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Phuket

Anything to declare? Airport officials asked to target bags of undisclosed cash

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Anything to declare? Airport officials asked to target bags of undisclosed cash | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Officers at Phuket International Airport have been asked to target people carrying large amounts of undisclosed cash in the ongoing battle to crack down on transnational crime.

The request comes from Glenn Tankard of the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Mr Tankard was in Phuket early this month in his role as head of the Thai Transnational Crime Coordination Network (TCCN) central office in Bangkok.

“Immigration at the airport should look out for suspicious people, such as those who do not declare that they are carrying US$10,000 or more,” said Mr Tankard.

“Excess, undeclared money is a standard indicator that someone is involved in money laundering, which only arises from other crimes… This is something very small that immigration can pick up that could paint a bigger picture of a possible criminal network.”

Catching people who are trying to smuggle in large amounts of undisclosed cash can expose international criminal networks, including drug smugglers, wildlife smugglers, human traffickers and arms dealers, Mr Tankard added.

The AFP officer explained that his recent four-day visit was to follow up on a joint Thai-Australian initiative targeting transnational crime, for which a meeting of Phuket’s top-ranking police officers was held in Phuket Town in August last year (story here).

“The joint project [TCCN] between the AFP and the Royal Thai Police has been going on for about eight years. The key is the computer database in which Thai police collect and analyze intelligence, especially data about transnational crimes across the borders of Thailand,” Mr Tankard said.

“I came down here [from Bangkok] just to talk to staff who work in the transnational crimes unit, to make sure there are no problems with hardware.

“The system was initially installed at Phuket Provincial Police Station in Phuket Town about six years ago and at Phuket International Airport at the end of last year, so staff at the airport might need more training.”

THE DATABASE

The database – called the Case Management and Intelligence System (CMIS) – links all TCCN units across the country, allowing them to share intelligence on transnational crime.

“There are about 30 TCCN units throughout Thailand,” Mr Tankard said.

Maj Gen Apichat Suriboonya, head of the National Central Bureau – Interpol Bangkok office, explained to the Gazette that the CMIS also allows officers to crosscheck information about every wanted criminal in the Interpol database, which compiles information from the international crime agency’s 190 member countries.

The system can also identify all passports reported to Interpol as lost or stolen.

“The CMIS is regularly updated with the latest reports from Interpol. All the information is uploaded to our central server in Bangkok, which all TCCN units across the the country can search,” Gen Apichart said.

“It can search passports in the system by name, telephone number or any relevant information about the person. It can also match a face to a name.”

ON THE LINE

The CMIS is the same database used to verify passports used as collateral to rent cars and motorbikes in Phuket, which rental operators in Patong now submit to Interpol via the smartphone application Line (story here).

However, Mr Tankard said that the Line project was outside his remit. “I am aware of the operation launched by Interpol to check information about lost and stolen passports from all provinces in Thailand, including Phuket, but I believe it is an operation being run solely through Interpol,” he said.

“All the information sent is collected in Bangkok. The information is put into the shared system so that we can find links between stolen passports and use them to identify individuals who might be involved in the lost and stolen passport trade.”

GOING LOCAL

Following the discovery that two passports stolen in Phuket were used to board missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, Gen Apichat told the Gazette that he would like to see the CMIS made available at Patong Police Station.

“Many tourists from around the world visit Phuket, and in particular Patong, and many passports are reported as lost or stolen in Patong. That was brought to the world’s attention with the passport that was used for two passengers to board the Malaysian Airlines flight,” he explained.

“Having the CMIS at Patong Police Station can help identify any passports reported as lost or stolen that are being used by other people [other than the genuine holders].”

However, Mr Tankard said he had not been notified of any request to assist in setting up a CMIS access terminal in Patong.

“I understand that having a CMIS in Patong would make it quicker and easier for officers there to check the system. Right now, they have to ask the TCCN at Phuket Provincial Police Station to check for them.

“We are always looking into installing the software at more locations in order to gather more information, including in Phuket and other tourist destinations. However, we have yet to decide when we will set up another transnational crime center in Phuket. We are looking into it.”

— Chutharat Plerin

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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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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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Phuket

Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works

The Thaiger

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Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works | The Thaiger

The Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority says Rawai’s mains water supply will be shut off tomorrow (Tuesday, October 15) as new water pipes are fitted in front of The Title Beach Front condo resort complex on the town’s beachfront.

The mains water supply will be shut off from 9am until 4:30pm along the beachfront strip.

The PWA says the areas affected will be along Wiset Road along the Rawai beachfront road, as well as Soi Yanui and Soi Ruafaed.

Residents and businesses are being urged to collect water for use during the day today, before tomorrow morning’s shut-off.

As usual, the PWA say…“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Contact the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority on 076 319173 or 082 7901634 for more details.

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