year on Phuket!

And you can bet he will continue to cheer on the hundreds of honest, more aware expats and Thais who now share his values and want to save his beautiful island. Good on ya, mate.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Great night, sorry to see him go

Posted by paul on September 28, 2013 07:22


Farewell Larry and good luck. I have always been in awe of your stand up and no nonsense attitude to the various crooks of the island. Fair play to you, from a non-Aussie.

Posted by geoff on September 28, 2013 07:48

Monday June 17, 2024
Phuketwan - Your sweet Phuket, every day


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