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Power to the guards

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PHUKET: Following an effort to stomp out life-threatening recklessness on Phuket’s beaches, lifeguards and Karon Police have joined forces to help prevent beachgoers from entering dangerous waters.

With the new initiative, lifeguards will now inform police officers of any unruly or disobedient swimmers or visitors.

“If lifeguards can’t stop tourists from swimming, we are ready for them. We can be there to help talk to the them,” said Lt Col Pornarong Karnorachai of Karon Police. “We believe that they will be calm and more apt to listen to us, so that we can save them from entering the dangerous currents.”

In the past, swimmers who neglected lifeguards’ warnings would be met with a barrage of whistles and commands, and in worse-case scenarios, have a jet ski laden lifeguard ride up to them and urge them out of the water.

Kata-Karon chief lifeguard Uten Singsom highlighted that the power of police authority is necessary on today’s beaches.

“Sometimes fights can break out when a tourist doesn’t understand English and is ignoring our warnings. It’s good to know that the police will be available to help us,” he said.

Col Pornarong noted that if someone is unable to communicate in English or Thai, the force has volunteer interpreters who can speak several languages to help diffuse hostile situations.

Karon Beach was marked as the deadliest beach on Phuket after eight people drowned between October 2012 and September 2013, including one of Thailand’s best-known graphic designers, Pharuephon ‘Tum’ Mukdasanit, also known as ‘Mamafaka’, said Karon Police Superintendent Weerawat Jantarawichit.

Last year, Kata and Karon were responsible for half of the island’s drowning deaths, confirmed Nararit Touyon from the Tourism Department of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization.

Even so, Col Pornarong explained that the police have no intention of pressing charges against angry tourists unless it’s absolutely necessary.

“If a tourist becomes disruptive, they will be taken to the police station to calm down. They may need to sign a report stating that they have been aggressive or drunk,” Col Pornarong said. “And we will explain to them that if they are involved in an accident after being warned, this document will be attached to their file and, in some cases, may cause them or their family members difficulty when filing insurance claims.”

Karon Beach Officer Lance Corporal Pitsanu Singhara assured that beach police have the full authority to arrest anyone who breaks the law and are able to remove tourists from the beaches if they are aggressive or drunk.

“If we see it is necessary to get the tourists to calm down, we will do so,” said LCpl. Pitsanu. “Even though those of us patrolling the beaches are there for only a few hours at a time, lifeguards will always be able to reach us if they need assistance,” he said.

Col Pornarong confirmed that the Beach Police are currently patrolling both Kata and Karon beaches every day and night and will also be trained in life-saving skills.

Though police will be trained to assist in an emergency, Mr Uten noted that it would not be their duty to jump in the water and save swimmers.

“We do not expect police to help rescue people from the water,” Mr Uten said. “The fact that they are there to help us prevent people from swimming in dangerous areas is already a huge help.”

“But if that day comes, it’s good to have more people who have life-saving skills on the beach.”

Col Pornarong admitted that there will always be a few glitches to work out in the beginning, but is confident that once the adjustment period is over, everything will run smoothly.

The Beach Police initiative was first presented to the public by Phuket Provincial Police Commander Patchara Boonyasit last November, as he wanted to have officers on the beach to serve and protect tourists.

Later that same month, the first group rolled into action in their polo shirt uniforms, mounted on their patrol bicycles.

“Phuket is a famous tourist destination that has many beautiful beaches and we want to ensure people’s safety while they are here,” Maj Gen Patchara said on the day of the launch. “Safety is our top priority.”

Gen Patchara has given his full support to the new lifeguard-police initiative.

“Although we have the Karon Police and Beach Police on patrol, I don’t think it’s enough. Having lifeguards and police work together and share their skills to help prevent accidents on the beach is a great idea,” Gen Patchara told Phuket Gazette. “It will help move the police network forward, as police may not be able to be on the beach all of the time.”

Gen Patchara also urged tourists to obey the warnings of lifeguards rather than involving the police or risking their lives.

“Please do not ignore the red flags. It’s all for your own safety. We see a lot deaths because people ignore warnings. Please follow the rules so that you have a safe and happy trip on the island.”

Watcharin Pathomwatanapong, chief administrator (Palad) who heads the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) and Karon Mayor Thawee Thongcham were not aware of the new efforts set forth by the police and lifeguards, though they both said they could see nothing but good things coming from it.

— Chutharat Plerin

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Phuket

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

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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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International Schools

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

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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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Tourism

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festivalis set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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