PHUKET: The Royal Thai Police have ordered a “media blackout” for Phuket, with only the local police superintendent authorized to release information to the media, the Phuket Gazette has learned.
News of the blackout follows yet another disturbing report involving a tourist and a local, although this one has a happy ending – thanks to a brave Japanese tourist.
According to one local media report, a Japanese tourist came to the rescue of an Australian woman who was attacked at 4am this morning (July 4) by a man near a Patong hotel.
The media outlet made no mention as to the source of the information, but is known to have a reliable source in cases involving Australians.
The Gazette tried to contact case officer Maj Prathung Pholmana of the Patong Police, but were told that under a new policy set by Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok, only the superintendent was allowed to release information to the media.
Kathu Police Deputy Superintendent Lt Col Kittipong Klaikaew confirmed this, saying the new media blackout policy was recently issued due to the fact that media too often publish false information.
“When the media publish false or misleading information, it makes our work more difficult and sullies the image of our province,” he said.
Both Thalang and Chalong Police also declined to release information to Gazette reporters today, citing the same policy.
The Gazette was eventually able to contact new Patong Police Superintendent Jirapat Phochanaphan, who took up the position in mid-June. He confirmed that such an attack did take place, and that the perpetrator had already been arrested.
“There was one Australian woman walking back to her hotel in Patong. She was drunk at that time, but was still able to make her way back on foot,” he said.
“[As she approached the hotel] a man parked his vehicle in front of the hotel and got out. He then tried to grab her and pull her into his car. She tried to resist him and screamed for help,” he said.
“Suddenly, a nearby Japanese man came to her rescue. He suffered minor injuries during the rescue, but I can’t confirm the exact nature of his wounds,” Col Jirapat said.
“Though I can’t release any more details about the case, I am happy to say that we have already arrested the man who attempted to abduct the woman. He is originally from Nakhon Sri Thammarat province.”
“We are now investigating his background, but have yet to question the Australian woman; that is why we can’t give out any other information,” he said.
CORRECTION: The original version of this news story stated in the third paragraph that the web media report said the Australian woman was “drunken” and was “walking in front of her hotel” when the attack occurred. The web report did not assert those facts. Patong Police Superintendent Jirapat Phochanaphan did, as reported further down in our story above. The misreporting was not intentional and is regretted.
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