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Police Colonel Panuwat Ruamrak with Larry Cunningham

Phuket Immigration Eyes Expat Trouble-Makers

Wednesday, March 17, 2010
THE NEW Superintendent of Phuket Immigration, Police Colonel Panuwat Ruamrak, plans a new data base to keep Phuket free of expat trouble-makers. He has already met with about 10 honorary consuls on Phuket and aims to improve relations with all diplomatic representatives.

German Honorary Consul Dirk Naumann said today that the move was ''very positive'' and that corruption, a distinguishing feature some time ago of Immigration on Phuket, no longer seemed to be evident.

Mr Naumann said the new approach by Immigration, along with the first group meeting of honorary consuls with the governor earlier this year, were positive steps towards solving some of the island's key issues, especially public transport.

Today Colonel Panuwat met Australian honorary consul and resort owner Larry Cunningham, who told him that Phuket ''still has very big problems.'' But he added: ''This governor is doing more that all the past governors.

''The tuk-tuk problem especially has to be fixed.''

Mr Cunningham said that Bali was rising again as a rival for Phuket because tourists were spreading the word about ''the tuk-tuks, the jet-skis, the mafia, the extortion by police.''

''If visitors have a good time, they will tell four or five people,'' Mr Cunningham said. ''If they have a bad time, they will tell 40 or 50 people.''

Mr Cunningham said that because he was a resort owner as well as honorary consul, he was very aware of the negatives on Phuket and wanted them to be corrected as soon as possible.

''It costs 500 baht for a 15-minute journey between Surin and Patong,'' Mr Cunningham said. ''That is extremely expensive.''

Yet, he added, the island represented good value in other ways.

''I took five people to lunch in Rawai recently and it cost me $50,'' he said. ''In Australia it would cost me 10 times that.''

He also said that the changes that the island needs had to be driven from Bangkok by the national government.

''Most of the local Phuket news media do not report the problems, and the Bangkok Post and the Nation never mention them,'' he said. ''As a result, the government in Bangkok does not know what's happening.''

Colonel Panuwat said that the motto of the Commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, Lieutenant General Wooti Lippatapanlop, was: ''Make Phuket Clean and Safe.'' As a former Director of Tourism, Lt General Wooti understood the issues well, Colonel Panuwat said.

He said he planned to report regularly on the situation on Phuket and would make sure the information was passed to the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Department.

Comments

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''I took five people to lunch in Rawai recently and it cost me $50,'' he said. ''In Australia it would cost me 10 times that.''

So in Australia it costs $100 per person? I don't think so.

Editor: It would depend on the restaurant and the lunch. But seafood in Sydney, say? $100 a head would not be unusual.

Posted by chris on March 17, 2010 17:01

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Don't compare the price in Phuket. (Thailand)! And the price in WESTERN countries, please!! I live in Bangkhae(Bangkok)!! I pay not so much for eating seaFOOD!!!!!!!

50 dollars?? I can have 50 people for that in Bangkhae( Bangkok)!!! Phuket sucks!! Don't go there for awhile.. Let say 1 year!! U will see.. The price will drop very fast!!

Posted by Roger on March 18, 2010 00:37

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Thank you Mister Cunningham for your wise comment about your lunch in Rawai. Clever comments like that let the locals think they sell their food too cheap to FARANGS.....well done Mr Cunningham...
Maybe you can tell us in your next interview about the prices of social services in Thailand and Australia... I would like to know.

Posted by Richard on March 18, 2010 03:11

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No more corruption? I had to pay a 7000 baht bribe today, and even if you don't know it, nearly everyone with a one-year visa is paying, too.

Editor: If you have any allegations of corruption, you should take them to your honorary consul.

Posted by Anonymous on March 18, 2010 10:50

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My family and I ate in Sydney in February. AUD760 for five people, and the eatery wasn't anything special!

Posted by helen on March 18, 2010 11:30

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So the Bangkok Government only knows whats going on in Phuket if it is in the newspaper....hahahahaha!

''Most of the local Phuket news media do not report the problems, and the Bangkok Post and the Nation never mention them,'' he said. ''As a result, the government in Bangkok does not know what's happening.''

Posted by Anonymous on March 18, 2010 13:04

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Dear Editor: For one I can say that I complained to my consul and co-incidentally I found myself on a watch list a short time later. I live here, I have to co-exist.

Editor: So you pay bribes? Why not just do everything legally?

Posted by YaThinkDoctor? on March 18, 2010 13:49

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I don't like the way these editor-comments are pointing: More and more it sounds like the oh-so political correct newspapers OUTSIDE Thailand! Pls. stop lecturing, and let us have a PC free Phuket and Thailand, Okay?!

Editor: Oh, sure . . . .

Posted by BOM on March 18, 2010 21:00

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Larry Cunningham, said, ''This governor is doing more than all the past governors.'' He tried to fix up the jet skis, which has only helped a little bit. Then there are all of his road projects, not one of them has been accept by the government in bangkok..

Posted by James on March 19, 2010 02:02


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