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It is looking more and more that Phuket has surpassed Pattaya as the area where there is a bunch of crime and a bunch of foreign criminals seeking refuge.

Not sure if you remember, but back about 7 years ago Maxim magazine published an article NAKED BY NOON, DEAD BY DAWN which was way, way over the top when it came to describing Wild, Wild, Pattaya. But, it caught the eye of Time magazine just as the stories of late out of Phuket have gotten international attention.

Phuket Tourist Police

Phuket Tourist Police

Things have gotten so bad in Phuket, they have instituted a “Patong Safety Zone” – whatever that means. And, since it was established on 1 August, we already have a report of an Aussie that got his ass handed to him by a group of Tuk-tuk drivers. Some safety zone. Fingers are being pointed both by the Aussie and the tuk-tuk drivers and my guess is that they are both somewhat at fault. But, it sure doesn’t help tourism when a bashed up face of a tourist is displayed.

To top it off, this so-called safety zone has a total of 31 Closed Circuit TV cameras – but – only 14 work. Again, some safety zone. You can read more about the safety zone and see pictures of CCTVs that anyone 6 feet tall with a can of spray paint can disable. The Phuket Gazette has a very good opinion piece this weekend talking about Phuket being the ideal location for gangsters, mobsters, mafia, or whatever you wish to call them.

I prefer “dregs of the earth”. Pattaya used to have this claim but it looks like Phuket is a very close second. Phuket has recently seen the murder of Australian travel agent Michelle Smith, stabbed while not giving up her purse to two thugs on a motorcycle, and we have a murder trial going on where a Phuket expat, Stein Havard Dokset allegedly stabbed his ex-girlfriend to death, stuffed her in a trash bin and stashed her in his basement. He confessed and has now changed his plea to innocent. Good luck Mr. Dokset. And, we have Marc De Schutter, wanted in Belgium, captured by the Thai Police. He was reportedly wanted for murder, money laundering and economic crimes in his native Belgium and is now cooling his heels in a cell in Bangkok awaiting extradition.

Now, all of this didn’t happen overnight. This has been going on for quite some time and it is only because the local online news media, Phuket Gazette and PhuketWan have been diligent about reporting the news truthfully, and not just repeating verbatim what some Thai Government Official wants printed.

I cited some examples from the first couple of months of 2012 in Phuket that shows Phuket heading down the wrong path back in March with “What the Hell happened to Phuket?”

The Phuket Gazette, in the op-ed piece, also names additional recent murder victims – Sunisa “Nong Som” Saiyoy, Rungnapa Suktong, or Wanphen Pienjai – and could have gone on to also say how dangerous swimming, driving, and renting jet-skis can be. This is the part that caught my attention, and so far only the Phuket Gazette mentions this:

Recent statistics are troubling. There was a 72.3% increase in heinous crimes in Phuket during the first half of this year compared to the same period last year. While comparison of the absolute number of crimes is not statistically significant, the apparent potential for growth in violent crime is unacceptably high.

What does this tell you about Phuket? A more than 72% increase in violent crime. And, what is being done to deter it. Oh yeah, set up a “Patong Safety Zone” with inoperable cameras.

The Thai Police in Phuket need to strike at the root of the problems. Ban the jet-skis period. Ban the tuk-tuk drivers period. Provide free or cheap transportation around Phuket like there is in Pattaya. Get the Thai Police off their asses and have them out on foot patrols. Get rid of the corrupt Thai Government Officials and Thai Police that have been turning a blind eye to all of the crime. And, not just a move to an “inactive post” – fire them – and if they have broken the law, put them in jail.

There needs to be a crackdown and not just empty promises from Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm who vowed to get rid of the mafia-like influence at the Tourist Beaches. Nothing has happened.

Foreign Diplomats have gone to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs urging them to do something to rid the beach areas of the thugs. Nothing but empty promises. If the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Tourism Authority of Thailand would ever publish accurate foreign tourist arrival numbers, the Thai Government would be shocked to see the decline in tourism and may just get off their asses and do something. Until then, the felons, pedophiles, murderers, thugs, mafia, scammers, will continue to flock to Phuket where they can set up business.

Although the Tourism Authority of Thailand would be loath to admit it, Phuket has just about everything a criminal on the lam could ask for: generous immigration rules for new arrivals; a wide choice of accommodation; a relatively low cost of living; and, perhaps, greater opportunity to obstruct justice than might be the case in some other countries. With its large expatriate community and millions of foreign visitors every year, Phuket is a place where just about anyone can blend in – whether from Novosibirsk, Nairobi, or Nakhon Nowhere.

I went to Phuket on holiday about 11 years ago, went again for a friend’s wedding, and also for my honeymoon and anniversary. But, never again. I will avoid Phuket like the plague until I see some real cleaning up and not just the bullshit that the Thai Government puts out.

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