Connect with us

Opinion

A Decade Ago: Songkran, road-safety and dive regulations

Published

 on 

PHUKET: Despite having significantly fewer people, fewer cars, fewer motorbikes and fewer tour buses on the island ten years ago, the Songkran ‘Days of Danger’ safety goals were much more reasonable.

As has become the trend over the last few years, Phuket is joining the nation in a ‘Seven Days of Danger’ campaign this year with the unrealistic provincial goal of having zero road deaths. However, in the April 15-21, 2006 issue of the Phuket Gazette, the goal was to have no more than four people die on the roads and no more than 53 people seriously injured during the 10-day campaign.

In 2004 and 2005, only three people died during the holiday campaign. However, hundreds were seriously injured. In recent years, with death tolls often outpacing the unrealistic goal of ‘zero deaths’ by day one of the campaign, even police officers seem to be throwing up their hands and saying, ‘We’re doing the best we can’.

Setting unrealistic goals in anything is a common mistake most of us suffer at the new year. How many people made it to the Chinese New Year carrying on their New Year resolutions? Anyone make it to the Thai New Year? So, officials are suffering a common problem that has simply crept in somewhere over the last 10 years.

The real problem is that unrealistic goals mean we are accepting failure. Nobody, and I mean nobody in their right mind, will haul the Phuket police over the coals if someone dies on the roads during this year’s safety campaign. With such an acceptance of failure, we are really only around the bend from creating an entire road-safety culture where failure is not only accepted, but expected.

As the April 15, 2006 issue of the Gazette went to print, we were already four days into the 10-day campaign with three dead and 43 injured. Unfortunately, sometimes we even fall short of realistic goals.

Though the goals have changed in Phuket over the years, some of the headlines haven’t. “Dive industry ‘requires more regulations’ – Palad,” reads a headline on page two of the Gazette a decade ago. The ongoing battle to understand and regulate the dive industry was a point of contention even back in 2006, with officers claiming that because of the dive industry’s importance to the tourism industry as a rich source of revenue, the government should regulate operators more rigorously.

The issue at the time – different from the current issue of diver safety, which has tarnished the industry over the last six months – was whether or not dive companies were being operated legally: were they registered businesses with Thai ownership, did they issue work permits for foreign employees, were they paying their taxes, and so on.

“We don’t think that these regulations [put in place to ensure dive shops are running legally] will deter dive operators from investing money in Thailand,” said Phuket’s Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) at the time.

“In the end, they’ll thank us, because we’ll get rid of the companies that give the industry a bad name.”
Ten years later, it’s easy to find lawfully registered dive company owners bemoaning the flyby operators that continue to damage the industry’s reputation. So, the Palad’s point remains valid.

Unlike when the April 16-22 issue of the Gazette went to print, where the wet, wild fun of Songkran was ahead of us, the April 15, 2006 issue saw editors and reporters already in the thick of it.

So, in full Sonkgran spirit, the Gazette closed for the holidays – editors either ready for a well-deserved break or simply not willing to leave home for fear of being inundated with water. With the island’s premier English-language media company’s doors closed, there was no April 22 issue of the Gazette.

However, worry not. As internet and social media have stoked the flames for media consumption throughout the world, the Gazette editors won’t abandon you for the holidays – they will ensure you can get the island’s top stories on Facebook, in the Gazette Online, and, of course, in print.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

 

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:

Thailand20 mins ago

VIDEO: Floods tear through highway in northeast Thailand

Crime22 mins ago

13 murdered, including 7 kids by Russian neo-Nazi

Thailand1 hour ago

Vegetarian Festival on Yaowarat Road starts today

Sponsored9 hours ago

International money transfers made fast, secure and transparent with DeeMoney Neo App

Thailand1 hour ago

Thailand News Today | Baht continues surge against strong dollar

Bangkok2 hours ago

VIDEO: Fire falls like rain from communication cables in Bangkok

Thailand2 hours ago

Father allegedy kills daughter’s cat for stealing his meatballs

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Central Thailand3 hours ago

Whale watching season begins in Phetcha Buri

Special Features3 hours ago

Top 10 studio condos in Phuket (2022)

Crime4 hours ago

Thai court overwhelmed with evidence in Forex-3D fraud case

Tourism4 hours ago

Airport expansion plans hastened across Thailand

Thailand4 hours ago

Viral video: American man joins Thai dance in Isaan rite

Politics5 hours ago

China backs Thailand to make APEC a success

Politics6 hours ago

Gen-Z students oppose an unelected senate 17 to 1

Thailand6 hours ago

Foreigner allegedly using dogs to scam Chiang Mai locals

Cannabis News6 hours ago

Tourist breaks Singaporean law by consuming cannabis in Thailand

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

Trending