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Phuket’s first “Safety Zone’ set up in Patong

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket’s first “Safety Zone’ set up in Patong | The Thaiger

PHUKET: In the wake of several high-profile violent crimes that have rocked Phuket over the past few months, Phuket Police are moving ahead with their plan to set up “safety zones” in key tourist areas, starting with Patong.

Phuket Provincial Police Commander Chonasit Wattanavrangkul delivered the news to more than 800 people from different walks of life in Patong, all gathered at the Phuket Graceland Resort & Spa on July 21. Among those present were representatives from taxi groups, hotel businesses, jet-ski operators and beach umbrella operators.

Joining Maj Gen Chonasit in announcing the plan were Patong Mayor Pian Keesin and the superintendents from every police station in Phuket.

“We are setting up a safety zone in Patong first, and then in Kata-Karon,” Gen Chonasit said, describing safety zones as “zero crime areas”.

The general also laid out his six-point plan in the fight against street crime: “To ensure tourists are confident they are safe in Phuket, we will: 1) set safety zones; 2) be stricter in law enforcement; 3) have more police checkpoints; 4) have more police patrols; 5) use new technology; and 6) work with local people to prevent crimes from happening,” he explained.

The Patong Safety Zone will be bordered by north-south roads Thaweewong Road (the beach road) and Phang Muang Sai Kor Road, and east-west roads Phra Barami Road and Prachanukhro Road.

A total of 100 officers from the Patong Police, Tourist Police, Marine Police and Patong Municipality will patrol the streets and man checkpoints set up throughout the Safety Zone, Gen Chonasit said.

Twelve officers will patrol six small zones each shift, meaning that at any time of the day officers will be able to respond to any incident in their patrol area within minutes, he added.

Separate teams of officers will also patrol the three main roads into Patong: from Patong Temple to the Chinese Shrine atop Patong Hill; from the Laem Petch Circle to the Thavorn Beach Villa & Spa in Kalim; and Sirirat Road, leading to Karon, further south.

Checkpoints will be set up in front of Wat Suwankiriwong (Patong Temple), Kalim Junction (Laem Petch Circle) and at the four-way intersection at Sirirat Road.

“Police will also regularly patrol areas where troublemakers, such as youth gangs and known drug offenders, are known to hang out,” Gen Chonasit said.

SPOT CHECKS

Anyone stopped by officers on patrol are likely to be subjected to a spot check made possible by two mobile ID card reading devices provided by the Phuket Provincial Office.

“The police will know instantly whether or not the people they are checking are wanted on outstanding arrest warrants,” said the general.

There are more than 3,000 arrest warrants still outstanding for crimes committed in Phuket, he explained.

“Most of them are for robberies, but some are for drug crimes and some are for more serious crimes,” he said.

“We also expect more machines to be provided to the police in the future,” he added.

COMMUNITY

Gen Chonasit rated cooperation with local people and business owners as the most important factor in making the project a success.

He explained that police manpower in Phuket was limited, with one policeman per 7,000 people on the island.

“It’s really hard work so police need cooperation from local people,” said one officer.

Police plan to regularly visit communities and discuss problems with local people to try to solve the problems specific to each community.

“I will make Phuket Police serve the people as best they can,” Gen Chonasit said.

THE EYES HAVE IT

A critical contribution to the security effort will be using the public as a collective resource to monitor footage captured by CCTV cameras installed throughout Patong.

“The CCTV monitoring room is still being set up, but we hope to have the system up and running by the end of this month,” Patong Police Superintendent Jirapat Phochanaphan told the Gazette.

Once the system is in operation, anyone will be able to log in and view live CCTV footage through their computers, iPads, tablets and even mobile phones.

“People will need to contact Patong Police Station first to set up a log-in account and password, but after that they will be able to monitor the CCTV footage via their phones from anywhere,” Gen Chonasit explained.

“We want people to help us prevent crime. It would help us a lot, with many people watching CCTV cameras instead of only two police officers watching the monitors.

“We will ask organizations – both private and government – to help fund the costs of installing CCTV cameras in appropriate places. Business operators such as hotels can help us by installing good-quality CCTV cameras in front of their hotels so we can monitor the roads,” he added.

Local Patong businessman Preechavude “Prab” Keesin, who is the son of Patong Mayor Pian Keesin and head of the largest taxi driver association in Patong, said he asked operators of entertainment venues along Phang Muang Sai Kor Road to install a total of 20 CCTV cameras to set up a network that will cost 400,000 baht in total.

By sharing the cost, the bar owners could afford to set up the system. “Some local business owners helped by donating a few thousand baht each, or paying for the installation, which helped reduce the cost for the bar owners,” he said.

Using his mobile phone, Mr Prab showed Gen Chonasit live images from the CCTV cameras already installed and working.

Mr Prab explained that all 20 cameras had been installed two weeks earlier, with 12 already streaming live video and the other eight expected to be up and running within a week.

THE PAYOFF

Gen Chonasit explained plainly that ensuring the personal safety of tourists was a top priority for the government.

“The government plans to boost the number of tourists coming to Thailand with the goal of earning 2 trillion baht in tourism in the year 2015 alone. Phuket made 111 billion baht last year, so Phuket is expected to earn 222bn baht in 2015.

“However, the most important part of this is local people cooperating to provide security to tourists who really need it during their travels,” he said.

“The Safety Zones will be in place until 2015. After then, we will follow up and evaluate how effective they have been.”

In closing the meeting, Gen Chonasit and Patong Police Superintendent Col Jiraphat each donated 100,000 baht to the project.

— Atchaa Khamlo

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2 | The Thaiger

In today’s Thailand News Today…. The island of Phuket has a firm plan to get its residents vaccinated leading up to an October opening for tourists, the Thai PM backs up his police over last Sunday’s protest violence and Thai Airway’s employee union criticises the changes to employee contracts.

But the plan must be approved by the national government by April, if the province wants to open tourism by October 1. Phuket has a resident population of around 300- 400,000 people.

Before you go rushing off to book your plane tickets we’d stress that this is another in a long list of proposals that have not come to fruition and we’d urge patience until the Government approves the plans.

Meanwhile the island has taken delivery of 4,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine. Vaccinations started yesterday, with priority given to 1,500 healthcare workers and 500 “at-risk” officials exposed to Covid-19 patients.

On a broader note… Thailand’s Tourism Minister says he has asked the Public Health Ministry to approve a vaccine passport scheme aimed at reviving Thailand’s devastated tourism sector. According to the Minister, the government is looking to the World Health Organisation to issue a statement on vaccine passports before it makes a final decision on the matter.

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended police action against protesters taking part in Sunday’s anti-government rally in Bangkok. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau used tear gas, a water cannon and rubber bullets in an effort to drive protesters back from the PM’s residence. The PM insists the actions were in line with international standards. He says that police did not violate the protesters’ rights.

Thai researchers are claiming that horseshoe bats are not responsible for transmitting the Covid virus to humans. A researcher with the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases-Health Science Centre, says that even though the bats have tested positive for a coronavirus, it is not the strain that is transmissible to humans, and it’s certainly not the virus that causes Covid-19.

As Thai Airways tries to sell new contracts and conditions to its remaining workforce, the labour union of the national carrier is challenging changes to the employment contracts, where Thai Airways employees are being asked to agree to changes as part of the bigger financial rehabilitation program.

But a union representative says the new contracts are unfair because it includes fewer leave days and shorter holidays. The union has filed a complaint with the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare.

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Phuket

Police investigate reports of women’s underwear stolen from Phuket homes

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police investigate reports of women’s underwear stolen from Phuket homes | The Thaiger
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Police in Phuket are looking for a suspect who residents say has been stealing women’s underwear. Surveillance camera footage from a resident’s home shows a teenager driving through a neighbourhood, then stopping and stealing ladies panties that were hanging up to dry.

One resident told Phuket News that numerous residents in Thalang’s Baan Lipon area have reported missing underwear.

“Recently neighbors have been reporting that many items of their underwear have been stolen. Many residents are worried about the man hovering around here trying to steal underwear.”

A man told the Phuket News that his wife’s underwear was stolen and he’s now worried about his family’s safety. Another resident says he’s also concerned.

“As a resident in this area, I am worried about the safety of the local residents. Underwear has been stolen, something else could happen as well.”

In a similar case back in October, a 46 year old man was arrested for allegedly breaking into homes in Ratchaburi and stealing women’s underwear. Police says they seized 70 pairs of panties.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Tourism

Phuket pushes to open doors to vaccinated international tourists by October

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Phuket pushes to open doors to vaccinated international tourists by October | The Thaiger

Phuket is set to open its doors to vaccinated, international tourists by October, pending the government’s approval. The local government’s initiative, named Phuket First October, proposes vaccinating a majority of its population over 18 years of age in time for the high season. The move would allow thousands of vaccinated Europeans to enter Thailand, while locals would be protected from the virus symptoms.

Protecting the locals would include achieving herd immunity in time for reopening the province, which would need 70% of the population to be vaccinated. The local government’s goal would not wait for the government to roll out vaccines, and instead, use its own resources to vaccinate the public. Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association told the Thai Enquirer over the phone, that they won’t stop pushing for ways to help the tourist destination survive.

“I think there must be a solution that balances controlling the outbreak and stimulating the economy.”

The island is also looking to waive the 14 day quarantine, with PM Prayut recently changing his stance by announcing that a quarantine waiver is being considered for those vaccinated tourists.

But the plan must be approved by the national government by April, if the province wants to open tourism by October 1. Initial research shows that around 250,000 citizens per month must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

Initially, the province’s request was denied by the federal government, but business leaders are not giving up hope. Recently, they submitted a petition to PM Prayut to appeal the denial citing lack of income, mounting debts and increasing financial disputes due to over eight months without international or domestic flights.

The second wave has also plummeted tourism even lower than before, as the industry has seen a 93% drop in visitors since the same time last year.

Phuket has already kicked off its vaccine rollout as of yesterday, after receiving a delivery of 4,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac jab. Priority is being given to 1,500 healthcare workers and 500 “at-risk” officials that have been exposed to Covid-19 patients.

SOURCE: Thai Enquirer

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