Connect with us


Phuket Opinion: Fuelling the tyranny of greed



PHUKET: It is high time for authorities to take serious steps to crack down on oil smuggling in Thai waters. The latest reported case in Phuket revealed itself in the most noxious of fashions last week, when the 20-meter fishing trawler Premika sank in the shallow waters of Klong Tah Jeen, allowing much of its cargo of tens of thousands of liters of diesel fuel to spill out into the remaining stands of mangrove forest that line the waterway (story here).

The case of the Premika is a tragic indictment of our government agencies’ collective failure to prevent fuel oil smuggling. The vessel is just one of hundreds – if not thousands – that are used in the unregulated trade that thrives in virtually every coastal province of Thailand.

As previously reported, a former registered caretaker of Premika was caught discharging some 40,000 liters of “heavy fuel” at Phuket Deep Sea Port back in September 2011. The caretaker, whose name indicates he is a member of one of the island’s most prominent political clans, was summarily taken to Phuket City Police headquarters and forced to pay a fine, calculated as a multiple of “taxes owed to the state”. Like many others before him, he was subsequently released as the existing law does not impose prison sentences on violators.

In the latest case, the owner of the vessel has been identified, but at last report “police were still looking for him”. The Phuket Gazette would advise readers not to hold their breath waiting for the man to be taken into custody. Like land encroachment, oil smuggling is yet another “rich man, poor man” game in Thailand.

Financed by “influential figures” who are generally above the law, the smuggling work is carried out by some of the poorest members of society, including many illegal aliens. In the rare cases where arrests are made, the masterminds pay off the measly fines, which are merely viewed as a “cost of doing business”.

The financial and social factors that encourage fuel oil smuggling are very well known to the Marine Police, Excise Department and other agencies assigned with prevention. The huge difference in fuel costs between Thailand and neighboring countries, the paltry fines and rampant corruption all combine to ensure that the racket is here to stay until Thai legislators rewrite the law and then enforce it in a way that ensures lengthy prison sentences are mandatory for the people behind it.

Perhaps saddest of all in the latest case is the almost complete lack of public outcry about this environmental disaster, which would have been national news in any country with a developed sense of environmental awareness.

With all this in mind, the Gazette notes with irony that the much-needed development of our Deep Sea Port remains on hold because the project has failed to pass its EIA review “on environmental grounds”.


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand3 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Storm Noru causing floods, death in northeast Thailand

Thailand3 hours ago

Airspace over Bangkok airport closed for airforce parade

Phuket3 hours ago

Four alleged investment scammers arrested in Phuket

Sponsored1 day ago

Segafredo Zanetti Coffee teamed up with Bangkok Airways and hosted “Bangkok Airways Surf Festival 2022”

Thailand4 hours ago

1 year old child allegedly snatched while parents slept

Air Pollution4 hours ago

For health reasons – Bangkok’s proposed congestion charge

Bangkok4 hours ago

As rain pours down on northern Thailand, Bangkok ups its canal drainage

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Cannabis4 hours ago

Traditional Thai medicine clinics offering cannabis treatments in Thailand

Health5 hours ago

Fizz buzz – Will kratom drinks ever hit the spot?

Patong5 hours ago

Four suspects admit they assaulted US tourist in Patong

Hot News6 hours ago

Doctor’s “sorry, not sorry” attitude after alleged hit-and-run of students lands him in hot water

Thailand6 hours ago

Police ignore cheating antics of drunk Bangkok cabbie

Pattaya6 hours ago

Third baby elephant of the year born at Pattaya garden

Thailand6 hours ago

Thai doctor warns against eating bats after ‘bat hunter’ sells for 100 baht per kilo

World7 hours ago

Kamala Harris visits South Korea a day after North Korea fires missiles

Events7 hours ago

Spartan Race to hit Phuket in November

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11