Connect with us


Phuket Opinion: Fuelling the tyranny of greed

Legacy Phuket Gazette



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”.


Want more from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Thaiger Talk Forums.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Vietnam strikes deal to manufacture vaccines, but which brand?

Crime4 hours ago

Motorbike thieves arrested after a million baht of bikes stolen

Tourism7 hours ago

300 tourism businesses given SHA Plus certification in Phuket

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Chiang Rai7 hours ago

Police warn child pornography is a serious matter after teacher caught downloading clips

Weather8 hours ago

Tropical storm Koguma brings heavy rain to North, Northeast

Thailand8 hours ago

(Another) poll (also) shows Thais’ lack of confidence in vaccine campaign

Politics9 hours ago

Despite rumours, PM and goverment not planning early election

Thailand9 hours ago

Thai PM not happy with soccer gambling

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Doctors demand the government be more honest about Covid-19

Songkhla10 hours ago

Songkhla officials investigate pricey street lamps

Crime11 hours ago

Illegal casino operator accused of 4 charges including murder

Thailand11 hours ago

Survey shows lack of confidence in Government’s handling of vaccinations

Thailand12 hours ago

Goverment kind of discloses what the secret budget is spent on

Weather12 hours ago

Penis statue works as village sees rain after erection

Eastern Thailand13 hours ago

Man busted for allegedly possessing over 100 marijuana plants, selling marijuana online

Thailand3 months ago

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

Tourism3 months ago

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

Phuket3 months ago

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

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

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

Tourism4 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8