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Phuket Opinion: Never look back, never learn

PHUKET: The news that actual safety inspections of Phuket tour boats is finally underway is much welcome. Even better is that action has been taken in banning 10 boats from operating because they were deemed unsafe.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 12 August 2018, 09:00AM

Tourist Police Deputy Commander Surachate Hakparn (centre) making sure tour boats are actually inspected, and suspended if found lacking in safety, is only the first step in what is needed to restore tourists’ confidence in their safety while on holiday in Phuket. Photo: Tourist Police

Tourist Police Deputy Commander Surachate Hakparn (centre) making sure tour boats are actually inspected, and suspended if found lacking in safety, is only the first step in what is needed to restore tourists’ confidence in their safety while on holiday in Phuket. Photo: Tourist Police

Not so welcome, but sadly not surprising, is that more than 200 boats – about half the fleet – failed the inspections and were ordered to rectify their issues or face the same fate.

Yet despite all the press conferences and assurances, it already looks like we will be soon heading toward the same old devil-may-care attitude about safety. And let’s focus on not just the abstract concept of safety for the sake of ‘restoring tourist confidence’, as officials at all levels have been spouting, rather than preventing the next mass slaughter of families on holidays. This is what the rest of the world sees the Phoenix sinking as: Disaster? Yes. Preventable? Yes.

The boat inspections, if they continue, are in the end nothing more than making sure passengers are in safe vehicles. This alone poses a serious challenge for Phuket officials as historically Phuket is well practiced in failing to continue any safety campaigns.

But the tell-tale sign that down the road nothing will change is that, as Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen made plain just on Tuesday, still not a single official has been found worthy of naming as even ‘under investigation’ for failing to identify the safety shortcomings that led to the disaster.

The short of it is that someone signed the boat off as safe to put to sea and there has been no effort to understand why.

What officials seem to have failed to recognise is that the problem is the gaps in the information made publicly available – as if controlling the information will command people to believe them.

Laguna Golf Phuket

The problem with this is that the people they are trying to convince are not Thai. They have no reason to believe anything Thai officials tell them. As TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn has already admitted, the ‘problem’ with restoring tourists’ confidence has been that people were already saying what they thought on Chinese social media, over which Thai officials have no control.

All this posturing by officials leaves any potential tourist wanting to keep their family safe simply choosing another destination for a holiday. Good luck with that.






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Kurt | 16 April 2019 - 11:33:24

Are the more than 200 boats -about half the Phuket fleet - that last year failed the inspection, today sea worthy certified, with trained certified crews? And which Official was responsible for the inspections/certifications?

Timothy | 15 August 2018 - 07:48:46

Christy, this is Thailand. The worst punishment would be transferred to an inactive post. I know. Hard to get more inactive than they already are....I guess it's just Thai for being kicked off the trough for a while.

Christy Sweet | 14 August 2018 - 10:00:54

I think 30 days is too soon for an exhaustive investigation of this magnitude. More like 6 months is more appropriate. I would expect resignations at that time in a civil society.

Kurt | 13 August 2018 - 16:04:52

What was wrong with the Phoenix? After lifting the vessel, Officials need 30 days to get a clue about it, they said.  Let's start to say that a certified vessel is (normally) as sea worthy as the crew is seaworthy. And that is exactly the problem in Thailand. As the crew abandon the vessel at first without taking care passengers, mhh, that already says something. Right?

Joh | 13 August 2018 - 13:11:24

What was actually wrong with the the Phoenix? At least there was a hatch to the engine room aft, which most ferries doesn't have.

The fact, that the hatch wasn't closed and the boat was wrong navigated might be the real reasons for this disaster. Not to talk about cheap swim vests and the cowardly behavior of the crew. 

High waves, slippery road etc. are very seldom facts to blame on...

Christy Sweet | 13 August 2018 - 11:23:46

The cultural standard is life is cheap,  so dying is no biggie, just reincarnate back to a better life. All  this posturing is just appeasement to foreign tourists. Fortunately, Thai prostitutes will  keep the visitors er, coming.  Sex sells Thailand, and Thailand sells sex. 

Christy Sweet | 13 August 2018 - 11:17:42

Chinese authorities threatened a Phuket ban some years back. Guess they are as FoS as Thai authorities. 

Doneit | 13 August 2018 - 09:04:48

Yet something else that will be swept under the carpet as like many other laws. Thailand will never learn.

BenPendejo | 12 August 2018 - 18:20:50

Indeed, nothing but lip service and nonsense from Thai officials. I will still hold that what is needed to bring REAL change is a boycott by the Chinese...refusing to come here and risk their lives, like the 8 Chinese that were rescued by surfers, or the two young girls mowed down by another a-hole truck driver in Kamala. Thailand is as dangerous as ever, and Chinese seem to be paying dearly.

Kurt | 12 August 2018 - 16:15:15

About half the 'fleet' failed inspections, but i still see them sailing with tourists. Must be, because I not see any boat left in the morning around 11 AM at Phuket beaches, jetties. All sailed out, with tourists.  All the officials on the photo have no professional safety skills to check boats. All are just showing papers. ( thai way)

Kurt | 12 August 2018 - 16:09:38

Yes, but not only Veritas, also American Bureau of Shipping, and Det Norske Veritas. This Bureau provides trainings as well. ( see www.dnvgl.com). However for thai officials not interesting, these Bureaus are stricly transparant, no brown envelopes, no kick backs.

Pauly44 | 12 August 2018 - 11:49:01

Nothing much more to add to that except Ditto! Apologists?

Asterix | 12 August 2018 - 10:53:40

Safety inspection for tour boats and ferries by the Thai administration may be welcome by tourists; but it is not enough to have all safety equipment inboard as all those safety equipment must be used by qualified and well trained boat crews.

Asterix | 12 August 2018 - 10:53:06

The lack of training of boat crews by the Thai administration are making all that safety equipments completly useless, as we saw it with 'Phoenix' boat crew who jumped first into the life-rafts.

Nasa12 | 12 August 2018 - 10:09:04

Take in Veritas to inspect every tour boats in Phuket. 

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