Connect with us


Tourism Minister targets Phuket’s stolen passport trade

Legacy Phuket Gazette




PHUKET: Recent news of the stolen passports trade in Phuket and the recently found Russian kidnap victim prompted a visit from Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister to the island yesterday to meet with officials and get to the bottom of the issues.

“I came to Phuket to follow up on the cases concerning the stolen passports used to board missing Flight MH370 and the Russians that were reported kidnapped,” said Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak.

Phuket has been put under the international spotlight after the news broke that two men boarded the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 using passports stolen on the island (story here).

Last year, more than 2,500 passports were reported stolen in Thailand, explained Mr Somsak.

“In 2012, 2,000 passports were reported stolen nationwide. That number went up by more than 500 in 2013. Those numbers will have to be officially verified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but after studying news reports, we can see an increase in the trend,” he said.

The lead investigator on the case, Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Col Arun Kaewwatee, told the press, “After discovering that the passports used to board Flight MH370 were stolen in Phuket, we learned that 372 passports have been reported lost in Phuket since January this year, and 274 of those were reported lost in Patong.”

Those most commonly reported lost were Australian passports, followed by French, Chinese, British and Russian; the five biggest tourist groups that come to Phuket, said Col Arun.

Police are now pushing rental shops to collect more information about their customers and are planning to hand down stricter rules to keep foreign passports safe, he said.

“Phuket authorities are not taking this situation lightly, we are all pushing hard for solutions to the problem,” said Vice Governor Sommai Prijasilpa.

“The most important goal is to impress upon rental operators they should not hold passports as collateral on a rented vehicle. Passports belong to the foreigners’ home countries.”

Officials have started initiating changes by encouraging rental operators to verify tourists have a driving license issued in the tourist’s home country before renting out a vehicle, she added.

Mr Somsak was to present the information gleaned from his meeting with Phuket officials to the Cabinet and Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at a meeting in Bangkok today.

“We need to develop a detailed strategy to combat this common agreement made between rental operators and foreigners when they submit their passports as collateral,” said Mr Somsak.

“However, we cannot do this alone. We need to cooperate with the foreigners’ countries, voice our concerns about the agreements made between renters and customers and try to stop it from happening.”

Minister Somsak also called for Phuket Provincial Commander Ong-art Phiwruangnont to swiftly solve the ongoing case of the alleged kidnapping of a Russian couple, of whom the woman was recently found after disappearing for nine days (story here).

“If crimes like this are happening on Phuket, it is a big deal. We do not want kidnappings in Thailand,” he said.

Gen Ong-art confirmed that his officers are searching for two Russian expats suspected of involvement in the alleged kidnapping and that he expects to close the case soon (story here).


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forum
🔔 Subscribe to our daily newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)45 seconds ago

Omicron Covid-19 variant isn’t in Thailand, DDC director says

Media17 hours ago

No sex please, we’re Thai

Events18 hours ago

An aquatic meal with Olga Belka – taking art to new depths

Sponsored3 days ago

CBRE recommends top 5 luxury condominiums in Phuket with fantastic locations

Transport21 hours ago

Hua Lamphong (Bangkok Train Station) – History and future | VIDEO

Thailand22 hours ago

Bug-eating challenge with Natty, feat. Mark Abbott | VIDEO

Coronavirus (Covid-19)23 hours ago

UPDATE: Israel bans ALL foreign entry over Omicron

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand1 day ago

New variant could dampen Thailand’s reopening enthusiasm

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

UPDATE: Latest news on Omicron – what we know

Tourism2 days ago

Songkhla prepares for tourism across the Southern land border

Thailand2 days ago

French expat being denied re-entry to Thailand over repeated criticism of the Thai monarchy

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 days ago

COVID-19 SATURDAY: 6,073 infections, 32 deaths, provincial data

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 days ago

Omicron causing concern, Thai authorities ban travellers from 8 countries

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 days ago

Thailand’s nightlife venues and bars told to keep closed until January 16

Protests2 days ago

Amnesty International under investigation for defending activists

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 days ago

New Covid-19 strain named “Omicron” and a variant of concern

Thailand3 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism9 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism9 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism9 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11