A meeting was held on Koh Phangan Island on the 9th of February chaired by the Chief officials of this island, Samui and the head of Marine Safety for the whole Suratthani region.
Partly this was in response to the accident at the January full moon party but also to address many other issues. In attendance were about 400 locals from various businesses and walks of life on the island. The meeting which went on for about 3 hours covered many subjects. The first item on the agenda was the boat accident and the new rules regarding any one taking tourists out in boats of any kind. New rules include that the boat must have on board life jackets for all passengers. Also no jeans or long sleeves are to be worn and swimming clothes will be the order of the day. A leaflet has been printed only in Thai unfortunately which they are all meant to read and follow. This seems to cover site-seeing to fishing trips as well as diving trips. The head of the marine department stressed to all parties concerned he will be having his people in-force the new regulations as his job is on the line over this issue.
Petty theft from the motorcycle baskets is becoming a major problem and the motorcycle renters have been told to remove them. As expected this raised a few complaints as good money is made out of replacing the baskets when accidents occur. The smart move would be to move the basket to between the seat and the front head stock as is common in some other countries. Crash helmets will soon be compulsory for all tourists as well as Thais with an on the spot fine for all those ignoring the rule.
The authorities stressed the importance of tourism and urged the people to take better care of tourists as they are a major if not the major source of the islands income. The long term residents are known to actually put a great deal into the island by way of businesses and by helping in various ways in the community and this was acknowledged by the people chairing the meeting, which was nice to hear. Following the same line the police also want bad or problem tourists to be reported to them. (I wonder if this extends to reporting bad or problem Thais?).
Staying with the tourist theme all resort and house renters must keep a registration book of all people staying with the name, nationality and passport no of tourists and it must be kept up to date. The police will be checking up to make sure people are complying with the new rules, or so they say.
Also mentioned was soon all long stay people will have to report to the police station every so often. As of now no one seems to know exactly when this will happen and what questions will be asked or forms filled out, but when it’s made clear an update will be posted on here. The chief of police wants resort owners to tell tourists to take the number of the taxi they are using before they get in as there have been a few taxi drivers handing over counter fit bills in change at night. Also indirectly related to this is that in late January a girl was driven into the jungle and raped by a taxi driver and some other Thais.
A new police post may be built on the Chaloklum to Madeua Wan road on the mountain as a few people have been robbed by some low life’s coming off the mountain to hold them up. (I never knew we had bandits here, lol, you learn something new every day). The police are very concerned about a possible terrorist attack on the island at any full moon party and want everyone to be extra vigilant. (and I thought looking at Haadrin beach the day after a full moon party there had been a terrorist attack). He also asked people to bring any and all problems directly to him and not to the local cop sitting on a street corner, I ask does that extent to the tourists taking their problems to him? I hope so. From the sounds of things the new chief of police wants to get a handle on the island which is exactly what it needs. The authorities realize the island is going through a transition at the moment with more big money resorts poised to come here and want to be ready to meet the demands related to them.
By the sounds of what went on at the meeting things are going to change in our little paradise and with luck for the better for all who live here. I wish them the best of luck.