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End Phuket Corruption and Show the World That Thailand Can be Trusted

Tuesday, August 13, 2013
THE BIG CLEANUP Brave Enough to Change

PHUKET: The next couple of months are Phuket's best chance, and possibly the last chance, to solve the chronic problems plaguing the international holiday island.

For too long, the scams, the rip-offs and the endemic extortion have been ignored.

Phuketwan wants to see the current investigation succeed. We want to see quick results.

We want to see the guilty arrested and punished. We want to see an end to local councils building over canals, giving permission for a favored few to encroach on public land, and turning a blind eye to developments above 80 metres.

We want to see the power of the taxi and tuk-tuk monopolies destroyed. We want the roads cleared for public parking, we want call centres, and we want the present fat taxi and tuk-tuk fares cut in half.

We want Phuket's beaches and its coral reefs saved for future generations. Annual cleanups are useful but just a token BandAid. The fishing industry must be controlled for the sake of the tourism industry.

Most of all, we want an end to serious corruption on Phuket. This involves Thailand's Government and all of its agencies.

It's common knowledge in Patong that 14 government organisations take bribes to allow businesses in the west coast holiday centre to run relatively free from law enforcement.

In November last year, the President of the Entertainment Association of Patong, Weerawit Kuresombut,told Phuketwan that the Marine Police, the Tourist Police and the Anti-Human Trafficking Division were also seeking their share.

''It's like a big [corruption] cake,'' he said.''Everybody wants to eat it.'' And it's worth remembering who pays for all that corruption: Phuket's tourists.

''If the corruption continues to grow at this rate, the tourists who come to Phuket will go to other destinations,'' Khun Weerawit told us.

Embattled Patong businessman Prab Keesin knows where all the faults in the current corrupt system can be found. He also knows that those who are taking the bribes, not those who are paying them, are the real ''mafia.''

It's time for the corrupt officials on Phuket, the real ''mafia,'' to stop. Those who continue must be arrested and convicted, along with any private citizens who until now have been above the law.

Phuket and Thailand will never have a better opportunity to clean up corruption on the holiday island, then to use the lessons learned on Phuket to clean up corruption throughout the entire country.

It's time to prove that Thailand is serious about becoming an honest place to visit and to do business. Can Thailand be trusted? The next two months will provide an answer. The world is watching.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Building over canals, checked on the right hand side of the mosque in Bang Tao lately? Guess you have not.

Posted by DuncanB on August 13, 2013 11:01

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The main reason for paying bribes is either to be allowed to break the law or to gain an unfair business advantage.

Those paying bribes are just as guilty, if not even more so, as are those receiving them.

No excuses.

Posted by ThaiMike on August 13, 2013 11:38

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How to stop when your kids private school tuition, the third car payment and the other costs will never be feed with your little policeman salary?

DSI should check the pupils on Phukets private schools, check the luxury car sellers address and invoice books. Then get the parents talk to role the dice up hill.

Posted by Lena on August 13, 2013 12:30

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I must say, the text above are brilliant!
Would have wished a politician saying all this, and without bribes!
Many thanks Phuket Wan!

Posted by cliwe on August 13, 2013 13:59

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As a reply to ThaiMike I would like to say that he is blatantly wrong. Yes there are businesses that would pay bribes to obtain advantages and to make the authorities look the other way. For the majority of businesses in Phuket, the bribes are mandatory required by the various authorities, or the business will be closed down. Like it or not, this is what the rest of the world refers to as mafia activity. So if you choose not to pay, your investments and business will be lost and the public servants in Phuket runs of with your money. Is this fair ? In Phuket you have no option but to pay these people or they will force you out of business!

Posted by businessman on August 13, 2013 16:39

Editor Comment:

There is no obligation for any business on Phuket to pay bribes. But once you pay, you become part of the problem. Honest businesspeople would prefer to be forced out of business rather than pay. The opportunity now is to become part of the solution.

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There is no obligation for any business on Phuket to pay bribes. But once you pay, you become part of the problem. Honest businesspeople would prefer to be forced out of business rather than pay. The opportunity now is to become part of the solution.

Ed - You are clearly a wise old ocker with fingers in may pies. Have you ever been asked for money in relation to continuing your business, or been offered money or favours to hide or twist a report? If so, what was your course of action.

Posted by eddy on August 13, 2013 18:53

Editor Comment:

We've never paid a bribe. The course of action if it appears one is being asked for is to insist that you are following the law, and to go away and come back again with additional documents if required. Do it until they give up.
We've never been offered money or favors to hide or twist a report. We've been threatened with violence once by a jet-ski operator. And a tourism official also suggested once that we should leave the country.

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- businessman

I understand what you mean, both from personal and friends' experiences but I do have to agree with the Ed on this.

Nobody is putting a gun on your head if you don't pay and once a critical mass declines to pay, the whole racket collapses.

No man can fight a war alone but business owners should unite and stand firm against corruption.

Place CCTV cameras in your offices and if you catch officials demanding a bribe, forward it to BKK authorities or while the DSI is here, to them directly.

You may or may not remember a hotelier who had a group of bungalows on Patong beach about 10y ago. He refused to make certain payments, upon which his land lease agreement was declared null and void.

He was told to move his buildings off their land, hoping of course he would just leave it all for them.

He dismantled them all and shipped everything off, leaving them just an empty lot.

If you don't stand up to the wrongdoers, what do you stand for ?

Posted by ThaiMike on August 13, 2013 19:12

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Ed - Thanks for your reply and position.


"We've been threatened with violence once by a jet-ski operator." So have a significant number of the tourists in HKT. I see it every day in Bangtao Beach etc.

Posted by eddy on August 13, 2013 19:21

Editor Comment:

We're told that that kind of thing never happens at Bang Tao.

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We're told that that kind of thing never happens at Bang Tao.

Not sure who tells you that but they tend to pick on asians.....

Posted by eddy on August 13, 2013 19:30

Editor Comment:

In what way?

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Dear Ed

If you invested, lets say 20 million baht, put your house up as collateral, and then refused to pay officials 300.000 baht for a licence which is totally irrelevant for your business, would you then report it with threats to have your head removed if you report it ? I hope you dont have a family who loves you ! This is how Phuket business is working and the police plays a big part of it by receiving money from the officials who demands the bribes. Just walking away from the business is easier said than done if you are right in the middle of it.

Posted by businessman on August 13, 2013 20:09

Editor Comment:

Judging by the number of headless expat businesspeople lately, the threats are hollow. Believe the threats, and you join a long list of victims. Intimidation is the common thread.

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I know how system of corruption works in police offices almost from first hands, because my good friends (one - Russian lady and one - Thai lady) are ex-girlfriends of high-position policemen on Phuket. For three years I know them I listened so many stories, that now I don't believe that there is any single honest policeman here. Such people are pushed out by system very quickly. Normally they are never get promotion higher than 3rd level in ranks.

Posted by Stranger on August 14, 2013 13:00


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