The launch of the webpage, called “Notification of Complaints to the Marine Department” (click here), aims to allow people to file complaints instantly, with photos, Phuket Marine Office Acting Director Wiwat Chitchertwong explained to The Phuket News.
“It will be easier for foreign tourists and other people to inform us about bad marine services or unreliable services in Phuket,” Mr Wiwat said.
“Also tourists can change the language from Thai to English with a single click (using the built-in Facebook translation service).
“After that the Marine Department (head office in Bangkok) will record the complaint and send the information to us. Then we will go to work on the complaint, and depending on the we will warn or charge the boat operator or even revoke their license.
“We can even force them to undergo training after they have been handed down punishment or a warning,” he said.
Mr Wiwat noted that people can still file complaints through the Marine Department’s existing complaints web portal, which launched five years ago. (Click here.)
“But Facebook allows people to file complaints in English, and there is even a QR Code that people can scan to access it,” he said.
Alternatively, Thai speakers can still file complaints by calling the free hotline 1199, he added.
However, the launch of the Marine Department’s Facebook complaints page today comes while a serious complaint filed in English through the formal website about a tour speedboat allegedly nearly running over a snorkeller off Phuket remains not even being passed to the Phuket Marine Office after after 11 days.
The complaint, filed on Dec 27 and addressed “To Phuket Harbourmaster”, reports alleged reckless driving by a speedboat operator off Koh Mai Thon, located just over eight kilometres from the tip of Cape Panwa.
“A speedboat of a tour operator [...] almost ran over a snorkeller at Koh Maithon. Me and my friends just happened to be at anchor at this bay and the incident unfolded right in front of us, the speedboat was flying into the bay at full speed to show off to the tourists onboard and only our frantic screaming at them made it stop at the last second, the swimming man luckily emerged unharmed from under their bow!!” reported the complaint.
“This was the most reckless driving we have ever seen with an absolute disregard to safety and our hands are still shaking from witnessing this incident.
“Two boats of this tour operator arrived to the bay, the logo of the operator is shown on the pic2 but the boat that nearly caused a fatal accident went hiding behind the rocks right after the incident and I could take only one photo (pic3) at a distance - it was sitting between two rocks.
“Same logo on the freeboard, red roof. I am sure the driver can be identified easily when your authority contacts the business owner.
“We would like to report this incident to Phuket Harbourmaster and the relevant authority and also bring awareness to the surrounding - a lot of incidents including fatalities on water in Thailand are due to the tour operators’ reckless and ignorant behaviour towards people and the environment.” (See complaint here.)
Mr Wiwat today confirmed to The Phuket News that he had taken no action so far about the complaint as he was unaware of the incident.
“I have not yet received any notification of this complaint. I am waiting for the Marine Department to send this information,” he said.
Mr Wiwat also offered no explanation as to whether the new Facebook page will improve how complaints are handled, and why.
Yet Mr Wiwat did claim that he had no authority to take any action on any complaints posted without first receiving a formal notice from Bangkok.