Phuket 100pc safe – police chief

PHUKET: The island’s highest-ranking police officer gave his assurances today that there is no possibility of the recent violence in the Deep South spreading north to Phuket.

The violence, said Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Suvith Othong, remains confined to the three troubled southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

He said it was “impossible” for an event similar to the recent tragedy that occured in Narathiwat’s Tak Bai District to occur in Phuket because the area of conflict is almost 500 kilometers away.

“There are no known linkages between the Muslim seperatist elements there and Phuket’s Muslim community,” he said. “Phuket is 100% safe from the violence.”

He added, however, that Phuket police were constantly reviewing the security situation and continually collect intelligence about activities that might be related to unrest in the Deep South.

“Although many people visit Phuket, they just come here for tourism – not terrorism. We already have security measures in place, but we do not need to publicize [the details] because we don’t want to scare people who might not know the real [secure] situation,” he said.

“What would be the aim of terrorists in Phuket?” he asked rhetorically. “Terrorists need to work in extensive networks, but Muslim communities vary from area to area in the South. I don’t believe there are any networks or individuals linked with the violence in the [Deep] south here.”

He added that he had spoken with local Imams and had received good cooperation from local Muslim communities. He also pointed to the non-violent nature of the recent protests in Phuket [over the early closing of entertainment venues] as evidence of the peaceful state of affairs here.

Manoch Panchalad, Secretary of the Phuket Islamic Committee, told the Gazette that local Muslim people have been deeply moved by the situation at Tak Bai, where 84 protesters died in recent clashes with police and army – 78 after they had already been taken into custody.

“The problem should be over,” K. Manoch said. “Can’t the government solve this problem? Muslim people in Phuket are concerned, but we won’t take any action. We just hope that the situation will improve soon.

“We are Thai and live in the same country, Thailand. Muslims in Phuket help by looking after each other. We keep an eye on visitors to see what their intentions are, because Phuket is a tourist destination.

“We live in peace and honor the difference in beliefs. This month [Ramadan] is also a wonderful time for Muslims. We remain patient and Islam teaches us to remain at peace,” he said.

Phuket News
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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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