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'Nurse Jenny' Rangsansarit, just one among scores of heroes and helpers

Thailand Must Honor Tsunami Heroes

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
PHUKET: One of the most urgent tasks of Phuket's new governor, Nisit Jansomwong, will be to quickly organise the way the Andaman coast commemorates the tenth anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Ambassadors from as many as 40 countries are still waiting to hear what the Thai government has planned to mark the enormously significant event, envoys told Phuketwan today.

With the focus on the Asian Beach Games in late November, officials in Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga appear to have so far failed to co-ordinate a response to the tsunami anniversary, which is far more relevant.

''The Thai Government and the Tourism Ministry appear to be missing out on an opportunity to promote all the good things about Thailand,'' Phuketwan editor Alan Morison told a meeting at the Rotary Club of Patong Beach last night.

''If the government fails to act, perhaps Rotary along the Andaman coast can mark the event properly,'' Morison said. ''The 5400 victims of the disaster must be remembered.

''But so should the enormous outpouring of generosity, the heroism, the good deeds and the remarkable scientific achievement in identifying so many thousands of the victims.''

'Nurse Jenny' Rangsansarit from Phuket's Patong Hospital achieved national recognition for the way she coped after the tsunami struck Phuket in dealing with such a vast tragedy. Before December 26, 2004, she was expert in delivering babies but had never seen a dead body.

''The tsunami made Phuket a household name around the world and it really is time that the great deeds performed by a vast number of heroes and helpers were acknowledged with a Tsunami Medal by the Thai Government,'' Morison said.

''Many countries have documentary makers in Thailand right now, working on coverage of the tenth anniversary. Yet we haven't heard a peep from the government. This is a great opportunity to celebrate everything that is good about Thailand.

''There were scores of heroes and helpers who achieved wonders. It's time to tell the world about them.''

While the tsunami killed more people in and around Khao Lak and on Phi Phi, it was Phuket that became the centre of international attention before news came of the 160,000 deaths in Aceh and thousands more in India and Sri Lanka.

''The national government also needs to make plain its policy on guarding tourists against a second tsunami,'' Morison added today. ''Seaquakes are inevitable and the only certain protection for Phuket and the Andaman and its tourists comes from eternal vigilance.''

With tsunami signage in disrepair in some parts of the Andaman and with leading ambassadors in Bangkok scratching their heads about what is planned, Morison said it was time for the government to act before it was too late.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


It appears to be a typical Thai attitude to ignore the bad things that happened in the past and concentrate on increasing tourist revenue. The TAT would think that the tenth anniversary of the tsunami would have a negative effect on tourism, so as a consequence they will do nothing. As you say signage identifying escape routes has disappeared or cannot be read just goes to show the lack of care and thought. Surely they can't hope that such a disaster will be forgotten, because so many families will take their memories of 2004 to their graves.

Posted by Pete on October 1, 2014 12:22

Editor Comment:

We don't wear blinkers that block out everything except the negatives. The tsunami was both a tragedy and a triumph of the human spirit. It may be difficult for you to understand but we're suggesting that medals recognising the heroes and the helpers would actually be good for tourism. Thailand's reaction was amazing and deserving of recognition.


It would also be nice if some of the countries affected by the tsunami chose to honor some of the Thais identified as performing great deeds with some award or recognition. In the midst of disaster & despair, there were some remarkable rescues & heroics reported.

The UK (for example) has an honors system which could be applied.

Posted by Logic on October 1, 2014 15:20

Editor Comment:

Yes. The tsunami produced remarkable deeds and we are calling on the government to celebrate the wonderful response by Thais and foreigners to this catastrophe. There will not be a better chance to highlight the greatness of the response.


Overall, keeping in mind many major mis-successes of developed countries to cope with major disasters being it hurricane Katrina or sinking of Costa Concordia, Thailand's overall response in 2004 tsunami aftermath on many levels, both government, and individual, was really good.
Many of tsunami survivors are forming loyal tourist base.

Surely, recognition in public of efforts of individuals, would be beneficial from many points of view.

Some lessons have lessons learnt, and are still in place - no wooden sunbeds on the beach, even at sunbed-peak-time that lasted until recently on Phuket beaches.

To hide a head in the sand, that such tsunami was a one-off event, is naive and misleading, as exact timing of earthquake can't be predicted at current level of science research.
It is clear that major earthquake of catastrophic scale, possibly with tsunami, will take a place one day around Sumatra, it's only not known when - whether within few weeks or few centuries.

Reminding of 2004 events is useful to direct attention to level of tsunami alert infrastructure and how Thais and tourists mutually dependent in various ways.

Posted by Sue on October 1, 2014 21:55


"The TAT would think that the tenth anniversary of the tsunami would have a negative effect on tourism.."

Although your supposition is likely true Pete, we should keep in mind that there is a flip side to that coin.

That would be doing the right thing - and letting the chips fall where they may. I think not acknowledging the Tsunami - and the brave helpers would be TAT marketing mini-nightmare.

The 'ostrich' must take its head out of the hole in the sand at some point..


Posted by farang888 on October 2, 2014 06:53

Editor Comment:

On e of our most odious readers has responded: ''@farang888.. for how many years do you need to celebrate a disaster, please, let people move on... The other thing is, in typical Thai fashion, if it is not mentioned, it didn't happen, there are already many, eg, 20, and less,year olds who would say "what tsunami."'

Well, a goose would say that. The chances of a second tsunami are not decreasing. Eternal preparedness is vital, along with celebrating the greatness of Thais and their friends in a catastrophe. Children - and odious readers - need to be educated.


think Jim's approach is exactly one of the medicines this Island needs!

Focussing on all the positives, awarding them by recognizing them, also when happening as a result of a disaster like a tsunami!

But also to present day: recognize those who help others selflessly(!) and as such stand for what we would want this island to become again!
Starting with the Tsunami rescue and relief workers would be a good start!

IF the authorities don't grab this opportunity, it might be something to be done by private initiative, for instance by Phuketwan, Rotary, and others AND please make sure the ordinary guys get their fair share, it should be truly earned and not influenced by social status;-)

Good luck, great worthwhile idea!

Posted by Rob VC on October 2, 2014 09:59

Editor Comment:

We're glad you and Jim like our idea.


Just checking in to see if anyone has heard anything about tsunami 10-anniv events in the region yet. I passed through Khao Lak last week and saw some signs for a "Tsunami Recall" event but so far that's all I've seen or heard!

Posted by Lana on October 30, 2014 16:41


I was informed that most Consulates on Phuket organize a memorial service out side the respective Consulates with a flag- and flower ceremony. Consulates will send invitations to their nationals who are living on Phuket.

I do sincerely hope that the Phuket Governor set instruments in motion to gather and honour the many thai people who were so great and good in their doing during the time after the tsunami. Their warmth, their help, their sharing the little they had with the victims may never be forgotten.

Posted by Kurt on October 31, 2014 10:09

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