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Opinion

Phuket Opinion: Keeping the cops out of the drug business

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Opinion: Keeping the cops out of the drug business | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The Phuket Gazette wishes the new City police superintendent the best of luck in his effort to rid Phuket of illegal drug use and police corruption. He is certainly going to need it.

It is normal for newly-appointed government officers taking up key posts to state policy objectives, and those of Pol Col Chote Chitchai are irrefutably noble.

Col Chote’s predecessor, Col Wanchai Ekpornpit, used a creative “scared straight” approach in trying to increase the use of motorcycle crash helmets among the large, thick-skulled segment of the local population who opt to ride without one.

That effort, though initially long on PR, politics and theatrics, has since been extended to every police district in Phuket and would appear to have caused some increase in helmet use – though there is still a long way to go.

Drugs and official corruption are going to be even harder nuts to crack, particularly the latter as it has become official indeed.

That Col Chote is serious about cracking down on illegal drug use is demonstrated by his support for random drug testing of police officers and his encouragement of the public to report abuse directly to himself through his mobile phone, which he has asked the Phuket Gazette to publish: 081-970 2523.

Readers with doubts about the sincerity of Col Chote’s campaign against corruption and drugs are encouraged to read the story on page 3 of the current issue of the Gazette, as well as the colonel’s ‘First Person’ address to the public on page 9 in our issue of last week. (Digital subscribers may download both by clicking here.)

The Gazette fully agrees with testing of police offers because accountability has to start at the top, not at so-called “random” nightclubs or street corners where drug deals are known to take place.

“Random” drug testing, of course, is anything but that.

It’s common knowledge that many police officers in Phuket are heavily invested, legally and otherwise, in nightlife venues. Handing these ‘officers’ the authority to launch “random” raids simply gives the police-owned venues another unfair advantage over their competitors, as is evident in their ability to remain open past the legal closing hours.

The root of the problem lies in the demand for recreational drugs, especially methamphetamines. Well over half the prisoners at the dangerously overcrowded Phuket Prison are drug offenders.

The same situation exists at penal facilities across the country.

What Thailand really needs is a national debate on why the problem is so much worse here than in other countries. Is it about the magnitude of corruption?

That presumably short debate should then be followed by a public offering of alternative strategies to replace the failed ones that have led this country into its current state.

One such failed ‘strategy’ is public denial. The oft-heard “Other countries have drug problems, too” is artful and escapist in the extreme.

And the last thing we need is another scandal like the “war on drugs” launched by Thaksin in 2003, which led to extra-judicial killings on a massive scale and international condemnation. And which, as we now know, had no long term impact on drug use in Thailand at all.

Readers wishing to support Col Chote’s efforts with constructive ideas are invited to offer them in the comments section below.

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Opinion

“Racial profiling and xenophobic” – a rant against Dual Pricing

The Thaiger

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“Racial profiling and xenophobic” – a rant against Dual Pricing | The Thaiger

The rules are applied in a lumpy fashion at various tourist hot spots around the country as well as some national parks. Sometimes it’s applied, sometimes, not, sometimes there are signs, sometime they make it up as they go, sometimes they will allow local expats in for the Thai price.

There are dual-pricing apologists who say ‘Hey, it’s cheap anyway, so pay up and shut up’. Whilst dual-pricing whiners say it’s unfair, racist and shows a lack of grace towards tourists and foreigners.

Here’s the story from ‘Despondant Foreigner’. You can have your say on the post at our Facebook page

“I would like to share my story with you that happened to me this morning. I visited Promlok waterfall in Nakhon Si Thammaratt with my Thai wife, child and wife’s family. Upon arrival two soldiers approached our car and my wife began talking to them. They explained to her that as today is Songkran all Thai’s get to go to the waterfalls free of charge but I had to pay. Then a woman dressed in yellow approached the car who confirmed what the soldiers said and told my wife that this is a new law. Well we were all disgusted and proceeded to drive back down to the bottom of the waterfall where we could all swim for free.

I am absolutely disgusted by this. Yet another example of Thailand’s racial profiling and xenophobia towards foreigners. The fact that I am married and have children here doesn’t make a difference. Because I have white skin I must pay the fee whilst all Thais go in free.”

SOURCE: ThaiVisa

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Opinion

Fox News fake news, Phuket gets a bullet

Bill Barnett

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Fox News fake news, Phuket gets a bullet | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett, C9Hotelworks.com

As Phuket moves slowly into low season, a story published in the international media by the US-based Fox News about how tourists could face the death penalty over taking photos at the island’s airport is a highly flaw piece of sensationalist fake news.

Clearly there is no likelihood that the Thai authorities will apply a legal maximum penalty under the Air Navigation Act for tourists posing for selfies as airplanes land. More likely would be a  charge of trespassing and a fine.

Clicking into Google this morning the story is now running with the New York Post, MSN and other news outlets abroad.

What is distressing is to see how news providers sensationalize Thailand and Phuket with little regard as to the consequences of the economic impact of such a story.

For most readers, what they will remember when reading such a piece is only the headline about Phuket, Mai Khao Beach and the death penalty.

What a sorry state of affairs mainstream news has become.

To read the Fox News article clock HERE.

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Election

Is Thanathorn the new Thaksin? Will the ‘establishment’ tolerate his new political vision?

The Thaiger

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Is Thanathorn the new Thaksin? Will the ‘establishment’ tolerate his new political vision? | The Thaiger

Is Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit a popular fad or does he, and his party, have the staying power to make him a sustainable threat to the entrenched Thai political elite?

Many analysts are comparing Thanathorn to Thaksin in his early days. They say there are clear similarities. First off, Thanathorn is facing the kind of legal trouble that Thaksin faced when Thailand’s political crisis started to brew.

After becoming Thailand’s PM, Thaksin faced a share transfer scandal in which he moved his company shares to poor servants, allegedly to avoid stock market restrictions imposed on people owning big lots of stocks. Now, 40 year old Thanathorn is facing a legal controversy over his previous ownership of media shares, which could still doom his election candidacy.

The allegations are yet to be considered by the Election Commission.

Thaksin, in spite of repeated denials, was always alleged to have controversial political ambitions. Thanathorn, meanwhile, is seen in an increasingly similar situation. The list of complaints is growing, many to do with his perceived unorthodox ideology that contrasts with the conservative political ‘Thainess’ that includes non-negotiable support for the Army and Monarchy.

Thanathorn has been criticised for something he said about the Khana Ratsadon Party, which played an instrumental role in changing Thailand’s system from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy in 1932. The secretary-general of Thanathorn’s party has also been forced to deny making highly-controversial comments about Thailand’s political culture.

Future Forward did very well on March 24, surpassing pundits’ predictions for the new party. Analysts say the success is due to three main factors — Thanathorn’s youthful image that attracted the majority of first-time voters, the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party that shifted a lot of votes to Future Forward, and the new party’s fresh ideology and perspectives.

He, and the party, attracted a lot of newer voters along with a core of disaffected voters who are looking for change.

But Thanathorn’s looming legal trouble is described as a potential banana skin. It concerns a large number of shares he had in a media company, which were transferred to his mother so that he could qualify as an election candidate.

One apparently-private document, which he is relying on, showed he transferred the V-Luck Media Company shares on January 8, before he applied for election candidacy. Another document, which his accusers are relying on, apparently showed the transfer was brought to the authorities’ attention after he became an election candidate.

Controversy continues to build around the young billionaire and chances are it will grow.

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Thaiger

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