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Phuket Opinion: Dying for willful ignorance

Phuket Opinion: Dying for willful ignorance

PHUKET: Phuket Vice Governor Supoj Rotreuang Na Nongkhai’s revelation this week that island officials are to ask for a law to be drafted so that red “No Swimming” flags can be enforced to help prevent tourists from drowning at our beaches during the annual southwest monsoon was a real head-turner for a slew of reasons.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 8 September 2019, 09:00AM

A lifeguard watches over a boy playing along the shore at Patong Beach. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

A lifeguard watches over a boy playing along the shore at Patong Beach. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

First, no new law is needed. Police, officials and even average citizens are already empowered to prevent a person from endangering themselves. Yet that authority does not extend to lifeguards. Maybe that’s worthy of consideration first.

Further, Mr Supoj thought it “strange” that “a lot of tourists” die at Freedom Beach – a comment noted after the body of Chinese tourist Yin Lei was found on Tuesday (Sept 3) after he was swept from a rock by a large wave there last Sunday.

Mr Supoj was the provincial official tasked with overseeing the body recovery efforts of Filipino tourists Angelo Cortez, 29, and Noah Ibay, 40, in July after they were swept away by strong surf there.

As with the death of Mr Yin, their deaths came amid a national weather warning and in both instances there were no lifeguards at the beach at the time they entered the water.

Perhaps by now that should have been brought to Mr Supoj’s attention, but right there might be exactly where the whole problem lies.

QSI International School Phuket

Phuket’s leading provincial officials either have no idea what is happening on our beaches, or they do know and just want to avoid taking any responsibility for it – no matter how many times they meet the families of those who died while on holiday here or tell envoys to their faces that serious steps are being taken for the safety of tourists.

Even Phuket’s provincial DDPM (Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation) officials have ditched any responsibility for keeping people alive at our beaches, instead choosing to dump that liability on local administrations.

That understanding comes despite a direct order from the Prime Minister as well the Minister of Interior and the Governor to take steps to ensure public safety during the weather warning in effect all last week, when Patong lifeguards rescued 17 tourists in one day alone.

And it comes while the same key office responsible for public safety from natural phenomenon knows that there are no lifeguards at Surin Beach.

You couldn’t come up with a better definition of culpability if you tried.

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