PHUKET TOWN: Investigators from the Tourist Police and the Phuket Provincial Employment Service Office (ESO) spent this afternoon at the offices of the Phuket Gazette, probing into an allegation that the newspaper employs numerous foreigners without work permits. The allegation was made in a letter to the Tourist Police signed by “Jobless Graduate”. The writer complained that he or she had applied for a position at the Gazette but had been rejected because “they would employ only foreigners”. The letter added, “I was told by someone that many foreigners working for the Gazette have no work permits.” The anonymous writer concluded, “Please don’t let foreigners take advantage of Thai people by doing such things.” Wassana Thongsakul, Assistant Chief Officer of the Phuket ESO, and Pol Maj Wichai Boonreun of the Tourist Police, spent two and a half hours reviewing documents supplied by the Gazette to show that its staff consists of 18 Thais and just four foreigners, all of whom have valid work permits. Khun Wassana, who arrived trailed by newspaper and television reporters, said, “The complaint was referred to us by the Tourist Police. When we receive a complaint, we have to follow it up. The investigation will take another week or so.” Managing Editor Alasdair Forbes said, “I do not believe this was a genuine complaint. As we demonstrated to the investigators, it is simply not true that we employ only foreigners. Thais are essential to our operation. We could not produce a newspaper without them.” Rungtip Hongjakpet, the Gazette’s Managing Director, said she was pleased that the investigators had done a thorough job of checking the company’s records. “This has given us a chance to demonstrate beyond doubt that the Gazette operates strictly according to the law.”
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