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Phuket Opinion: The deadly face of shame

Just how bad can Thailand handle a disaster situation? This past week we have seen officials unable to even keep count of how many people were supposed to be missing in the Phoenix tour boat tragedy – the worst single-vessel maritime disaster in Thailand’s modern history – nevermind actually attempt to find them.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 15 July 2018, 09:00AM

Top-ranking officials face the media at the Disaster Command Centre set up at the Phuket Marine office on Chalong Pier in the immediate aftermath of the Phoenix tour boat disaster, after the world had already seen the heart-wrenching damage done. Photo: PR Dept

Top-ranking officials face the media at the Disaster Command Centre set up at the Phuket Marine office on Chalong Pier in the immediate aftermath of the Phoenix tour boat disaster, after the world had already seen the heart-wrenching damage done. Photo: PR Dept

Mitigation responses included repeated explanations of how to claim your loved one’s body, public assurances that relatives of victims will be paid insurance compensation and the despicable handing out of “commiseration gift baskets” to those overwhelmed with grief at the hospitals.

Another tactic is that no ages of the victims have been made public, though it must be difficult for officials to quite rightly heap high praise on all the efforts by foreigners to rescue the 12 'Wild Boars' boys and their coach from Tham Luang cave while at the same time have bodies of foreign children being pulled onto tour speedboats by volunteers helping with the rescue mission at the other end of the country.

Phuket officials were warned time and again by a host of foreign envoys of the dangerous game they were playing, and all they could manage to do was placate fears for tourists' safety with words and grandstand events for no other benefit than presenting a positive image for the media as if to say, "See, we do care." Action to prevent disaster was not a priority.

Pity to Tourism Minister Weerasak who would have been told the same lies that Chinese embassy officials had been told repeatedly in recent months that tourists’ safety was being taken seriously. Imagine having to look Chinese Ambassador Lyu Jian in the eye and say you're sorry for that. Mr Weerasak was installed as Tourism Minister only a handful of months ago.

Worse, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuawan plainly laying the blame on foreign nominees alone bordered on blank racism, as if to say "We'll take your money, and we'll blame you too." There is no way this disaster happened without some Thai people playing their part. Kudos to those on Chinese social media whose scathing criticism forced the timely General to apologise, albeit seemingly only to save face or because he had been ordered to.

Policymakers know that without such foreigners hardly any of the critical aspects of the tourism industry would not have got off the ground as local Thais had no experience in how to do it. Many still do not have such skills today. That pertinent point remains valid across the island. Pick an industry – hotels, diving, restaurants and tours – and you can see the foreign influence and the benefit it brings.

To blame foreigners, even just procedurally for such a business to exist at least three Thai nationals must be culpable: at least one criminal lawyer and at least two officials who failed to perform their duty in checking the company being registered. With the rampant level of corruption on this island, we can all take a guess how that happens.

On that note, regarding boat safety, there is one main office that is in the spotlight, and the Prime Minster was standing in it just this Monday.

No, Thailand. This tragedy is yours and yours alone. You can’t tell anyone who lives and works on the island anything different. Royal Thai Government, you have failed the people you promised to keep safe. This shame is yours.



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khon kaen | 18 August 2018 - 19:50:54

When will the ages of the deceased be released?

Pauly44 | 16 July 2018 - 07:34:30

GR8 article as it simply says it as it is, something a few posters on here should wake up to! This level of incompetence from the authorities is not by mistake, it's by design as a result of the rampant corruption in Phuket, they're all crooks and this is the result, I do hope the Chinese stay away however I'm not confident, seems Thai tourism is coated in teflon, nothing seems to stic...

Christy Sweet | 15 July 2018 - 21:00:40

Scathingly accurate -well done.

Nasa12 | 15 July 2018 - 20:07:22

6 star (⭐️) Article very very good PN.

BenPendejo | 15 July 2018 - 17:59:48

Bingo! Well done PN...Thai officials need the blankets pulled right off of them so the world can see the reality beneath these foolish dog and pony shows for foreign ambassadors and the media. Wasn't long ago the the Governor was parading officials and the media along the docks in some ridiculous "boat inspection", and giving the "all is good" report to everyone concerned. ...

KurtTi | 15 July 2018 - 17:03:54

Yes,yes!Shame on Thailand! Agree 100% with this opinion. And good that there is a news magazine that shows us daily the thai incompetence.For me the best in Thailand.Great journalism.And whoever says that you are onesided is wrong.Raise your voice against this thai racism.Not we foreigners are biased,but thais are.The PN is a good example for the western  society superiority.

Shwe | 15 July 2018 - 12:20:34

totally agree with this article, well done

Sir Burr | 15 July 2018 - 10:26:13

Very good article. Every word rings true.

malczx7r | 15 July 2018 - 10:23:34

Couldn't have put it better myself, well said!

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