PHUKET JET SKI SCAMS CONTINUE AND BACKED UP BY OFFICIALS – Only yesterday the Governor of Phuket, Maitree Intrusud, held a seminar for Jet Ski operators.
The Governor clearly pointed out that Jet Ski scams must end and that Jet Ski operators must learn to be polite, friendly and helpful.
Like so many attempts to bring the Jet Ski operators to book this is yet another that has failed after a recent demand for payment for alleged damaged has now created an international row between Australian and Thai diplomats.
An incident of disputed damage to a Jet Ski recently between Australian nationals and Thais once again resulted in the Australian Honory Consol, Larry Cunningham, being informed and getting involved in order to sort out the dispute.
However the during the ‘negotiations’ another Thai Official, Siriporn Tantiphanyatep, decided to get in on the game and after not quite getting her way she resorted by sending Larry Cunningham a text message which concluded with the line:
“It is not wise to always say bad things about Phuket while you are still living and doing your business in this city.”
The message could be taken no other way than a direct threat upon the personage of an Australian national whilst working under the capacity of the Australian Embassy.
After receiving such a message Larry Cunningham reported the incident to the Australian Ambassador who has taken affront to the context of the text message.
When Larry Cunningham was made aware of the Jet Ski dispute, on Patong Beach, he immediately contacted the Governor and the Chief of Marine 5; responsible for overseeing such disputes.
It was arranged that a meeting be held with the Commander of Police at Karon Police Station but after arriving he was informed that the dispute had been settled.
However as Larry Cunningham was leaving he received a text message that read:
”The Australian boy paid only 16,000 [baht] and has been released because the governor will pay the balance for him for the engine damaged as the boy made jet ski sunk to the ground, which is not covered by insurance.
He (and you too) should thank the governor instead of just making complaints all the times.
And it is not wise to always say bad things about Phuket while you are still living and doing your business in this city.” Siriporn Tantiphanyatep, Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Phuket Branch)
Despite her claim that the Governor had personally paid for most of the damage it later transpired that the Governor had in fact not paid anything at all.
Another issue arose as the Australian national reported that his passport had been confiscated and whilst the Police Chief at Karon admitted this he justified his actions by stating that the passport was only taken in order to complete the necessary police report.
Larry Cunningham did provide a statement to the press saying that he still had deep reservations over this latest incident due to the intimidation methods often used by the Jet Ski operators to extort payment for what is often fabricated damage to a Jet Ski.
During the Governors speech to the Jet Ski operators yesterday he urged them to understand just how vital their behaviour was to the success of tourism on Phuket and state that Jet Ski operators were in fact ‘Brand Ambassadors’.
The use of term ‘Brand Ambassadors’ might come back to haunt the Governor as if this is how Thais want to ‘Brand’ their country and if is the level of Ambassadorship it attains to then it is likely that Thailand’s Tourist industry will take yet another beating.
It has long been recognised that Jet Skis are the last thing any foreign visitor should hire and yet despite widespread information on the internet there are still many each year that fall foul to the intimidation and scams that the Thai Jet Ski operators engage in; in order to extort large sums of money.
It will certainly be interesting to see what, if any, follow up there is on the diplomatic front; I suspect there will be an attempt to swept this one under the carpet as quickly as possible.
With the recent introduction of compulsory Jet Ski insurance and now the seminars it is clear that the message is completely lost on the Jet Ski operators who appear content extorting funds from tourists without ever considering how they will make a living once tourism finally dries up.