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Police confiscate more 100 vehicles from drunk drivers in Songkran safety blitz

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Police confiscate more 100 vehicles from drunk drivers in Songkran safety blitz | The Thaiger

PHUKET: More than 100 drunk drivers in Phuket have had their vehicles confiscated by police in the first three days of the Songkran ‘Seven Days of Danger’ road-safety campaign.

Impounding vehicles driven by drunk drivers is part of the National Council for Peace and Order’s ‘No Drink Driving’ campaign during the Songkran holiday. It requires that officers hold vehicles seized from drunk drivers until the end of the campaign on April 17.

Officers confiscated vehicles from 59 drunk drivers yesterday, bringing the three-day tally up to 107 impounded vehicles.

Six of the drivers who had their vehicles confiscated were foreigners, who, in addition to driving under the influence, were not wearing helmets, confirmed an officer from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Phuket Office.

Updated Phuket statistics issued by the DDPM for traffic offences during the first three days of the campaign are as follows:

– Riding a motorbike without wearing a helmet – 2,182 people
– Riding an unsafe motorbike – 10 people
– Driving under the influence of alcohol – 120 people
– Driver and/or passengers failing to use seat belts – 161 people
– Driving without [carrying] a valid driving license – 1076 people
– Speeding – 0 people
– Failing to stop at a red light – 31 people
– Driving on the wrong side (ghost-riding) – 38 people
– Overtaking in a restricted zone – 13 people
– Using a mobile phone while driving – 54 people

Although there have been no fatalities on Phuket’s roads since the safety campaign began on Monday, the DDPM has recorded 28 accidents and 34 injuries in the province.

“I am very pleased that the death toll on the roads remains at zero after three days,” said Sirisak Skoonsorutcha, chief of the DDPM Phuket Office. “Making it past April 13 with no deaths is very encouraging. We hope that his year we will meet our goal of zero road-deaths during the campaign.”

Other provinces, however, have not been so fortunate.

By the second day of the safety campaign, the number of road fatalities nationwide stood at 116, which is a 97-per-cent increase from the same period last year, the Road Safety Directing Center announced yesterday.

So far, there have been 907 road accidents nationwide, which injured 981 people, higher than last Songkran’s total of 723 accidents and 765 injuries.

Drunk driving and speeding were the two biggest factors leading to the road carnage, at about 33 and 35 per cent respectively, while 80 per cent of the accidents involved motorcycles, said Dr Sopon Mekthon, permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry.

Buri Ram Province recorded the highest number of fatalities at eight, followed by Prachin Buri with seven and Phichit with six. Chiang Mai has the highest number of casualties at 48, followed by Udon Thani at 37 and Phitsanulok and Lampang at 32 each.

Chiang Mai also has the highest number of accidents at 45 cases, followed by Udon Thani at 34 and Nakhon Si Thammarat with 32. So far, Samut Prakan is the only province that has not reported a road accident, while 23 provinces, including Phuket, have not reported any deaths from road accidents.

On Tuesday alone, there were 520 road accidents nationwide, killing 64 people and wounding 550 others, Dr Sopon said. Officials at 2,125 checkpoints arrested 104,484 law violators – most of whom were nabbed for not wearing a helmet or failing to present a driver’s licence.

As to whether the center would adjust its plans considering that the death rate has almost doubled, Dr Sopon insisted that the authority’s plans were perfectly fine.

DDPM Chief Chatchai Phromlert said that April 13 usually saw the highest number of deaths through road accidents every year. Since more than half of such deaths involved locals, he said the center has instructed provincial authorities to have local administrators warn motorists to be more careful and refrain from traffic-law violations.

Meanwhile, Col Narat Sawetanant, director-general of the Probation Department, yesterday said that his agency was coordinating with hospitals to have drunk drivers arrested during Songkran provide public service at hospitals and morgues. He said the court would order drunk-driving offenders to perform at least 48 hours of public service in these facilities.

He added that such public work would help the offenders become aware of the consequences their actions can have and also reduce drunk-driving-related accidents by 10-20 per cent.

A source said that the number of Songkran drunk drivers under probation was high and that Bangkok had the highest number of such parolees. In 2011, there were 6,032 drunk-driving offenders on probation nationwide, compared with 5,005 in 2012 and 4,691 in 2013. The number of cases dipped to 3,826 in 2014 and rose to 4,051 in 2015.

As for the agency’s moves to apply ‘social measures’ to punish probation-breaching individuals, Mr Narat said that his department was officially cooperating with two agencies on the initiative.

From December to February, the Land Transport Department, which screens driving licence applicants, found that 570 of the applicants were term-breaching parolees. The National Office of Buddhism found 108 parolees trying to be ordained as monks.

— Kongleaphy Keam



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Phuket

Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit

The Thaiger

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Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit | The Thaiger

VIDEO & SCREENGRAB: M Today

The Palang Pracharath member of parliament from Bangkok, Sira Jenjaka, had an argument with Lt Col Pratuang Polmana, Deputy Superintendent of Karon Police during his inspection to the controversial Peak Condominium in the Karon area of Phuket.

MP Sira was surveying the construction site of the project and the sales office, which also serves as a coffee shop, where he saw Lt Col Pratuang inside.

He stopped there and asked why the Deputy Superintendent didn’t send any officer from Karon Police Station to provide security for him, a standard protocol when parliament members visit a specific area.

The MP had publicly stated he had received death threats for revealing ‘problems’ with the ‘paperwork’ for the Phuket condo project that he claims has been built on land without the proper documentation.

Lt Col Pratuang said that he already prepared a team of officers to provide security for the MP but they were waiting for a confirmation. Then the MP asked his team to record a video of the conversation and said that, while he was not threatening anyone, he believed the police must respect and offer protection for a government MP who comes to work in the area, which was then followed by an argument.

There was a “middleman” who eventually separated the Deputy Superintendent and pulled him aside to calm him down. The ‘police whisperer’ then came back to apologise to the MP before they went inside the coffee shop for further private talks.

Read the original article about the allegations against Peak Condominiums in Karon HERE.

Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit | News by The Thaiger

The Peak Condominiums in Karon, currently under investigation after allegations made by Government MP Sira Jenjaka, who claims death threats have been made against him over the matter.

 

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Patong

How to be charged 2,600 baht for having a flat battery in the Jungceylon car park

Tim Newton

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How to be charged 2,600 baht for having a flat battery in the Jungceylon car park | The Thaiger

A rant…

Started off with trying to exit the Jungceylon carpark in Patong, Phuket, late on a Sunday night. After watching a film in their tawdry cinemas, I was assured by ticket sales staff that I should present my ticket stub with the car park card for free exit.

Getting to the exit gate and I was told I had to go to an ‘elevator’ to get my ticket stamped. As there were already three other cars behind me (it was around 9.30pm at this stage), it caused quite a kerfuffle and tempers (mine included) were starting to fray.

The poor woman at the exit booth (whose key work skill must be ‘patience’), kept yelling ‘elevator, elevator’, doing little to inform us what we were actually meant to do. (I wanted to leave a car park, not go on an elevator?!?).

Anyway, minor ‘misunderstanding’ sorted out soon enough, and returned to my car to exit the car park (about 10 minutes later).

A Russian man had had his own adventures with the Jungceylon car park the night before. Firstly he was stuck there on the Saturday night with a flat battery in his white sedan. As it was very late, and wanting to get home, he left the car in the space and took a taxi.

As I was sorting out my own car park ‘misunderstanding’, other car park staff assisted him with his flat battery by jump starting his car. The assisting staff were given a gratuity, I don’t know how much.

But on reaching the exit gate he was told he had to pay 1,800 baht. (Presumably for around 24 hours of car parking).

With his fist full of receipts, around 3,300 baht worth, he was also told ‘elevator, elevator’. He got out of his car, there were another three cars backed up behind him at this stage, and went to find the ‘elevator’. Upon returning he was now told he had to pay 2,600 baht! How the amount had magically inflated to 2,600 baht remains a mystery but the cark park ‘gatekeeper’ was not to be messed with.

By this stage about eight young Thai gentlemen, with name tags, keys hanging from their belts and hand-held radios, had turned up to ‘assist’ in addressing my complaints and ensuring that the Russian man was not able to leave the car park before paying the 2,600 baht. The only common language among the Russians and the Thais in the situation was English and it was not going well.

Google Translate was getting a fine workout but wasn’t really helping.

During the extended ‘negotiations’ the cars behind were detoured around and allowed free exit.

Given the man’s travails in having a flat battery, having to come back to the steamy car park late on a Sunday night, the cars piling up behind him and the loss of face for just about everyone at this stage, the ‘smart’, good PR thing to do would have been to thank him for spending 3,300 baht at their expensive shopping centre, lifted the boom gate and waved him on his way.

But no, these young Thai car park staff wanted their pound of flesh and there was no way in the world that barrier was going to be lifted until the man had paid every baht he ‘owed’. Three police turned up to try and sort things out but all departed in exasperation, knowing the car park staff were being pig-headed but unable to intervene because they would have caused their fellow Thais a loss of face.

At this stage the Thai car park staff were already starting to utter things under their breath and spitting out ‘farang’ in their deliberations.

During the entire two hour drama many other cars had the same issue of not understanding that they needed to report to the bottom of one of the ‘elevators’ to have their receipts stamped. There didn’t appear to be any signage or understanding of the procedure (until, of course, you go through this rather drawn out lesson in Jungceylon car park procedure). There was a sign outside the elusive ‘elevator’ but given there are seven other exits from the car park you’re unlikely to see them.

Apart from Jungceylon losing the patronage of at least two, or more, customers over their overly-officious and unprofessional behaviour, the system will surely remain unfixed waiting for the next stupid ‘farang’ to stroll innocently into the underground farrago.

The only bright light in the dingy car park fiasco was the pleasant young gentlemen sitting at the ‘elevator’ with his stamps and gracious smile, wearing full eye make up and blissfully unaware of the surly car park Nazis. He profusely apologised but I am fairly sure he was none-the-wiser about my lengthy explanation of the situation.

Give the man a pay rise!

For Jungceylon, I would urge better signage, in a few languages (it IS a tourist town), to inform us about their rather opaque car park procedures.

I did ask for a statement to include in this story from some of the ‘people with hand radios’ or a comment from the Manager. But there was none forthcoming. Our forum remains wide open for a response from management.

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Patong

Phuket’s lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Lifeguard Service

A commemoration ceremony has been held for Prathaiyuth Chuayuan, a local Phuketian who helped drive Phuket’s first beach lifeguard services. He passed away on Friday morning after a heart attack.

He first experienced chest pains whilst delivering his daughter to school in Phuket Town on Friday morning, drove himself immediately to the Vachira Hospital nearby but succumbed to cardiac arrest around 9am.

He was 57 years old.

He worked with Australian lifesavers to help train local lifeguards and improve the skills of the Phuket’s beach enthusiasts, and finally sought international accreditation for the growing body of competent Phuket lifeguards.

The Phuket Lifeguards Service, founded and run by Prathaiyuth and his wife Witanya, saved innumerable lives each year whilst battling Provincial Hall and local government for increased funding in annual contract negotiations.

Daren Jenner, a FOT (Friend of The Thaiger) and local safety officer for the International Surf Lifesaving Association, sent a message to us expressing his deepest condolences to Prathaiyuth’s wife, family and friends.

“I had many good conversations with him over the years. He was a good-hearted man who did his best in difficult and changing circumstances. A very big loss for Phuket and the lifesaving community here. ISLA sends our deepest respect for his long commitment to ocean safety in SE Asia.”

Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger

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