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Phuket Corruption: Senate probes alleged police protection racket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: A senate subcommittee on police graft and corruption is in Phuket investigating allegations of an alleged police protection racket targeting tailor shops in Phuket’s Kata-Karon area.

Subcommittee chairman Pol Gen Jongrak Juthanon said the investigation follows complaints made by people in Kata-Karon that tailor shops and other retail businesses that employ ethnic Nepalis are forced to hand over 2,000 baht per person for the police to ‘look the other way’.

Ethnic Nepalis make up the bulk of the so-called “tailor touts” who approach and annoy foreign tourists in popular resort areas like Patong and Kata-Karon.

Although some of the Nepalis have work permits allowing them to work in some trades, sales work is restricted to Thai nationals under labor law.

“Now we have collected about 80% of the required information from both the accusers and the accused, and we will probably wrap up the investigation in about two weeks. Then we will present our findings to the Senate in order for the government to find a solution.

“I can promise we are conducting our probe in a way that is fair for both sides,” Gen Jongrak said.

The alleged protection racket is the only complaint of its type that his panel has received from Phuket, but it is one that has generated a large number of complaints by people claiming losses, he added.

One of those filing a complaint was Karon Tambon Chief Winai Chidchiew.

The call for justice at the national level was needed because previous efforts to stop people from collecting bribes from business owners who hire ethnic Nepalis had failed, Mr Winai said.

One of the tailors who gave testimony said he was required to pay 2,000 baht a month per employee to a ‘bag man’ for police protection, but that he had no way of knowing if the money was ever actually delivered to the police.

Either way, the collection of protection fees is improper, he said.

The Phuket Gazette has received many reports of similar rackets operating on the island over the years. In October 2007, Pakistani restaurant owner Marmoon Butt was stabbed repeatedly by a fellow Pakistani after he failed to pay a protection fee for his business in Patong.

Although “tailor touts” are a common source of recurring complaints made by tourists, and despite the fact that the touts number in the thousands and are highly visible, there have been few, if any, crackdowns on them in Phuket.

Because they are deemed to have superior English-language skills, ethnic Nepalis from Burma, Vietnamese and other foreign nationals make up a large portion of the staff involved in the sale of counterfeit goods in places like Patong and Kata-Karon.

Operators of such businesses in Phuket are currently waiting to see how the recent installation of Gen Priewpan Damapong as the new national police chief will affect them.

The naming of a new national police chief in Thailand is traditionally followed by a number of high-profile police “crackdowns”… which then fade away, allowing decades-old systems to resume business as usual.

UPDATE: Phuket Immigration Police Superintendent Panuwat Ruamrak told the Gazette yesterday that his office had not been contacted by the investigation team and that he had no comment on the matter. [added September 6, 2011]

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

Phuket

Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: ประชาสัมพันธ์ เทศบาลตำบลวิชิต

Hundreds of residents in Phuket’s Wichit subdistrict attended a workshop focused on reducing stress from to the pandemic-induced economic crisis. A psychologist was even on site to help those who had extreme mental stress and a Buddhist monk taught meditation techniques to reduce physiological effects of stress.

The event was planned in response to an online survey conducted by the municipality asking residents about how much stress they were experiencing from the economic climate. They found that some residents had serious stress issues brought on by the pandemic and financial problems, according to Wichit Mayor Kreetha Chotiwichphiphat.

“The loss of income due to the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 situation has resulted in some people in the area suffering serious stress, which can lead to serious mental health issues.”

Around 350 people attended the event. The mayor says it was the first step in caring for the residents’ mental health. Local officials plan to hold similar workshops in the future.

“It was a good opportunity for people to realise the importance of mental health and to learn techniques of how to deal with stress, which will help people to maintain their physical health and avoid developing mental health problems.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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