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Phuket

Kota Bahru visa run “still safe’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Kota Bahru visa run “still safe’ | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Despite continuing violence in the south of Thailand, the visa officer at the Thai Consulate in Kota Bahru, Malaysia, insists that the security situation along the border is still calm and that many foreigners continue to arrive each day to renew visas. Kota Bahru is the Thai consulate closest to Phuket, and one of a few in the region that has consistently issued six-month double-entry non-immigrant B visas, required by people who wish to work in Thaland. Tour companies offer “visa trips” that involve being away from Thailand for just a few hours. The three southern Thai provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala have undergone sporadic violence this week, mostly in attacks on local authorities. An estimated 20 attackers poured gunfire into a police station in Betong, Yala, last night. No one was reported hurt in the 15-minute battle. Pavinee Yuwaphan, Visa Officer at the Thai Consulate in Kota Bahru, told the Gazette today that security in Narathiwat and on the border was very tight now and tourists could feel safe. “We still have a lot of people coming to see us every day,” she said. “I am not worried. We have soldiers on guard around the border area and in each of the problem provinces. Security checks at the Thai border are very strict.” However, she added that anyone still concerned about security “can go to renew visas [at the Thai consulate] in Penang which is also issuing six-month Non-immigrant visas,” K. Pavinee added. In Penang, however, an official at the Thai consulate said that six-month non-immigrant visas were not automatic. “It depends on the documents the applicant provides,” the official said, adding, on the bright side, that one-year Non-immigrant B visas were available provided the paperwork is in order A Penang-based Gazette source with connections in the consulate said that, to his knowledge, one-year multiple-entry B visas could be obbtained by anyone holding a current Thai work permit. Pol Capt Krissarat Nuesen of the Phuket Immigration Office said, “You can go to any country you wish [in order to get a non-immigrant visa] but the validity of the visa depends on the discretionary authority of each consulate, which in turn depends on how much authority the consulate is given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” Meanwhile, the tourism industry in Phuket is naturally worried about the effect the violence in the South will have on business. Phuket Tourist Association President Pattanapong Aikwanich, told the Gazette that he felt the role of the press was “most important” when it came to covering this sensitive topic. “I think we should act strongly to provide the information to the public about what is happening in the three provinces [in the South]. “The Thai government and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, as reliable sources, should clarify the actual situation [to make sure people understand] that [the violence] is not related to international terrorists – this is well known and can be proven,” he said. “The Thai government should work with the foreign media, such as CNN, to let them know the real situation. The government should take [the press] to the area and let them to see what is really happening.” He added, “Early next month, there will be a ministerial conference of seven countries in this region focusing mainly on economic and tourism topics. The current situation means that we will also have to discuss security.” Lt Cdr Boonchart Prompoon, Director of the Airports Authority of Thailand, Phuket, said today that there are no flights to Phuket from Narathiwat, Yala or Pattani, so there has been no effect on the number of arrivals. “Anyway,” he added, “we continue to be very strict about the security of every flight. We also check runways, and we work closely with local authorities to exchange information.” A source at South Siam Travel Services, who asked not to be named, confirmed that in-bound reservations are holding up and that there have not been any cancelations nor, indeed, any worried queries. “The tour groups are coming here without asking about the circumstance in the three southern provinces,” the source said.

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Patong

Daytime closure looms for Patong beach road

May Taylor

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Daytime closure looms for Patong beach road | The Thaiger

The mayor of Patong, Chalermluck Kebsup, has announced that from August 25, Thaweewong Road, better known as the Patong beach road, will be closed during the day while power and communication cables are installed.

Apologising for the inconvenience, Mayor Chalermluck explains that the closures will be between 6.00am and 4.00pm and expected to last until September 30. She says the work will take place during low season and will be paused for the busy high season.

A 400 metre section of road will be affected, from Bangla Road to Sawatdirak Road, with vehicles prohibited from accessing the area until 4.00pm. However, the restriction does not apply to pedestrians, with footpaths remaining open.

The Thaiger understands that certain vehicles will still be granted access, including those of business owners who need to reach their premises. Such vehicles will need to have permission granted by Patong Municipality. Taxis and tuk-tuks dropping off or picking up customers at these businesses will also be given access.

In total, the 228 million baht joint venture project will see the installation of communications cables, power lines and fibre-optic mains, along a 3 kilometre stretch of the beach road.

It has a completion date of March 5, 2020.

SOURCE: Provincial Electricity Authority

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Phuket

Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit

Tanutam Thawan

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Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit | The Thaiger

VIDEO & SCREENGRAB: M Today

The Palang Pracharath member of parliament from Bangkok, Sira Jenjaka, had an argument with Lt Col Pratuang Polmana, Deputy Superintendent of Karon Police during his inspection to the controversial Peak Condominium in the Karon area of Phuket.

MP Sira was surveying the construction site of the project and the sales office, which also serves as a coffee shop, where he saw Lt Col Pratuang inside.

He stopped there and asked why the Deputy Superintendent didn’t send any officer from Karon Police Station to provide security for him, a standard protocol when parliament members visit a specific area.

The MP had publicly stated he had received death threats for revealing ‘problems’ with the ‘paperwork’ for the Phuket condo project that he claims has been built on land without the proper documentation.

Lt Col Pratuang said that he already prepared a team of officers to provide security for the MP but they were waiting for a confirmation. Then the MP asked his team to record a video of the conversation and said that, while he was not threatening anyone, he believed the police must respect and offer protection for a government MP who comes to work in the area, which was then followed by an argument.

There was a “middleman” who eventually separated the Deputy Superintendent and pulled him aside to calm him down. The ‘police whisperer’ then came back to apologise to the MP before they went inside the coffee shop for further private talks.

Read the original article about the allegations against Peak Condominiums in Karon HERE.

Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit | News by The Thaiger

The Peak Condominiums in Karon, currently under investigation after allegations made by Government MP Sira Jenjaka, who claims death threats have been made against him over the matter.

 

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Patong

How to be charged 2,600 baht for having a flat battery in the Jungceylon car park

Tim Newton

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How to be charged 2,600 baht for having a flat battery in the Jungceylon car park | The Thaiger

A rant…

Started off with trying to exit the Jungceylon carpark in Patong, Phuket, late on a Sunday night. After watching a film in their tawdry cinemas, I was assured by ticket sales staff that I should present my ticket stub with the car park card for free exit.

Getting to the exit gate and I was told I had to go to an ‘elevator’ to get my ticket stamped. As there were already three other cars behind me (it was around 9.30pm at this stage), it caused quite a kerfuffle and tempers (mine included) were starting to fray.

The poor woman at the exit booth (whose key work skill must be ‘patience’), kept yelling ‘elevator, elevator’, doing little to inform us what we were actually meant to do. (I wanted to leave a car park, not go on an elevator?!?).

Anyway, minor ‘misunderstanding’ sorted out soon enough, and returned to my car to exit the car park (about 10 minutes later).

A Russian man had had his own adventures with the Jungceylon car park the night before. Firstly he was stuck there on the Saturday night with a flat battery in his white sedan. As it was very late, and wanting to get home, he left the car in the space and took a taxi.

As I was sorting out my own car park ‘misunderstanding’, other car park staff assisted him with his flat battery by jump starting his car. The assisting staff were given a gratuity, I don’t know how much.

But on reaching the exit gate he was told he had to pay 1,800 baht. (Presumably for around 24 hours of car parking).

With his fist full of receipts, around 3,300 baht worth, he was also told ‘elevator, elevator’. He got out of his car, there were another three cars backed up behind him at this stage, and went to find the ‘elevator’. Upon returning he was now told he had to pay 2,600 baht! How the amount had magically inflated to 2,600 baht remains a mystery but the cark park ‘gatekeeper’ was not to be messed with.

By this stage about eight young Thai gentlemen, with name tags, keys hanging from their belts and hand-held radios, had turned up to ‘assist’ in addressing my complaints and ensuring that the Russian man was not able to leave the car park before paying the 2,600 baht. The only common language among the Russians and the Thais in the situation was English and it was not going well.

Google Translate was getting a fine workout but wasn’t really helping.

During the extended ‘negotiations’ the cars behind were detoured around and allowed free exit.

Given the man’s travails in having a flat battery, having to come back to the steamy car park late on a Sunday night, the cars piling up behind him and the loss of face for just about everyone at this stage, the ‘smart’, good PR thing to do would have been to thank him for spending 3,300 baht at their expensive shopping centre, lifted the boom gate and waved him on his way.

But no, these young Thai car park staff wanted their pound of flesh and there was no way in the world that barrier was going to be lifted until the man had paid every baht he ‘owed’. Three police turned up to try and sort things out but all departed in exasperation, knowing the car park staff were being pig-headed but unable to intervene because they would have caused their fellow Thais a loss of face.

At this stage the Thai car park staff were already starting to utter things under their breath and spitting out ‘farang’ in their deliberations.

During the entire two hour drama many other cars had the same issue of not understanding that they needed to report to the bottom of one of the ‘elevators’ to have their receipts stamped. There didn’t appear to be any signage or understanding of the procedure (until, of course, you go through this rather drawn out lesson in Jungceylon car park procedure). There was a sign outside the elusive ‘elevator’ but given there are seven other exits from the car park you’re unlikely to see them.

Apart from Jungceylon losing the patronage of at least two, or more, customers over their overly-officious and unprofessional behaviour, the system will surely remain unfixed waiting for the next stupid ‘farang’ to stroll innocently into the underground farrago.

The only bright light in the dingy car park fiasco was the pleasant young gentlemen sitting at the ‘elevator’ with his stamps and gracious smile, wearing full eye make up and blissfully unaware of the surly car park Nazis. He profusely apologised but I am fairly sure he was none-the-wiser about my lengthy explanation of the situation.

Give the man a pay rise!

For Jungceylon, I would urge better signage, in a few languages (it IS a tourist town), to inform us about their rather opaque car park procedures.

I did ask for a statement to include in this story from some of the ‘people with hand radios’ or a comment from the Manager. But there was none forthcoming. Our forum remains wide open for a response from management.

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