Connect with us


EXCLUSIVE: Phuket Prison’s female inmates talk about their lost lives

Legacy Phuket Gazette



EXCLUSIVE: Phuket Prison’s female inmates talk about their lost lives | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Behind the walls of Phuket Provincial Prison are more than 2,000 inmates. About 350 of them are women; most of them doing time for drug dealing.

The Gazette takes you behind the bars of Phuket’s cramped prison for exclusive insights into the lives and circumstances of two women, ‘Wan’ and ‘Bee’, locked up for drug-related crimes in a facility built more than 100 years ago to house only 800 inmates.

Are social changes and the pressures of modern society to blame? Did these women have a choice or was drug dealing the only way out of poverty?

Wan and Bee’s days begin at 6am. They either take part in job training programs or work in the bakery, in which case they get up at 5am. The prison bakery runs every day, making food for the inmates and to sell at a stall in the visitors waiting area.

The female inmates follow a strict daily routine. After rising, they exercise for an hour, then take a shower before breakfast. All the food served at the prison is vegetarian.

Married mother of two, Wan, 28, started selling drugs as a quick cash earner to support her children and husband, a mechanic earning a small wage in a small back-street garage.

“I was a housewife looking after our two children; a 10 year old and a newborn. We were all surviving on my husband’s small wage. I wanted more money but I didn’t have a job. Selling drugs was the only thing I could think about doing that would allow me to make money and be at home with my children. Some friends introduced me to the drug world,” said Wan.

Four months later Wan was arrested with more than a kilogram of crystal methamphetamine (ya ice).
“I knew right from the start that one day I would be caught.”

At the time of the interview, Wan was still waiting to be sentenced and had no idea how long that sentence might be, yet she was already resigned to her fate of a life behind bars.

“I lost my future. The only future I have now is here, serving time for selling drugs. I can’t be with my children or my husband. He is out there working hard, alone, to take care of the kids. I regret what I have done. If I could turn back the clock, I would definitely not do it again,” said Wan.

As well as missing her husband and kids, Wan said that seeing her parents happy was what she wanted to see more than anything else.

“I never did anything to make them [my parents] happy. I never bought them anything, never took them anywhere nice. I was not a good daughter. I did not take good care of them and now I am stuck here. I want to pay them back but I am not sure if I will ever have the chance.”

“If I do get out, I will stay away from drugs.”

Like many who get mixed up in the drugs, Wan comes from a broken home. However, she does not blame her circumstances for ending up in jail. She accepts that she is now paying the price for the
decisions she alone made in the past.

“My parents separated years ago. I was left to fend for myself from a young age, but it’s not their fault that I decided to start selling drugs,” said Wan.

“It’s not like the movies, where drug dealers are forced into selling drugs. It’s up to the individual what they choose to do about their circumstances.”

“I want to warn anyone thinking about getting into drugs to think twice. It seems like an easy way to make a lot of money very quickly, but please stop and think first. You are about to trade your whole future for some quick cash. You may get away with it for a while but it will not last. You will eventually get caught,” said Wan.

‘Bee’ is 21 years old and is serving a lengthy sentence for drug dealing. It was just 117 grams of crystal meth that changed her entire life. By the time she gets out she will be almost 50 years old.

“I lived with my father but I did not want to bother him by asking for money. I found my own ways to earn a living. I grew up in Phuket and finished secondary school (pratom 6). I have tattoos, which makes it difficult to find a job. Most employers turn their noses up at people like me, with a low education,” said a calm and collected Bee, who seemed to have already accepted her future life behind bars.

“I wanted to study more but I never had the chance. We did not have enough money and my father didn’t do much to support me.”

“I was selling drugs for about a year before I was caught and sentenced to 25 years in jail,” said Bee.

Phuket Provincial Prison only houses inmates serving sentences of under 15 years. Bee however, remains incarcerated in Phuket while waiting for the verdict of another trial on drug-related charges, before being transferred to Nakorn Sri Thammarat Central Prison.

“Money was the only reason I got into the drug business. Just like everyone else, I had to earn a living. Without a good education and nobody to support me, my only option was to sell drugs,” said Bee.

“My father passed away not long after I was imprisoned. I didn’t see him again. I had a hard time dealing with that.

Just like Wan, Bee looks forward to one day seeing her family again.

“The first thing I want to do when I get out is see my younger sister and my aunt. They are both in Phuket. I hope they are still around then.”

Even though Wan and Bee are in prison for similar crimes and are now paying with their lives for the bad decisions they made, each has a starkly different outlook to the other. Wan vows never to go near drugs again. However, Bee is much less certain about being able to steer clear of the drug scene in the future.

“I do not want to get involved in drug dealing after I am released, but I can’t tell what my situation will be in the future,” she said.

Options for women in need

The Phuket Shelter for Children and Families in Koh Sireh is one local organization empowering struggling women. Director, Sirumporn Komonsanao, says there are many options for women who are willing to work.

“The shelter is one of a network of shelters in every district in the province supported by the Department of Social Development and Welfare. Each community has someone in charge of helping those women in the area looking for work,” said Ms Sirumporn.

“If you need help, just call us on 1300. We are available 24/7. Or you can contact any government office in your community, where job training is provided free of charge. Women in the community can make suggestions about the things they want to learn and we will look for experts to train them, and provide all equipment,” said Ms Sirumporn.

Ms Sirumporn admitted that despite their efforts, there are still some women in desperate need of help who still fall through the cracks.

They would be people unwilling to share their problems with others or simply don’t know that there are people out there ready and willing to help.

“It is our job to help women get back on their feet so they can care for themselves and their family but, ultimately, it is their job to work at it rather than taking short cuts by selling drugs,”

A woman’s choice

“A lot of women who live in Phuket are from other provinces and I believe many end up involved in the drug trade because of the high cost of living here,” said Ms Sirumporn.

“Many are single mothers who are desperate to find a way to provide for their children. Naturally, any mother will do whatever she can to support her own children. Selling drugs can appear to be a quick and easy way to make ends meet but that is a choice only they can make,” she said.

“There are many other ways for women to make a decent living. It is a matter of choice; deciding whether or not to risk the consequences of earning money illegally.”

Patong Police officer Lt Col Sutthichai Thianpho has little sympathy for drug dealers.

“Think of all the hard-working people out there, working long hours for a low wage. They don’t turn to drugs. They just get on with life, no matter how hard it is,” he said.

“Of course, finding a quick and easy way to earn money can be very attractive, but not everyone chooses to deal drugs. Those who take short cuts by dealing drugs will eventually end up in jail.”

Parts of Phuket prison have recently been painted, making it as charming as a prison can be.

The place is clean and the inmates live by daily routines not dissimilar to the lives of those beyond the prison walls.

However, prison warden, Suparat Tantipongwiwat, has firm views on the purpose of the prison.

“We do our best to take care of the prisoners. However, this is still a prison.
It is meant to curtail certain freedoms. This is a place for people who break the law,” she said.

“Nobody ever wants to get locked up, but the way to stay out is easy. Don’t break the law.”

— Chutharat Plerin

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

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

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht

The Thaiger & The Nation



Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Newshawk Phuket

Drugs valued at 15 million baht have been seized in a drug crackdown in Phuket. On October 22, Phuket police, along with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, reported to the media about a drug crackdown that ended up with a total seizure valued around 15 million baht.

Earlier, the police received a report from an undercover agent that a woman named ‘Ying’ or ‘Suthicha Thirawut’ was a local drug dealer trading drugs in Phuket area, so police planned to purchase drugs from the woman. They contacted Ying through another woman named ‘Noina’, Ying’s close friend. Around 10pm on October 20, police bought 1 gram of crystal methamphetamine from Noina before arresting Ying and another man, Thanet Thongtan, at the Naka Condominium.

The two confessed that they receive the drug from a man who they weren’t able to name, in order to sell in Phuket. They were paid 40,000 – 50,000 baht per time and admitted to police that they have done this for the man three times already. This time, the drugs hadn’t been sold to customers as they were arrested before being able to make a sale.

Apart from 2.4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, valued around 4.8 million baht, the police also discovered 76,800 methamphetamine pills, worth around 11 million baht.

The three are now assisting Phuket police with their enquires related to the case.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading


30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer



30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.


Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading


Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger



Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.


Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading

The Thaiger Newsletter

Keep up with all the day’s news. Subscribe here.

The latest news and information from Thailand.

* indicates required

สรุปดราม่า “หนังน้องเดียว ลูกทุ่งวัฒนธรรม” เล่นหนังตะลุง “ด่าพระสงฆ์” | The Thaiger
ข่าว2 days ago

สรุปดราม่า “หนังน้องเดียว ลูกทุ่งวัฒนธรรม” เล่นหนังตะลุง “ด่าพระสงฆ์”

ม็อบ “สมัชชาคนจน” เดินเท้าถึงทำเนียบ กดดันรัฐบาลไม่จริงใจ [Live] | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง3 days ago

ม็อบ “สมัชชาคนจน” เดินเท้าถึงทำเนียบ กดดันรัฐบาลไม่จริงใจ [Live]

ชมวาทะเด็ดธนาธร ให้การศาลรัฐธรรมนูญ คดีวีลัค ทำงานการเมืองเพราะอยากเปลี่ยนแปลงสังคม | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง6 days ago

ชมวาทะเด็ดธนาธร ให้การศาลรัฐธรรมนูญ คดีวีลัค ทำงานการเมืองเพราะอยากเปลี่ยนแปลงสังคม

ตรวจหวย 16/10/62 รางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย1 week ago

ตรวจหวย 16/10/62 รางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ

ตรวจหวย 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ผลสลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล 16/10/62 | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย1 week ago

ตรวจหวย 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ผลสลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล 16/10/62

ถ่ายทอดสด “สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล” 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สด ๆ | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย1 week ago

ถ่ายทอดสด “สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล” 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สด ๆ

หนุ่มแท็กซี่ฉาว ท้าต่อยเจ้าของธุรกิจเต๊นท์ กลางงานสนามหลวง | The Thaiger
ข่าว1 week ago

หนุ่มแท็กซี่ฉาว ท้าต่อยเจ้าของธุรกิจเต๊นท์ กลางงานสนามหลวง

ไทยแชมป์วอลเลย์บอลอาเซียนกรังด์ปรีซ์สนาม 2 รางวัลรายบุคคล | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล2 weeks ago

ไทยแชมป์วอลเลย์บอลอาเซียนกรังด์ปรีซ์สนาม 2 รางวัลรายบุคคล

ตรวจหวย1ตุลาคม2562 ผลรางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย3 weeks ago

ตรวจหวย1ตุลาคม2562 ผลรางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ

ถ่ายทอดสดหวย 1 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย3 weeks ago

ถ่ายทอดสดหวย 1 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล

สีจิ้นผิงกล่าวสุนทรพจน์ ครบรอบ 70 ปีก่อตั้งสาธารณรัฐประชาชนจีน -ลิงก์ถ่ายทอดสด | The Thaiger
ต่างประเทศ3 weeks ago

สีจิ้นผิงกล่าวสุนทรพจน์ ครบรอบ 70 ปีก่อตั้งสาธารณรัฐประชาชนจีน -ลิงก์ถ่ายทอดสด

คลิปไฮไลท์วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 5 | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

คลิปไฮไลท์วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 5

คลิปไฮไลท์ วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 1 | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

คลิปไฮไลท์ วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 1

Paramount เตรียมรีเมค FACE/OFF หนังบู๊ระดับตำนาน | The Thaiger
หนัง1 month ago

Paramount เตรียมรีเมค FACE/OFF หนังบู๊ระดับตำนาน

ประยุทธ์ โต้ รัฐบาลไหนก็มีตำหนิทั้งนั้น “ถึงเวลาก็อ้างอย่างที่ผมอ้าง” | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง1 month ago

ประยุทธ์ โต้ รัฐบาลไหนก็มีตำหนิทั้งนั้น “ถึงเวลาก็อ้างอย่างที่ผมอ้าง”