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A Decade Ago: Chasing the white dragon

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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A Decade Ago: Chasing the white dragon | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Headlines about methamphetamine, kratom, marijuana and even a little cocaine find their way into the Phuket Gazette fairly regularly. But, heroin… that’s a beast that rarely surfaces on this paradise island.

There was of course 22-year-old John Cawley, who was busted for running ‘birdie powder’ from Phuket to Koh Samui in 2013, but smack in general is either very well protected, or not a substance of choice in Phuket (story here). Nonetheless, the white dragon splashed out across page one of the Gazette a decade ago as three foreigners and one Thai were charged for attempting to smuggle 40 kilograms of heroin out of Thailand on a yacht. A plan not all too dissimilar to a scheme that entangled a former
Phuket resident in an international plot to move enormous stockpiles of North Korean methamphetamine (apparently the best of the best in terms of quality) through Thailand and into the United States. Now that was a Tom Clancy plot line if Phuket ever saw one (story here).

In both cases, well-planned international government operations took the alleged drug smugglers down before the sumptuous amounts of drugs flooded the streets of either Australia (in the case of the heroin) or New York City (in the case of the North Korean meth).

Phuket without a doubt has real drawl for international criminals looking to go ostrich and keep their heads low for a while. Just last week, Interpol was ahead of the clairvoyant curve and pushed police to scoop up a Russian national wanted in his role in a 62-million-baht parapsychological and extrasensory perception (ESP) services fraud case (story here).

The November 12 -18, 2005 issue of the Gazette wasn’t all about international drug smuggling though. In fact, on the side of page one, the newspaper announced the details of the 1-year anniversary of the tsunami.

In extraordinarily compassionate move, that borders in being heroic, Thailand offered relatives of those who went missing or died, as well as those who were injured in the disaster, free flights and accommodation for two nights to those wishing to attend the ceremonies at beach locations in Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi.

Also catching headlines ten years ago was the Phuket Zoo, which the Phuket’s dolphinarium has recently nuzzled up against in Chalong. A number of tourist complaints about the conditions of the zoo prompted Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura to lead an investigation into the possible maltreatment of the animals and water quality. A decade later, Gazette columnist Patrick Campbell happily discovered real improvements at the facility (story here and here). However, a larger moral battle is now being fought over the dolphinarium with people taking sides on the idea of captive sentient animals in general.

One such animal that doesn’t seem to be weighing into the debate are soi dogs, whether or not they can be considered domesticated is really up for debate. Nonetheless, November 2005 was a big moment for soi dogs on Phuket, as the government officially gave the Soi Dog Foundation ‘foundation status’, allowing those local canine heroes involved to return to their good work from which we continue to benefit, ten years later.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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

Tourism

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

Maya Taylor

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at worldometer.info website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

Police tracked down and arrested a Burmese woman who allegedly left her newborn baby on a bench in Phuket’s Patong area last week. The mother faces charges of abandoning a baby.

The newborn was left in a reusable shopping bag on a bench behind a Krungthai Bank branch. A woman in the area heard the baby crying and found the newborn in the bag along with a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing. Police reviewed surveillance camera footage shows a woman, police later identified as Ei Ei Phyu, leaving the bag on the bench.

Police say the woman gave birth on September 9 at a local hospital in Surat Thani’s Phun Phin district. Ei Ei allegedly took a van from Surat Thani to Phuket on September 22 and stayed with a friend in Patong. The early the next morning, she allegedly left her baby on the bench before boarding a bus back to Surat Thani.

Burmese workers in the Patong area told police Ei Ei used to work at a local Indian food restaurant before she moved to Surat Thani to work as a rubber tapper. Ei Ei allegedly told police she is not in the position to raise a child.

In earlier reports, police said the baby is healthy and does not appear to have any injuries.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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