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Safety First: Phuket Airport security meets international standards

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Safety First: Phuket Airport security meets international standards | The Thaiger

PHUKET: News about the grand opening of the international terminal at Phuket International Airport (PIA) has littered the airwaves since its official ceremony in September. Like every new, large-scale project in Phuket, and indeed elsewhere in the world, the new terminal has had its fair share of teething problems – something the public has been quick to notice, criticize and rail about.

However, one area where the new terminal has been roundly commended so far – for not only meeting, but exceeding expectations – is its state-of-the-art security system, including a full body scanner to match the level of security provided at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, the biggest in the Kingdom, and the sixth busiest airport in Asia.

The mammoth task of implementing this new system at PIA was entrusted to ASM Security Management Company Limited (ASM), which was formed in August 2006 as a joint venture between Loxley Public Company Limited and ICTS Europe Holdings BV.

Loxley is a business leader in many areas of commerce and industry, covering telecommunications, broadcasting, and general infrastructure that includes power, transport, environment and construction materials.

The company was originally involved in the export of primary products, such as rice and lumber from Thailand, and later made a move toward the import and sale of industrial and advanced technology products.

With a 74-year history as the market pioneer in cutting-edge technology, Loxley partnered with ICTS due to its position as the leading provider of aviation security services serving more than 45 airports in 20 European countries.

ASM mainly works to improve standards in security training and to measure the quality of implementation of those standards.

“The security standards we have implemented at Phuket International Airport are similar to what you see in the UK and all over Europe. We provide the airport with manpower and we train all our staff, about 1,400 people in all,” says Karn Thongyai, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of ASM.

Not only are they required to meet the minimum standards set by the local regulators – Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, in this case – but also standards agreed as per their contract with the client, which is Airports of Thailand (AoT).

The company aims for continuous improvement of standards, and is tested by international auditors, including European, American and Australian regulators, on a regular basis.

Their staff is trained using high-tech simulation software known as CBT, or computer-based training.

“We have a dedicated training facility and have invested a huge amount of money in CBT. During training, staff can use the simulation machines to understand and interpret the information that is presented to them,” says Keith Hollingdale, PQCT Director at ASM.

“They learn how to use that information to make a decision on whether something poses a threat and how to deal with it. Things like body and luggage searches are also part of the training.”

The training also focuses on the ability to identify and mediate if any articles such as knives, scissors or other sharp objects – or blunt items that can be used as weapons – or firearms, corrosives, explosives or any other prohibited items as defined by International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations, are found on a passenger’s person or in their luggage.

After two weeks of simulation-based ‘classroom’ training, security staff are given extensive on-the-job training.

“During that period, staff actually come into the operation and their activities are monitored by more experienced members. This is when they get to practice what they’ve learned and get feedback about how they’re doing and where they need improvement. What you can’t replicate in a classroom environment is meeting people and dealing with problems as they occur. It’s necessary to get hands-on experience for that,” says Mr Hollingdale.

The team at ASM brings with it extensive knowledge and experience from having worked in diverse fields and settings worldwide.

Mr Karn, who is also the Executive Vice President of Loxley, has more than 30 years of experience with the company.

“In terms of security, I hadn’t seen any company in Thailand doing what I thought needed to be done to bring us on par with other countries around the world. When I was first introduced to ICTS – which had been running this system in many European countries already – I became interested in bringing the same standard to Thailand,” he says.

“My background is not from the area of security at all, but I saw the opportunity and gathered the right people to work with me and make it happen. I’m lucky to be surrounded by many good people who helped me put this together, and we have had great success, both at Suvarnabhumi and in Phuket.”

Mr Hollingdale has worked at Loxley for six years, before which he spent more than a decade working with ICTS Europe.

“We have a really good team here in Phuket and all over Thailand who are really interested in what they’re doing and see the benefit of their work. I’ve travelled around the world and in some countries, you don’t get this level of enthusiasm. The people are keen to learn and apply the knowledge they have acquired during training. Justifiably, they feel a lot of pride in what they’re doing. You can see that they really do care about their work.”

Ruij Sangkhlavipa, Vice President – Operations Task Group at Loxley and Chief Operating Officer at ASM, has decades of airline industry experience. His previous tenures include working as the station manager for Scandinavian Airlines at Suvarnabhumi Aiport and as a security system consultant for AoT during the move from Don Muang to Suvarnabhumi Airport.

“The message we would like to give travellers is that security is everyone’s responsibility. If you see something suspicious, you must raise an alarm. You cannot only rely on security officers, especially at the airport,” he says.

“We hope that when you come to the airport, you understand that we are following regulations laid down by the authorities – at times we may have to confront you about things. I just want to clarify that this is being done for your own safety. Our staff is under immense pressure, not only because there are a lot of passengers going through, but also because of the things they sometimes have to do as part of their job.”

— Zohaib Sikander

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Tourism

The Area Hotel Quarantine – tweaking Thailand’s arrival options

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The Area Hotel Quarantine – tweaking Thailand’s arrival options | The Thaiger

We spoke about the new proposal for an Area Hotel Quarantine last Friday and in Thailand News Today. The mandatory 14 day quarantine (magically extended a couple of days at many facilities at the foreigner’s cost) remains the key sticking point for the return of tourists or travellers, in any significant or useful numbers. A number of visas and quarantine programs has done little to increase the numbers of foreign arrivals to Thailand.

The proposal, leaked out as a ‘discussion’ pending cabinet talks and a final decision, has not received much support from the overseas community that are trying to travel to Thailand, or former expats that are trying to get back. Many of the comments believe the 14 days, even restricted to a larger set of walls, is still too restrictive, costly and inconvenient.

“It would also be nice if the two weeks quarantine was not part of the visa! You get a two month visa minus the two weeks.”

“It’s still a prison if you can’t get out. Voting with my feet”

“There’s just not going to be any tourism until Thailand stops this 14-day quarantine nonsense.”

The proposal allows guests to leave their hotel rooms after the first 3 days of a 14 day stay. The proposal is on the agenda for the next CCSA weekly meeting. The proposal was mooted at a meeting last Thursday and chaired by Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

After the first 3 days, guests would have another swab test before being able to spend the remaining 11 days meandering around the rest of the hotel complex (so, suddenly, REALLY large hotels in great locations become much more attractive). But they wouldn’t be able to leave the hotel property.

The Area Hotel Quarantine is being seen as an accommodation for the hardest hit tourist zones in Thailand – Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani (the 3 islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao) and Chon Buri (Pattaya). In all cases the key tourist zones are desperate for the government to ease restrictions or do something… anything… to help boost travel to the battered tourist economies that rely, mostly, on the visits from tourists.

After the 14 day AHQ the visitor will be free to travel anywhere around Thailand.

Last Thursday’s conference call says that Ministers are trying to come up with ways to start re-opening up Thailand to more travellers from next month by expanding the options and slowly easing restriction.. They also want to re-open talks with neighbouring countries and other countries deemed ‘low risk’, or with high vaccination uptake, with travel bubble options, hopefully by May.

About vaccinations, the government is also considering plans to have a no-quarantine option for visitors to come to Thailand as long as they’ve been vaccinated. But the Public Health Ministers says they are looking at the lead from the World Health Organisation about how to administer this sort of ‘vaccine passport’ access as there needs to be a greater body of knowledge about the efficacy of various vaccines. The International Air Transport Association is also in discussion with airlines and governments about restricting access to international travel for people who have been vaccinated.

It was also disclosed this week that some foreigners in the first batch of golf quarantine, where they have to stay in their room for 3 days then can roam around the golf course and play golf, have tested positive for the coronavirus after the test on the third day of their stay. Another batch of Villa Quarantine tourists, visiting Phuket at the end of February, have all returned negative test results.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

(The hotel depicted in the main photo may, or may not, be associated with the Area Hotel Quarantine program)

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Crime

2 Phuket Town nightclubs shut down after allegedly violating multiple laws

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2 Phuket Town nightclubs shut down after allegedly violating multiple laws | The Thaiger

2 Phuket Town nightclubs are shutting down after allegedly violating multiple laws. The Maldives and H20 on Lim Sui Ju Road, on the south end of Phuket Town were ordered by the Phuket Governor to close immediately, with the Maldives being ordered to close for 5 years.

The order comes after the Phuket City Police inspected the Maldives club, arresting the manager for operating an entertainment venue without a permit, allowing people under 20 years old to work or “use services in the venue,” and for selling alcohol without a permit.

Governor Narong cited his authority under Section 4 of NCPO order 22/2558 to order the Maldives nightclub to be closed for 5 years, from March 5, 2021 to March 4, 2026.

The order also prohibits the operators from opening any other entertainment venues during the same period. The H20 nightclub was ordered to close by a provincial order after Phuket City Police say they inspected the venue and charged the operator for selling or providing shisha, or baraku, without permission.

The owner was also accused of operating an entertainment venue without a permit and violating the provincial order for enforcing Covid-19 safety measures. But it is unknown what penalties were handed down to the operator of the H20 nightclub, unlike the Maldives operator, who received a penalty.

Instead, the governor cited the Revolution Council announcement of 1959, to shut down the establishment for 30 days from March 5, 2021 to April 3, 2021. The orders noted that both operators of the clubs have the right to appeal the closures, having 15 days to file an appeal directly with the Phuket Governor.

Meanwhile, 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.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Drugs

Early morning drug busts in Phuket yield 9 arrests

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Early morning drug busts in Phuket yield 9 arrests | The Thaiger

An early morning drug bust in Rawai, Phuket has yielded 9 arrests. The first raid yesterday consisted of 30 task force members who raided a sea gypsy shack near the beachfront in Rawai.

43 year old Saroch Homhuan, and 34 year old Juree Bangjak, were arrested and charged with posession of a Category I drug with the intent to sell, after police found 9 pills of methamphetamine, or yaba in Thai, over 6 grams of crystal meth, or ya ice in Thai, and 3 other “items of evidence.”

31 year old Suriyan Na Takuathung, and 29 year old Prathip Areerop, were arrested and charged with possession of a Category 1 drug with intent to sell, and possession of a Category 5 drug respectively. Police say they found 20 pills of methamphetamine, 0.92 grams of dried marijuana and 5 items of drug paraphernalia.

Police also raided 2 houses in Moo 2, arresting 5 suspects, named as 21 year old Vikrom Kongwiriyakul, 32 year old Narunat Chanthamuwong, 18 year old Chanchai Damrongkaset, a woman named Chantha Hansaithong, and 21 year old Warut Rodphan.

Warut was allegedly found with a bottle containing 500 millilitres of kratom juice. Police also say they seized 150 grams of kratom leaf dregs which are used to boil leaves in order to make the juice. Police charged him with posession of a Category 5 drug.

Police say they confiscated a total of 13 litres of kratom juice from 4 other suspects, which was contained in 10 bottles along with other ingredients and equipment to produce the drug cocktail called ‘4×100.’

All 9 suspects were taken to the Chalong Police Station in which only 1 agreed to undergo drug rehabilitation.

The raids come after the Phuket Provincial Government ordered officers of the Muang District Office to target villages where drugs are prevalent. A spokesman for the government said police will continue to remove drug traffickers from the community while working to improve the quality of local people’s lives so they don’t have to use drugs anymore.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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