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Opinion: Casting a line to catch human traffickers

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Opinion: Casting a line to catch human traffickers | The Thaiger

Lt Col Panya Chaichana, 53, is chief of the Phuket Marine Police. Originally from Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya province, Col Panya has been working for the Marine Police force for 34 years. He started out working for the Phuket Marine Office in 1981 before moving to Satun and Narathiwat provinces. He returned to Phuket in 1997.

Here, he talks about how Phuket handles illegal migrant workers and the human-trafficking trade in the island’s fishing industry.

PHUKET: Phuket Marine Police are targeting human trafficking victims that are being tricked, forced or conned into work and being obstructed from obtaining basic human freedoms or being treated violently at work.

Migrant workers do have the right to deal with placement agencies that can secure them legal work in the fishing industry.

However, those agencies must guarantee these people a safe work environment and minimum wages.
The human trafficking issues in Thailand’s fishing industry are mostly not derived from Phuket. Most migrant workers, about 90 per cent, in the fishing industry here have legal working documents.

Additionally, most of the fishing boats here only go out for a short time; some go out for one day, while others go out for a maximum of a week. Our situation is much different than that in the Gulf of Thailand, where many fishing boats take trips to places as far away as Indonesia.

These trips take many months to complete; the risk of human trafficking is much higher in these situations.

During long fishing expeditions, it is possible that people can be brought on board and forced to work, as they have less of a chance to escape the situation. This is a serious problem, which is why we must patrol and inspect fishing boats operating all of Thailand’s territorial waters.

The majority of the workers based in Phuket ports have mobile phones and regularly have reception, which means they are able to contact their families and the police, if necessary. If they have any problems, they are usually able to sort them out themselves.

The main issue we handle is when legal migrant workers are trying to get out of a contract, because they are either unwilling or unable to do the work – sometimes this can be due to something as simple as sea sickness. In these situations, we step in and help negotiate the situation to allow for the worker to return home.

In general, the Thai government has taken a strict stand against human trafficking. This stance goes beyond the fishing industry, it is targeting all kinds of human trafficking.

Human trafficking can be divided into two categories: the sex trade and labor.

Thailand was recently ranked by the United States State Department in its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report as among the worst for human trafficking, despite the nation’s recent efforts to counter human trafficking as ordered by the National Council for Peace and Order. The nation received this ‘Tier 3’ rank because it had failed to take steps to prevent human trafficking from taking place.

Thailand is now trying to take action against the illegal trade. We want the world to know that we take the human-trafficking problem seriously, and we hope that this is being made clear through our current efforts.

We hope that this move to stem the tide and eventually rid Thailand of human trafficking will result in our Trafficking in Persons status to be upgraded.

Anyone who suspects or has evidence of behavior related to human trafficking can contact the Marine Police at 076-211883, call me on my personal number at 081-894 7489 or call the 24-hour Marine Police Hotline at 1196.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Expats

Opinion: Retirees and medical insurance in Thailand

The Thaiger

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Opinion: Retirees and medical insurance in Thailand | The Thaiger

By Barry Kenyon of The Pattaya Mail

Thai government spokespeople, in recent years, have emphasised that that Thai hospitals are not free for foreigners. They have cited examples of sick and crowd-funded aliens desperate to get back to their home countries, or annual reports from public hospitals bemoaning the unpaid bills of foreign nationals.

So far not a lot has happened. Holders of one year 0/A visas or ten year 0/X, issued by Thai consulates and embassies abroad, do now require medical insurance worth at least 400,000 baht for in-patient treatment and 40,000 baht for out-patient care. But the vast majority of expat retirees in Thailand receive their annual extensions of stay at a Thai immigration office. They do not currently require insurance.

Will that change? It’s not clear. The government has already stated that long-stay aliens with a history of physical illness may be checked out before an extension of stay is granted. What this means, if anything, is unclear but it could signify the immigration bureau’s refusal if an applicant is discovered to have unpaid hospital bills.

One substantial reason for leaving well alone is that many expat retirees self-insure because they are too old or infirm to obtain medical insurance. But these wealthier retirees contribute billions of baht annually to (mostly) private hospital coffers when significant surgery is required. They would be forced out of the country if unobtainable medical cover was made compulsory, thus leading to a gigantic loss of income.

It’s also true that the mandatory insurance requirement for 0/A visa holders is modest. A sum of 400,000 baht may seem a lot but is unlikely to cover the total bill for heart surgery, most cancer operations and stays in an intensive care unit, at any rate in the private sector.

Read the rest of the editorial HERE.

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Opinion

Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge

The Thaiger

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Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge | The Thaiger

OPINION: The Buddhist Times

Since its creation in 1996, Buddha-Bar Paris has been using the name and image of Buddha in it’s Bars and Hotels throughout the world. Typically the franchises use large statues of Buddha in their Bars and around dance floors and in restaurants similar to a Buddhist temple.

What makes the use of Buddha’s image in these bars most insulting to Buddhists around the world is that Buddhism does not support the consumption of alcohol. So to use the Buddha’s image as decoration to promote the consumption and sale of alcohol and as a prop on dance floors and in restaurants is especially disrespectful and hurtful to Buddhists.

Now comes a further insult with the Buddha-Bar franchise opening the Siddhartha Lounge at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. (Siddhartha Gautama being the full name of Buddha).

According to the Knowing Buddha Organisation in Thailand what the Buddha-Bar franchise is doing is not only disrespectful but it is immoral. The foundation points out that “Respect is Common Sense”.

Buddhists feel hurt by the misuse of the name and image of their father, as people of other faiths would be if the image of Christ or Mohammad were used to promote bars and nightclubs.

The Buddha–Bar, restaurant, and hotel franchise created by French-Romanian restaurateur Raymond Vișan and DJ and interior designer Claude Challe, with its original location having opened in Paris, France in 1996.

Raymond Vișan, according to Wikipedia, had the idea of establishing the chain of restaurants and bars which came from his fascination with the Orient. However at the age of 60 Visan suddenly died of terminal cancer. The franchise was continued by co-founder Claude Challe and Vișan’s wife Tarja, who took over the reins of the Buddha Bar franchise upon Vișan death.

Critics of the Vișan’s and Claude Challe say that these self described artists and creators have created nothing but bad Karma and Sin for themselves. They suggest that Buddha-Bar franchise is a form of “grotesque Plagiarism ” which has merely hi-jacked a 2500 year old religion, using the name and image of Buddha, who imparts peace, compassion and loving kindness, for the purpose of selling alcohol and making money. As any case of plagiarism it is expected that Buddha-Bar and Waldorf Astoria will soon find them selves in the courts say Buddhims advocats.

Buddhist around the world are calling the Boycotting of Waldorf Astoria Hotels Hilton Hotels, Buddha-Bars and the music of Claude Challe, demanding that they stop using the image of Buddha and instead creat their own brand.

The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Thaiger or its staff

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Opinion

Pattaya getting set for the Indian era – OPINION

The Thaiger

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Pattaya getting set for the Indian era – OPINION | The Thaiger

by Dan Cheeseman

I was a bit taken back by posters across the social networks where I shared the post that simply would not accept the Indians were bringing any value to Pattaya. Claiming Thailand would regret squeezing out the Western market and turning to the Chinese and Indians. It came across as sour grapes to me and also a delusion of grandeur from many of the Brits and Aussies that for some reason hold themselves on such a high global status.

I am a Brit and in the past probably have fallen victim to such delusions but am now refocused and aligned to the shift in the global market. I can see just how real this Chinese and Indian market has become and see no reason for it to not to continue growing.

According to Tourism Authority of Thailand, Indian arrivals into Thailand is expected to reach 5 million by 2023.

It is well documented what is happening in Thailand with the Chinese tourist and investor but still, the Indian market gets skirted over by many who refuse to accept anything other than the stereotypical images.

But they are wrong to do so and I think the winners in Pattaya will be those that embrace the Indian market as there is an increasing percentage who have good money in the pocket and are ready to spend it.

Just this week I was with a hotel developer and they exactly spoke of the shift in investors that parallel what we are seeing through tourism. They said before the Western market was good but now that has cooled, then the Russians came but that too has eased off; both due to changes in exchange rates from their end. Then the Chinese started to buy but as their exchange rates became less strong against the baht and getting money out of their country that slowed, but now has recovered somewhat.

He then said what others have also been saying, that the Indians were now becoming a very important market for selling too.

Whilst many restaurants are looking to target the F.I.T (Free Independent Traveller) Chinese tourist, I personally think the Indian tourist is a better fit for Western-type business in town.

Read the rest of the editorial HERE

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