The call for responsible reporting came at a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday (May 22) attended by Army Region 4 Deputy Commander Maj Gen Pornsak Poonsawat.
“I want people to love each other and to work together to develop long-term tourism, especially regarding information about Phuket that is very sensitive,” Gov Norraphat said.
“People and the media have to make sure with us that the news (is genuine) before (sharing it) to prevent any (negative) effect on Phuket tourism,” he added.
The call by Governor Norraphat followed Phuket Provincial Police Chief Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen holding a press conference on Sunday in the wake of the social media reports, which stemmed from the news of Indian fugitives at large in Phuket on Saturday night (May 20). (See story here.)
“I have heard about a message that went viral on social media claiming that a police officer told a mother not to walk in markets in Phuket because there were people from three (specific) provinces in Phuket,” he said.
In terms of creating public fear, the “three provinces” would refer to the provinces Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, where combined areas of long-standing violence have become known as the “Deep South”.
“I want to say to media that we do not know where this information came from. I want people think first before forwarding any news because it can make people scared,” Gen Teeraphol said.
“I have read this message and I think it is unreliable. Thailand is a free country. Some people from the three provinces are in Phuket to look for jobs because they cannot find jobs in their provinces. They are not terrorists,” Gen Teeraphol noted.
“To be careful and to keep our eyes open to situations is good, but do not create a public panic. People in Phuket are very concerned about this issue
“People should be careful when receiving any news like this. When you want to post a message, it must be checked first. Do not just spread it around – it is not good for anybody.”
Gen Teeraphol pointed out that his officers were taking the security situation in Phuket seriously and had increased their efforts in past weeks.
“Phuket is a tourism province and has high security. Officers are strict in performing their duties. We have officers from Army Region 4 in Phuket to support security at Phuket International Airport and at the Phuket Check Point in Tha Chatchai.
“At Phuket International Airport we check all staff at the facility. Sometimes we do not tell media about what we are doing, but we are working all the time,” Gen Teeraphol said.
“I want to make people in Phuket feel safe and not to be worried. I do not want them to ask whether Phuket is safe or if there were any terrorists in Phuket. I want people to be sure that we are taking strict measures against terrorism,” he added.
Additional reporting by Chutharat Plerin