Thai jails swamped with inmates

Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news from around the world compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community.

PHUKET: The number of prisoners in Thailand’s 143 jails is now well over capacity, with more than 200,000 inmates around the country. About 60 per cent have been jailed for drug offences, Corrections Department chief Chartchai Suthiklom says.

In a report rich in prison statistics published by Phuket Gazette partner newspaper The Nation yesterday, it is evident that the large and rapidly growing number of inmates is severely affecting the capacity of the government to manage the jails and the inmates.

Records show the number of prisoners has risen drastically, from 152,625 in 2006 to 206,988 this year.

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The average number of new prisoners per month has risen from 16,000 last year to 17,600 this year.

The present ratio of staff to prisoners has now reached 1:20, but the “appropriate ratio” should be 1:5, Mr Chartchai says.

Even though most major drug dealers are now behind bars, the demand for narcotic drugs, especially ya bah (methamphetamine), remains strong, “so many people outside the jail are ready to become major new drug dealers,” the director-general says.

People want to be “new-face ya bah dealers because they can make a lot of profit from selling it,” he says.

The dealer cost of one tablet of ya bah is 3 baht, but they are sold in the street for 200 to 400 baht each.

“All new-face drug dealers are happy to take risks because the demand still exists, even though they know that they could face the death sentence,” Mr Chartchai concluded.

Protests over offshore drilling

Earth Times
Thousands of Thais formed a human chain on Samui Island over the weekend to protest a government concession to explore for oil just 42 kilometres offshore.

Villagers, students, fishermen, tour operators, hoteliers and environmentalists lined the 52-kilometre ring road on Saturday.

NuCastle (Thailand), a wholly owned subsidy of the London-based Coastal Energy Company, was recently granted a license to explore for oil in the concession area off Samui.

Fishermen vowed to block the company’s activities and an ecology conservation group led by the island’s governor threatened to file charges at the Administrative Court if the government refuses to review the concession by Thursday.

Although there have for at least 15 years been concession blocks for drilling off Phuket, none of the oil companies has yet to commence operations there. For the Phuket Gazette‘s report on drilling in the Andaman, click here.

Preah Vihear temple decision deferred

Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya said Saturday that the decision by the UN cultural agency to postpone reviewing Cambodia’s development plan for the area adjacent to the ancient Preah Vihear temple by one year to 2011 did not represent either Thailand or Cambodia winning or losing.

Mr Kasit was responding to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An’s earlier remarks that Cambodia had achieved its goal when UNESCO’s World Heritage Commission (WHC) agreed Thursday at its meeting in Brazil to consider Cambodia’s management plan for the Preah Vihear temple, listed as a World Heritage site.

But the WHC deferred its discussion on the issue to its meeting in Bahrain next year.

Phuket property on show in New York

I-News Wire
The Thailand Property Showcase Company, headquartered in Hua Hin and with offices in Phuket, Bangkok, Chiangmai and Pattaya, has gone ‘big time’ and opened an office on New York City’s prestigious Park Avenue.

Specializing in the sale and rental of high-end Thai property, including inventory in Phuket, the firm is focused on resort real estate and has a website at

CEO Lee Phillips, who is based in Hua Hin, noted that his agency now has satellite offices across the Kingdom, situated in most of the popular holiday destinations, including Phuket, and that the firm became “international” with the opening of new UK offices last year and the New York office this year.

— Gazette Editors

Phuket News

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