Haad Yai bombings prompt police call for public help

PHUKET: Following the six terrorist bombings that rocked central Haad Yai on Saturday night, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Pol Col Decha Butnampetch has urged for public support in keeping the island free of any acts of terrorism that could harm the island’s tourism industry.

Pol Col Decha called for the support at a seminar at Patong Hospital attended by a large crowd of people from a diverse range of occupations, including hotel owners, real estate developers, government officials and representatives of the Patong Motorcycle Taxi Association.

The Haad Yai blasts, which signify a major escalation of the on-going violence in the Deep South, are expected to have a major negative impact on tourism to that city, the most popular destination among Malaysians tourists after Singapore. Malaysia is Thailand’s single largest source of foreign tourists.

Pol Col Decha noted that the Haad Yai blasts had cleared that city of tourists practically overnight.

It would take a minimum of at least six months before the situation there would begin to return to normal, he said.

In order to prevent Phuket from suffering a similar fate, he called on the public to keep a sharp eye out and report to police any suspicious activities or occurrences.

“Protecting Phuket depends in large part on the people who live here … because 1,010 police officers are not enough to fully protect the 600,000 to 700,000 people who live here,” he said.

“The public can help the authorities in many ways. The main methods are abiding by the law, not supporting or assisting criminals and keeping an eye out for any criminal activity, which should be reported as soon as possible. It’s not as hard as one might think,” he said.

Police have stepped up security inspections at police checkpoints around the island, including the Tung Tong checkpoint on the way to Patong Hill, at Chalong Circle and at Tah Chat Chai.

Also present at the seminar was Runjuan Tongrut, Assistant Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Southern Region 4 office in Phuket City.

“The bombs in Haad Yai may have frightened people from visiting the South, but I think the impact on Phuket will be limited because Phuket and Haad Yai are 500 to 600 kilometers apart. Also, I am confident in the work of the government, including the police,” she said.

“The main duty of TAT is to promote the country and its tourist destinations. We have done our best to promote the island, which is reflected by the fact that the number of the tourists visiting Phuket has increased compared to the same period last year,” she said.

“Since the violence in Haad Yai, we have yet to receive any reports of canceled flights to Phuket. However, we have to monitor the situation carefully and should have a better picture of the situation in about a week’s time,” she added.

She said that tourists coming to Phuket can rest assured of good security, because the safety and well-being of tourists remains the government’s top priority.

After the seminar, Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura told the Gazette that while people should remain alert, there was no need to panic about the the bombings in Haad Yai or the rifle seizure at Tah Chat Chai.

He said that even though reports of these incidents naturally led to uneasy feelings, the public should remain confident in the good work being done by Phuket province and its provincial police force.

Phuket News
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