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Warning over forged Immigration stamps

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Warning over forged Immigration stamps | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The Superintendent of the Phuket Provincial Immigration Office, Pol Col Sayan Krasaesan, has warned foreigners not to use the services of companies or individuals offering immigration services. His warning comes after 12 foreigners were arrested at Sadao Immigration office and others in Bangkok for having forged entry stamps in their passports. The foreigners, including British, New Zealand and French nationals, have since been released on bail of 160,000 baht each. All were arrested while doing legitimate visa runs. Some were doing “turnaround runs” to extend their stay on non-immigrant visas, while others were renewing tourist permits. Immigration officials spotted the bogus entry stamps, indicating that the passport-holders might not have actually left the country when earlier permits to stay had expired. The forged entry stamps purported to have been issued by Immigration offices in Sadao, Tak Bai and Padang Besar entry crossings, but officials say they do not know yet where they were stamped. “Foreigners must go to an Immigration office in person [to get entry permits],” Col Sayan told the Gazette. “They should not give their passports to other people to handle visa matters. “We are investigating agencies that offer this service for foreigners,” he added. The Gazette has learned that other foreigners were stopped and questioned – but not arrested – at Ranong Immigration after they, too, were found to have the forged stamps in their passports. An officer at Ranong Immigration, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Gazette that he knew about the tourists being arrested at Sadao Immigration and in Bangkok. “The problem comes from them using the services of a company in Phuket. “This company took 2,500 baht from each of the foreigners, but didn’t obtain entry permits from Immigration. Instead, it stamped fake stamps in their passports. “It seems that the foreigners didn’t know this was illegal, and that they are the victims. “I think foreigners should know about this news,” he added, “so that they have a better understanding of the rules.” A high-level official at Sadao Immigration, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the 12 foreigners were arrested there in August and September “because they didn’t go to Immigration themselves but gave their passports to the service agent.” The Sadao Immigration office took a harder line than Ranong. “The officers could not determine whether the passport-holders knew the stamps were forged, but we had to assume they did – and if you know a stamp is forged and you still use it, then you are liable to be arrested.” The officer said that, during questioning, the foreigners had not given officials much useful information, but that all of them seemed to believe that using an agent was legal. “I don’t know whether Immigration officers were involved, but it seems unlikely because the Immigration Bureau is currently very tough on corruption,” he added. He said that the forged stamps were similar to real ones but had differences that could be detected by officials. “If you came to Immigration in person [to get an entry stamp], then you have no need to worry,” he added. Pol Col Apirak Hongtong, former head of Immigration in Phuket and now Deputy Commander of Phuket Provincial Police, advised “innocent” foreigners who did not realize that they had broken the law by using an agent to obtain immigration stamps, to go to his office to straighten matters out, rather than waiting to be arrested. “Bring your passport to me and I will advise you and help you as much as I can,” he said. Col Apirak’s office is next to the Phuket Town Police Station on Chumphon Rd. The telephone numbers are 076-212046, 076-212129 or 076-221157.

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Environment

Phuket’s water bosses claim there will be enough water

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s water bosses claim there will be enough water | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Bang Neow Dam in Thalang, just a few muddy ponds

Well into the second half of the Phuket wet season and the three main dams are well below capacity, Bang Wad Dam just over 13% capacity and the Bang Neow Dam in Thalang district around 5%, mostly unusable muddy ponds. The newer Khlong Katha in Chalong is at a much higher level, about 30% of capacity.

But this time of the year the three dams need to be well on their way to full capacity if the island is to get through the high tourists season and dry season without a repeat of last year’s muddle where provincial obfuscation and confusion put the health of thousands of residents at risk by cutting off their water supply and water trucks became more populous than passenger vans.

The lack of water also co-incides with increased development and more tourists arriving each year.

Now the Director of the Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office, Somsawat Chaisinsod, is calling for province administrators and the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority to begin water saving campaigns as the annual heavy rains in October may not arrive or be less frequent. The suggestion of water ‘restrictions’ was not mentioned in the meeting.

At a meeting attended by Phuket’s Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana, Mr. Somsawat claimed that the island’s annual rainfall, for the first seven months of 2019, has only been 10% less than average.

But the dams are a LOT more than 10% lower in capacity. In the case of the Bang Neow Dam in Srisoontorn, it’s virtually empty.

A representative from the PWA said that the Authority is currently buying 45,000 cubic metres of water per day from undisclosed “private sources” to top up the island’s potable water needs.

“The PWA is in the process of securing water supply from a new supplier to improve the water supply and reduce the volume of water drawn from the dams.”

Meanwhile Prapan Kanprasang, chief of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation in Phuket, told The Phuket News he “believes Phuket has enough water to the island through the next dry season, after the annual rains cease early November”.

“We have enough water to use.”

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Crime

Norwegian out on bail following death of British man at Centara Grand Resort in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Norwegian out on bail following death of British man at Centara Grand Resort in Phuket | The Thaiger

SCREENSHOT: bbc.com

The bbc.com are reporting that a British man died at the Centara Grand Hotel in Phuket in a fight after telling another guest to “keep the noise down” as his wife and son tried to sleep, according to the man’s family.

The details in the BBC report conflict with earlier local reports out of Phuket.

The BBC report says that 34 year old Amitpal Singh Bajaj from the UK complained about noise from the next room at the five-star Centara Grand Hotel on Karon beachfront in Phuket.

The man’s family claims that another man forced his way into their room via the balcony early on Wednesday, August 21. The family claims that the man strangled Mr Bajaj.

In a statement Amitpal’s 34 year old wife Bandhna Kaur Bajaj described to police how the attacker “barged” into their room naked and attacked her husband.

“My husband sacrificed his life to save my son’s life and mine. He will always be our hero.”

“My husband tried to block the man and move me and my son away. As the man was kicking, punching and just, beating him up, my husband told me to please leave and save our son,” according to the BBC report.

The rendering of the report from the BBC is quite different from Phuket’s local news reports.

In Phuket reports it stated that a fight started at 4am, when the British man Amitpal Singh Bajaj confronted Norwegian Roger Bullman over the amount of noise coming from his room.

“Mr Bullman was drunk, and security had already visited his room twice to ask him to keep the noise down. When Mr Bajaj confronted him, he stabbed Mr Bullman in the shoulder with a steak knife.

Mr Bullman, trained in martial arts, then got the British man in a choke hold and maintained his grip on him. He says he did not mean to kill him, and did not think he had.”

The BBC report says that Mrs Bajaj grabbed the couple’s 2 year old son and fled the hotel room to look for help. She says she ran down a staircase and hid under a tree with her son in her arms while calling the reception from her mobile to tell them what had happened.

“I asked the reception to please make sure someone attends to my husband… “please give him some medical help, I’m very scared, I’ve escaped”, according to the BBC report.

“I could still hear the attacker screaming. I didn’t want to be attacked.”

Mr Amitpal was taken to Patong Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that a Norwegian citizen has been arrested in Thailand and is being provided consular assistance.

According to Phuket News, Karon police said that “Mr Bullman had been released on bail posted at the court, but was unable to confirm how much bail was posted at. Reports in the Norwegian media said that bail was posted at about 200,000 baht.”

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Phuket

Huawei technology working with the ‘smart city’ project in Phuket

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Huawei technology working with the ‘smart city’ project in Phuket | The Thaiger

Huawei Technologies impressed participants at this week’s ASEAN Smart Cities Network Conference & Exhibition in Bangkok with its white paper on smart city development in Phuket.

The paper aims to drive Thailand 4.0 initiatives to pave the way for major digital and infrastructure development in Phuket, one of Thailand’s pilot smart cities, and to provide insights and guidance on an integrated framework needed for a successful and sustainable urban transformation.

Inspired by Thailand 4.0 economic development program launched in 2016, the paper focuses on a practical ideas that helps empower Phuket communities for digital future.

Huawei conducted an assessment and case studies on the services and utilities required for a fully-developed smart city. The resulting white provides comprehensive insights into action plans to transform Phuket into a smart city by 2020.

The services include smart energy and utilities, smart mobility, smart environment, smart living and smart economy while the enablers are smart governance, smart infrastructure and smart people.

In his opening address, Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa)’s president Dr. Nuttapon Nimmanpatcharin noted that thanks to the support from the National Smart City Committee and organizations from both public and private sectors, the smart city developments have already begun in 6 prioritized cities: Phuket, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and 3 EEC provinces.

“As one of our pilot cities, Phuket needs a clear development plan and a sustainable management model in order to fully transform into a smart city in 2020, this white paper will surely help facilitate smart city project for Phuket and other smart city candidates as well.”

Chanchai Tanatkatrakul, Principal, Roland Berger Thailand added: “We looked at global best practices and analysed local issues and requirements to develop this Smart City Framework for Phuket. Talking to various stakeholders helped us tailor our recommendations that can address the needs of Phuket and its people very well:”

Deng Feng, Managing Director of Huawei Thailand agreed, saying: “At Huawei, we promote industry development at all levels. As Thailand embarks on the journey to become one of the first countries in the region to develop a smart city scheme, we will provide practical recommendations and solutions to ensure a smooth and complete city development for Phuket and the rest of Thailand.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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