KARON, PHUKET: Citing dereliction of duty and a surge in crime, more than 200 residents of Karon on Monday rallied to call for the transfer of Chalong Police Superintendent Chinnarat Rittakananond.
The protest, held in a field at Karon Temple starting at 1pm, was led by tambon chief Winai Chitchiew.
Also taking part was Karon Mayor Tawee Tongcham.
Mr Winai called for the transfer of Col Chinnarat, saying that Chalong Police have been unable or unwilling to take steps to crack down on crimes including home break-ins, muggings and a variety of other thefts targeted at both tourists and residents.
Today Mr Winai told the Gazette: “The Chalong Police have failed in their duty to provide security for the people of Tambon Karon. They are still too busy with silly traffic-related tasks such as setting up road checkpoints to catch riders without helmets or licenses.”
Both Thais and foreigners are always complaining about this and other activities officers are engaged in during their free time, Mr Winai said.
“The way the police operate here shows they are more interested in collecting fines from motorists than keeping this tambon safe,” he said.
Mr Winai said officers assigned to Karon had also failed to establish productive relationships with local leaders including village headmen and the abbot of Wat Karon, who allowed the protesters to rally at a field on the temple’s grounds.
Without such contacts, police lacked a network to fight drug trafficking and other criminal activities in Karon, he said.
Given the large area Chalong Police District covers, establishing such a network is an essential component in the fight against crime, he said.
Chalong Police District covers not only tambon Chalong but the entire south and southwest of the island, extending north from Rawai up through Kata-Karon all the way to the border with Kathu District, near the Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort.
Col Chinnarat, who has also served as superintendent of Thalang Police, eventually addressed the crowd and asked for patience, saying the economic downturn and chronic under-staffing were major factors in the upsurge in crime.
At this, the protesters promised to give police 15 days to improve performance and bring about a decrease in crime, Mr Winai said.
If such an improvement is not forthcoming, larger rallies might have to take place in front of Phuket Provincial Police Headquarters in Phuket City, he added.
Asked about announced plans to establish an independent police district for Karon, Mr Winai said he hadn’t heard of any progress – even though land for the station has already been donated by the private sector.
“Building a new police station in Karon won’t solve people’s problems. That can only be accomplished if the police change their ways and start to serve the public interest,” he said.
— Kamol Pirat
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