The Phuket News recently sat down with Vice-Admiral Sayan Prasongsamrej, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy’s Third Naval Area Command, which encompasses the entire Andaman coastal region. Starting the interview, he established that his overall mission is to unite everyone in Phuket and ensure that officials succeed in working together to achieve this common goal.
V/Adm Sayan took on his position on September 30, 2014, replacing the previous Third Naval Commander, Vice-Admiral Tharathorn Kajitsuwan.
At the age of 57, V/Adm Sayan felt it was the right time to try and look after Phuket and its economy, before he retires at 60.
“I haven’t been in Phuket for very long. Despite the fact that Phuket is a small island, so many things have happened. Things that have made me question whether this was the right job for me. I admit that. So, I felt it was important to find out about the role from officials before I took on the job, that way I could be ready,” V/Adm Sayan stated with conviction.
“Actually, my main interest is in armament,” he smiled.
“Everything we have done has been to try and help Phuket and its people. We try to be good role models and if anyone does anything illegal, then we don’t try to cover it up. We must ensure our mission is clear and warn others that we don’t tolerate any illegal activities.
The commander reiterated that the navy’s primary role is to look after the people of Phuket, especially the tourists, who have experienced friction with taxi drivers in the past.
“Previously we had received an anonymous tip-off from a tourist who was treated unfairly while attempting to get a taxi from Phuket International Airport. However, we have recently received a lot more positive feedback that illegal taxis are no longer an issue.”
On the management of Phuket’s beaches and land encroachement, V/Adm Sayan remarked, “It’s a sensitive subject, because there are many officials and organisations involved. We want to work with other officials such as officers [of] Sirinat Marine National Park and Phuket province.
"I want Phuket to be united. I believe we can succeed.”
Asked what issue the navy recieves the most complaints about, V/Adm Sayan answered, “The Rohingya issue … It is a very sensitive issue, and we have to be careful how we proceed.”
He explained that Thailand has a policy to fight and prevent human trafficking, reiterating that the Royal Thai Navy will continue to support Rohingya refugees with food supplies should they make landfall in Thailand.
“We will continue to work with Phuket Marine Department and the Labour Department to address human trafficking issues. The ocean is wide open; it’s not like a road where you can just set up check points, and it’s easier for culprits [human traffickers] to evade us. It’s very important that officials work together and support each other,” he reiterated.
Asked what value is most important in promoting unity and stability, the commander said, “Sincerity is what I seek when dealing with other organisations. There is not enough of it going around. Too many officials want bribes to do their job,” he said.
“I spent my life sufficiently with just enough. And, I always address problems at the cause. I’ve never asked for a bribe. If we all do sincere work to protect the beaches, and our nation, I guarantee we will succeed, together,” he concluded.