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MOTORBIKES: Let’s get honest with tourists

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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MOTORBIKES: Let’s get honest with tourists | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Apart from the obvious need to fit all taxis and tuk-tuks on the island with meters, another pressing topic emerged during this month’s meeting between Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop and Phuket’s 16 honorary consuls: the need to give foreign tourists a better chance of returning home alive should they insist on renting a motorbike.

Casualty figures alone justify the need to keep inexperienced, unlicensed and often inebriated bikers off Phuket’s roads. In a single day last week, six people perished in motorbike accidents on the island, most of them still in their youth. [See front page story, current issue of the Gazette. Digital subscribers click here.]

According to police statistics for January, 18 people died in Phuket in 362 accidents, 219 of them involving motorbikes. There were also 321 people injured and property damages estimated at over 2.1 million baht.

Nurses in the West refer to the two-wheeled conveyances not as motorcycles but as ‘donorcycles’ because so many of the dead are young, healthy people killed instantly from head trauma, making them perfect candidates for organ donation.

As in so many other areas regarding tourist safety in Phuket, an instant improvement could be realized by simply enforcing existing laws. Anyone operating a motorbike in Thailand is legally required to hold a valid Thai motorcycle license. Yet this law is seldom enforced – and when it is, the riders simply pay a ‘fine’ before driving off.

Scores of motorbike rental companies in Phuket rent out bikes to anyone foolish enough to turn over his or her passport as surety. Most of these outfits, including some run by policemen, fail to mention to tourists the requirement for a Thai license. Some, when asked, deny outright that such a requirement exists. Imagine, then, the disgust of a tourist stopped at a checkpoint and having neither the license nor the requisite passport.  

Things get considerably worse for foreign visitors caught up in an accident, the blame for which is more often than not attributed to them.

The rental companies are also happy to rent out motorbikes to Thais, provided they hand over a Thai ID card. At as little as 150 baht a day, rental bikes are the vehicles of choice among criminals, who use them to carry out a range of crimes from murder to snatch-and-run operations.

As it is unlikely that the police will ever crack down on companies that hold riders’ passports or rent out bikes to people without Thai licenses, perhaps the law should be changed to allow foreign motorbike riders to ride legally in Thailand on a foreign motorcycle license. This might at least afford some increase in the odds of the driver having the ability to operate a motorbike and basic knowledge of the risks.   

An even better approach to keeping foreign tourists off motorbikes would be to provide them with the kind of safe, reasonably priced transport options so abundant in Thailand’s 75 other provinces.



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Phuket

Police searching for the killer after shooting near Saphan Hin

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Police searching for the killer after shooting near Saphan Hin | The Thaiger

A Thai man has been shot dead near Saphan Hin in eastern Phuket earlier today. The arrest warrant has already been issued for the suspect.

The Wichit Police were notified of the incident on Rattanakosin 200 pi Road near Saphan Hin at 3.40am this morning.

Police and rescue workers arrived to find the body of 30 year old Teerasak Saeong from Phuket covered with blood and laying on the road. Two bullet wounds were found on his right and left temple.

Seven bullets were also found around Mr Teerasak’s body. Nearby they found a motorbike. His body was taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital for full autopsy and identification.

Witnesses told police that Mr Teerasak was stopped on his motorbike and was talking with the suspect who was in a black car. The suspect shot at Mr Teerasak and sped away.

Mr Teerasak was the son of a member of Rassada’s Municipal Council. At this stage police believe that the two had personal conflicts. Police are now searching for the driver of the vehicle who shot Mr Teerasak.

Police searching for the killer after shooting near Saphan Hin | News by The Thaiger Police searching for the killer after shooting near Saphan Hin | News by The Thaiger Police searching for the killer after shooting near Saphan Hin | News by The Thaiger

 

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Phuket

Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident | The Thaiger

A male Danish tourist, driving a motorbike, has died after colliding with a truck in front of a market in Kathu.

The Kathu Police were notified of the incident on Phra Phuket Keaw Road in front of the new outdoor Vintage Market in Kathu at 3am yesterday morning.

Police and Kusoldharm rescue workers arrived at the U-turn to find the truck and driver waiting. The driver of the truck was 36 year old Sontaya Suchata waiting in the middle of the U-turn area.

Nearby they found a damaged Honda PCX and 51 year old Claus Pathuel Jensen, a Danish national from Glostrup. He was found unconscious under the truck. He was rushed to Vachira Phuket Hospital but was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Police report that the truck was going to take a U-turn outside the market area. The truck driver says he was unaware that Mr Jensen was coming from behind in the right lane. The motorbike was unable to avoid the collision with the truck and Mr Jensen PCX ploughed into the rear of the vehicle.

Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident | News by The Thaiger Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident | News by The Thaiger Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident | News by The Thaiger Danish tourist dies in Phuket road accident | News by The Thaiger

 

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Phuket

Australian woman deported for overstaying visa by over 100 days

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Australian woman deported for overstaying visa by over 100 days | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Facebook/Claire Johnson

An Australian woman, who was caught overstaying her visa by 111 days, will be released from detention and deported by Thai authorities tonight.

She came to the media’s attention on Monday after sending urgent messages to a friend saying that she was being taken to a detention centre and that “they are taking my phone”.

46 year old Claire Amelia Johnson is an Australian Gold Coast resident. She will depart Bangkok on a QANTAS flight scheduled to arrive in Sydney tomorrow (Friday) morning.

She was due to return to Australia more than a week ago but on Monday evening sent messages to her friend Juliet Potter and told her that she was in an immigration detention centre in Bangkok and begged her to please “help me”.

Read The Thaiger story about her desperate pleas HERE.

Ms Johnson had been running a medical tourism business called Cosmetic Holidays International that offered cosmetic packages in Phuket”.

The business was voluntarily deregistered with the Australian Securities Commission in May 2017, after five years of operation, but her social media accounts continued to promote her cosmetic-surgery tourism business.

Thailand’s immigration chief, Surachate Hakparn, told Australia’s Fairfax media that Ms Johnson had been arrested, as well as fined, and would be deported after overstaying her tourist visa by more than 100 days.

“My Immigration Department will send her to Australia. She leaves tonight.”

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would say only that it was “providing consular assistance to an Australian woman detained in Thailand”, without naming Claire.

Australian woman deported for overstaying visa by over 100 days | News by The Thaiger

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