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Governor letter: Tourists need to obey Phuket laws

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Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada started his first day as the Phuket Governor on September 30, 2015. He is a Phuket native with a master’s degree in political and administrative science from the National Institute of Development Administration.

Here he talks about a list of dos & don’ts aimed at preventing so many tourists dying on the island and improving Phuket’s reputation as a tourist destination.

PHUKET: As we all know, foreigners die very frequently on the island, which creates a very negative image of Phuket as a tourist destination. Subsequently we get a lot of pressure from the international community, telling us that we do not take enough safety measures to protect tourists. This matter always comes up in consulate meetings.

Firstly it’s important to categorize the deaths of foreigners based on the circumstances before any action is taken.

The first category is deaths resulting from accidents, such as road deaths or unpredictable crimes. We cannot control the accidents people have, except for encouraging people to drive safely. For this we have launched many road safety drives, such as the helmet campaign and the ‘No Drunk Driving’ initiative, as well as many others.

These are ways we can help you, but you, the public, also have to help yourselves.

When people die from a crime then it is partly our fault, as we should be doing whatever we can to prevent those crimes. However, many people die because of their own misadventure, such as tourists who disobey red flags on the beaches warning people not to swim in dangerous areas.

There are signs in many different languages at the beaches, so understanding the dangers shouldn’t be a problem. Red flags are internationally recognized as meaning ‘do not swim’, yet people still end up swimming there and dying as a result. Frankly, such tourists deserve some kind of punishment.

We do respect tourists, but they are not gods. The concept of ‘the customer is god’ cannot be used all the time, and we have to take strong action against those tourists who blatantly disobey our laws.
Thailand is just too kind to tourists. They are often allowed to do whatever they want, just to keep attracting more tourists.

For example, some tourists wear only shorts and roam around shirtless in shopping malls or when riding motorbikes. Most Thais understand that foreigners do not always understand cultural differences and enjoy more freedoms in their own countries.

The question is: are they really doing this in their own countries? Do they walk around shirtless in their shopping malls? Although this is not strictly illegal, it simply isn’t acceptable in some places. Even if visitors don’t know about our culture, I would like them to at least obey our laws. If you obey them in your own countries, it is also important to do the same in this country.

It’s time to get strict with people who disobey laws, in order to protect the deaths of other innocent people.

I plan to have local authorities strengthen the list of dos and don’ts for tourists. We are doing our best to attract tourists to have a peaceful time while on the island and ordering officers to take strong action against lawlessness.

This ideology has led to the setting up of tourist security and service centers in every municipality. Officers at these centers will safeguard tourists, and also stop those who disobey the law.

The CCTV system on the island is now being repaired and new equipment is also being installed. This technology will help authorities keep an eye on tourist safety and catch more perpetrators.
While we do our best to ensure you do not die from accidents and other crimes, I ask all to be responsible for their own lives and help make Phuket a more pleasant place to visit for everyone.

— Kongleaphy Keam

 

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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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