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Special Report: Phuket Gazette keeping an eye on corruption

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Special Report: Phuket Gazette keeping an eye on corruption | The Thaiger

Special Report:

Thailand has again ranked poorly in Transparency International’s annual report on corruption worldwide, released last week. How does this report affect Phuket?

The Phuket Gazette investigates.

PHUKET: Global corruption watchdog Transparency International last week released its annual report on corruption worldwide.

Known as the Global Corruption Barometer, the report compiles an international index of all countries based on surveys of everyday people and how corruption affects their daily lives.

Thailand did not fare well: 71% of respondents felt that police were corrupt or extremely corrupt; 68% felt that political parties were corrupt or extremely corrupt; and 58% felt that public officials and civil servants were corrupt or extremely corrupt.


Cost of corruption. Source: World Bank
The surveys confirmed Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index released last year, in which Thailand ranked 88 out of 176 countries. Thailand’s ranking identified it as worse than Serbia and El Salvador, on par with Swaziland, marginally better than Malawi, but much better than Iran, Uganda and Afghanistan.

The annual Global Corruption Barometer report this year also highlighted the fact that corruption reached into nearly every facet of people’s lives in Thailand: 32% of respondents felt that education systems were corrupt or extremely corrupt and 21% felt that medical and health services were corrupt or extremely corrupt.

In short, over one fifth of respondents believed that parents in Thailand could not send their children to school or to hospital without facing corruption.

SCHOOL’S OUT

Anurak Rungrueng, Acting Director of the Phuket Primary Education Area Office (PPEAO), and hence the chief administrator of all government schools in Phuket and the neighboring provinces, does not believe one third of a sample population accusing the education system of being corrupt constitutes a problem.

“I don’t think the education system is that corrupt. This number [32%] might be inflated because of the recent news of people cheating on the national teacher admissions test. This gives people a bad perception of the Thai education system,” he said.

“Apart from the teacher admissions test scandal, I do not see any other problems that can be considered as corruption in the education system,” he added.

Regardless, Mr Anurak called on all Education Department officers to be transparent in their affairs as a personal responsibility in order to combat the perception of being corrupt.

“Each official must be held accountable for their work and everyone must be transparent – especially education staff,” he said.

He added that his officers carry out random checks to ensure staff do not take advantage of their positions.

“We regularly check up on our officers, this is especially so when equipment is being purchased. I believe we have been doing great work to keep Phuket’s educational system free from corruption,” he said.

“However, every department has bad people, and I urge anyone who sees any corrupt activities in Phuket’s education system to report it to us at 076-211591,” Mr Anurak said.

HEALTH AND WEALTH

Phuket Provincial Health Office Director Bancha Kakong, likewise, sees corruption in the Health Ministry as a national issue, not a local one.

“I think Phuket plays a very small part in the 21% who believe that the Thai health ministry is corrupt. I believe we have a great system to check up on corruption,” Dr Bancha said, without elaborating what measures are in place to curb corruption in his office.

“Where cheating can exist in Phuket is with the bidding for health ministry projects, but this is more about construction companies securing contracts and then passing on the work to another company to complete the project at a cheaper cost,” Dr Bancha explained.

POLICE

While Phuket’s top health and education officials are willing to dismiss corruption as a non-issue, the police – the worst-rated institution in the survey – recognized that corruption does exist in Phuket and that work still needs to be done to root out the culprits.

“I cannot deny there is a problem concerning police corruption across Thailand, including Phuket,” said Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Arun Kaewvatee.

“In Phuket, there are some lower-level officers who are involved in corruption. However, we are getting rid of them,” said Col Arun.

“The Royal Thai Police is a big organization – there are more than 200,000 police officers across the country – so it is not easy to check up on all of the officers, but we try to have our own officers investigate crooked police and we punish them in accordance with the law,” he added.

Col Arun believes that public perception may play a large part in such a high number of people (71%) believing that the police are corrupt or very corrupt.

“The nature of police work is to arrest bad people and have them locked up. People do not like police when they are suddenly involved in their lives.

“This is so not only in Thailand; other countries have the same problem as well,” he explained.

“However, we cannot blame the poll or people. We need to take a good look at ourselves to make sure we are doing enough to gain the trust of the people, instead of making them fear or hate us,” he said.

PAY DIRT

Among the top suggestions for combating corruption among the ranks of civil servants, according to the World Bank and Transparency International, is to raise base salaries.

According to the Royal Thai Police Act BE 2554 (2011), a senior-ranking officer of the rank Colonel, usually indicating the officer is at least a police station superintendent, receives a starting salary of 18,910 baht a month.

A Sergeant Major, however, is to be paid a meager starting salary of 9,850 baht a month.

Col Arun believes that raising police salaries any further would have only a limited effect in reducing corruption among police in Phuket.

“Increasing police salaries might help stop some corruption, but lower-lever officers would not gain much if their salaries were raised. The point is, regardless of rank, police officers should not receive any dirty money,” he said.

“We need everyone to help us check up on police officers on the island and report any illegal activities to us,” Col Arun urged.

“There are more than a thousand police officers stationed in Phuket. There must be some bad police in our force… We will investigate and get rid of them,” he said.

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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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