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One thing the investigators won't find on Phuket, except on car windows

THE BIG CLEANUP Just Who is in Charge

Wednesday, August 7, 2013
The Big Cleanup: Brave Enough to Change Phuket

PHUKET: Leading figures in Thailand's tourism industry are keen to know precisely how the Department of Special Investigations plans to proceed with its campaign to clean up Phuket.

The first Crime Crisis Centre is due to open at Phuket International Airport on Friday with a second centre to open soon after.

But Phuketwan has learned that there is discord and debate about how the campaign will proceed.

Last Friday's key meeting in Bangkok, designed to endorse a combined strategy to be followed by the DSI, the Tourism and Sport Ministry, Phuket authorities and Phuket police, exposed some reservations and conflicts.

The Tourist Police representative at the meeting went along with the outlined plans. But sources have told Phuketwan that his boss, the national Tourist Police Chief, later expressed reservations.

He has since overruled the suggestion that the Phuket project should be run from the Tourist Police headquarters in Phuket City.

According to sources who were at the meeting in Bangkok, Phuket Governor Maitree Intrusud asked how the DSI campaign would dovetail with progress already being made on taxis and tuk-tuks by Phuket authorities.

He made the point, one source said, that the ending of the Phuket airport contract with taxis and limos in September was the time to swing into action on that issue, not this week.

There is still no indication as to who will be in charge, which is clearly an important decision.

Ministry of Tourism and Sport officials, unused to roles in law enforcement, are still wondering how they fit with the jigsaw.

How the campaign is going to work could become plainer after a meeting called with some urgency for tomorrow by the Senate Select Committee on Tourism and its straight-shooting chair, Senator Tunyaratt Achariyachai.

A Phuket businesswoman, she is likely to ask questions about objectives and leadership.

While everyone agrees Phuket needs cleaning up, there are still a variety of opinions about how and why, and especially who.

The governor, for example, has no power over the DSI or the Tourist Police or the Royal Thai Police who man Phuket's 10 stations and enforce the law.

The Minister of Tourism and Sport, Somsak Pureesrisak, having listened to complaints from European Union ambassadors and decided to enlist the help of the DSI to fix Phuket's problems, can now only offer suggestions from the sidelines.

What's certainly agreed by everyone - with the possible exception of the Tourist Police - is that it's time action was taken to fix the rip-offs and scams on Phuket.

The underlying corruption? Who knows. But window dressing won't work.

DSI officers have been on Phuket for at least two days already, along with Tourism and Sport officials, scoping out some aspects of the campaign.

When telephone lines are opened once Bangkok police who speak good English arrive on Phuket, it's expected there will be no shortage of callers relating experiences about chronic graft, rip-offs, scams and all kinds of tourism-related problems.

Overnight results should not be expected. There are too many issues on Phuket that have been allowed to fester for too long to expect instant solutions.

Much better for the Crime Crisis Centre teams to collect information and develop a game plan based on what residents, expats and tourists are now likely to feel free to talk about, for the first time.

With the campaign's beginning just a couple of days away, the key questions remain: who will be in charge and who will take responsibility for ensuring a just outcome?

Once those questions have been answered, Phuket's cleaner future can begin to be resolved. The solutions, though, may take a little longer.

Comments

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(moderated)

I cannot wait for the hotlines to open as I am sure is anyone who has any genuine feeling for this once lovely island.

Maybe the clock cannot be turned back but at least it can be reset.

Posted by Logic on August 7, 2013 19:41

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When telephone lines are opened once Bangkok police who speak good English arrive on Phuket...
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How can the Phuket police not have competent English speaking officers?

Phuket is the main destination for foreign tourists, and has been so probably for decades.

The admission that local officers are not competent in English is a truly shameful admission. Perhaps it demonstrates how little they care about helping and understanding foreign tourists.

As a former police volunteer of 6 years standingin Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya, - if I can make the effort to learn to speak Thai (and I did), then surely it is not beyond the comprehension of the local Phuket police to also make the same effort.

Posted by Simon Luttrell on August 7, 2013 19:47

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Is not won if they do not find a true leader among senior officials with a good dose of professional ethics and ready to reject all compromise by paying bribes.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 7, 2013 20:15

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"Governor Maitree Intrusud asked how the DSI campaign would dovetail with progress already being made on taxis and tuk-tuks by Phuket authorities."

what progress is that precisely??

Posted by another steve on August 7, 2013 20:19

Editor Comment:

The hard work it took to get the names, telephone numbers and photos of existing taxi drivers into a data base and collate details of taxis on Phuket after years of others doing nothing.
Perhaps we write stuff you don't bother to read, another steve?
Are you another one who thinks the taxi meters are going to suddenly fall from the sky and everything will be ok?

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A recent survey on the BBC detailed monies tourist spend per head around the world. Thailand was number 4, behind Macau, Hong Kong and USA. It provokes the question - where does the money go? Perhaps it's at the bottom of the sink hole on Patong hill. Sad to be negative about this opportunity for change but foreigners are only guests here - to think a foreigners opinion will count for anything is delusional.

Posted by Gee on August 7, 2013 22:07

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(moderated)
Senators have very limited authority in situations like this.
The DSI is likely to deal with it somewhere around the same time that they deal with political violence, corrupt monks and slave labor.
A CEO governor with a 5 year term and complete authority could turn the tide.
Somebody like Khun Purachai might be very good for Phuket.

Posted by Yojimbo on August 8, 2013 01:09

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I think the editor is a very good and very well-meaning person, but I suspect that all that the DSI will do is strike down on nominee thai companies headed by foreigners, especially russians.
And the fact is; what else can you acheive in such a short time?

Posted by remarkable on August 8, 2013 03:04

Editor Comment:

Setting up Crime Crisis Centres indicates the DSI will be around for a while, remarkable, although there has been no indication how long. ''Until the job is done'' would be ideal.

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Much of this article is spot on Ed, however, there is one thing that i would like to point out. Yes there were a number of taxi drivers who did register to become legal. However, i know of 2, in my very small Soi alone, that did register but have now removed all their stickers from the vehicles and resorted back to being black plate taxis. If there is 2 in my soi alone, how may other around the island have done the same thing? It was all about show at the time but in fact it's all going back to the way it was before, just more underground!!!

Posted by phuket madness on August 8, 2013 09:55

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It really does not make much of a difference who is in charge, main thing is that locals are not involved. See the governor, already trying to postpone any kind of action.

Posted by stevenl on August 8, 2013 10:49

Editor Comment:

The governor is not a local.

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"The governor is not a local."

He has many local interest, so yes, I would consider him a local. Just as I consider myself a local.

Posted by stevenl on August 8, 2013 11:14

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The governor lives on Phuket and his children goes to school here.

Posted by Sherlock on August 8, 2013 11:56

Editor Comment:

Do they? I didn't know he had children.

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When I see close Patong bars and disks in the set legal time, I start to believe that something is changing.
Why the local police can not do the work that the DSI can?

Posted by jbaemm on August 8, 2013 18:51

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Why the local police can not do the work that the DSI can?
(moderated)

Posted by eddy on August 8, 2013 19:18

Editor Comment:

eddy, have you seen the DSI solve Phuket's problems, or are you just guessing as usual? We certainly hope they can help. But if i were you, I would give them half a chance. Maybe two months?

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Perhaps not, just a figure of speech to describe what an official here must consider.
@ jbaemm - closing hours has never been mentioned as one of Phuket's problems.

Posted by Sherlock on August 8, 2013 21:32

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@Sherlock
"closing hours has never been mentioned as one of Phuket's problems."
From my point of view this is the biggest problem, from which all others derive.

Posted by jbaemm on August 9, 2013 10:44


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