PROSECUTORS NEARLY READY TO FILE CHARGES AGAINST PHUKET TIGER DISCO – At approximately 4am on the 17th August 2012 a fire broke out in the Tiger Disco on the holiday island of Phuket, Thailand, killing four people; two Thai Nationals and two Foreign Tourists, due to what was first reported as a lightning strike, which was quickly ruled out. It was later determined that the fire was caused by a fault in the electrical system.
When news first broke of the terrible incident on the 17th August 2012 the first question asked was ‘What was the Tiger Disco doing open and operating well past the legal 2am closing time?’ The answer, typical in Thai fashion to dispel any wrongdoing, was as statement from the owner, CEO Piya Isaramalai, he provided reporters with as statement that it was raining heavily and so he felt bad about closing and turning everyone out in the rain.
Of course the huge sums of money being taken over the bar and the fact that he pays the local police a hefty amount each month to flout the legal opening times, had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Once the dust had settled it was now a game of directing blame and trying to find a way out of any possible repercussions; it’s the classic Thai Way to sweep things under the carpet so as not to lose face, and more importantly reduce the amount of money that is going to have to be paid out to many greedy open hands.
The local electrical authority quickly dispelled the theory that a lightning strike caused one of its transformers to explode, therefore resulting in the perusing fire, killing four innocent people.
Now came the examination of the building permit and construction methods, both that mysteriously could not be found by the local authorities. Nothing unusual in Thailand as you can obtain any type of certificate, even a Land Title Deed to Government owned land, if you have sufficient connections and the all important amount of cash to stuff into an envelope.
As things unfolded over the next few weeks it was determined by forensics that sub-standard and illegal materials had been used in the construction, furnishing and fixings of the disco which led to the rapid spread of the fire killing four poor innocent souls.
Only days after the fire the Thai families affected by the loss of family members from the fire were seen photographed with the smiling CEO Piya Isaramalai along with government officials and the Governor of Phuket as he, CEO Piya Isaramalai, handed over 1,000,000 Thai Baht (approximately $30,000) as compensation for their loss and an assurance that they would not take the matter any further – in typical Thai fashion where money is the only thing that really matters they readily accepted the cash.
As for the tourists that died – don’t expect any real justice here for these poor souls. While Thailand likes to pass itself off as the ‘Land of Smiles’ the truth is very much a different thing and an ugly one at that. Thais refer to all foreigners as ‘Farang’ and see them as nothing more than an avenue for money. To them we are simply walking ATM machines and if a few foreigners die while holidaying on the island of Phuket, or anywhere else in Thailand, then it is of no concern as they are sure the next plane load of ATM’s will be landing any minute.
So, where are we at with the investigation? Prosecutors say they are now in the final stages of gathering evidence and witness statements in order to bring charges. What does this mean for most foreigners who are familiar with Thailand and the way Thais dispense justice?
Well it is perceived that the gathering of evidence and witness statements merely equates to having a behind closed doors discussions with CEO Piya Isaramalai to determine how much cash it will take to pay off the right amount of officials in order to get him off the charges.
In the meantime what is happening with the building? You might think that after forensics determined the building illegal, and the fact that it is burnt seriously, that it would be condemned for demolition, however the Thais have a different view, and that is to do something quickly in order to start making money, and so officials have given the go ahead to use the ground floor for commercial use – the CEO Piya Isaramalai intends to sweep up the mess left behind and rent this out to stall vendors; who will no doubt be selling pirated goods in order to fleece the foreign tourists.
Is this an isolated case? Is it really that bad in Thailand? I am sorry to say yes to both questions. There have been a high number of foreign tourist’s deaths, mainly due to negligence and the lack of public safety this year alone and yet the Thai Authorities refuse to do anything to make tourism safer in Phuket or Thailand as a whole.
If you are one of those thinking about taking a holiday in Thailand you may want to seriously consider changing your plans. While the Thai Authorities continue with their off-handed attitude towards holiday makers and their safety, for their own personal gain, it is obvious that Thailand is not a suitable place for anyone to visit.