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Phuket Opinion: Military uniforms for beach surf safety anyone?

PHUKET: While local government officials try to convince Chinese officials and tourists that Phuket is a safe place to travel by putting on their marine safety inspection shows following the deadly Phoenix boat disaster, people are still drowning on Phuket’s west coast beaches without a word being said about it.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 26 August 2018, 09:00AM

it might be time to get the Armed Forces out there to prevent people from entering dangerous surf at Phuket’s beaches. Photo: The Phuket News / file

it might be time to get the Armed Forces out there to prevent people from entering dangerous surf at Phuket’s beaches. Photo: The Phuket News / file

It is already clear that the island’s current lifeguard situation isn’t working. Sadly, it is also very clear that very little is being done to change this.

But let’s take the issue away from the lifeguards – be they qualified to international standards or not – for once and let’s turn our attention to the ignoramuses who continue to ignore the red flag warnings on the beaches and also choose to go into the sea after dark when lifeguards are no longer on duty.

Only those people who choose to ignore the red flag warnings or go for a swim after dark know why they do it, and sadly it is clear that lifeguards can do very little about it.

To be fair, lifeguards actually have no power when it comes to stopping people ignoring the red flags, all they can do is advise them against it, advice which is clearly ignored.

Perhaps these ignoramuses know that lifeguards have no power to stop them and so still go into the water.

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Perhaps these ignoramuses come from countries where the power of a whistle means nothing, and to be honest there are plenty of countries like that.

But if the power of the lifeguards and the power of the whistle don’t stop people going into the dangerous surf then attention must be turned to what will, which is obviously only if Phuket wants its drowning incidents reduced.

There are currently an estimated 335,425 active Royal Thai Armed Forces personnel in the country, and for the sake of it let’s just say there are 25 beaches on the west coast. If the Royal Thai Armed Forces were to provide just 30 personnel for each beach (750) that would be a tiny percentage of their estimated personnel.

This might seem like a drastic measure, but with the current drowning situation clearly not getting any better, and with people continuously ignoring warnings, it might be the only option.

It is clear that the red and yellow uniforms don’t have the desired effect on the public, but perhaps some camouflaged military uniforms and matching sidearms might just do the trick.



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Christy Sweet | 29 August 2018 - 11:06:58

[sighs] Read any Malcolm Gladwell lately? I recommend the author as an example of critical and non conformist thinking. 

Jor12 | 28 August 2018 - 21:04:25

"...that can and will arrest violators" What violators? if there is no law they can't violate anything.  It's just a waste of resources.  Just let the buggers drown.  If they don't understand that's too bad, it's their problem. The Army is better off looking at Facebook for violators in an airconditioned office.

Christy Sweet | 28 August 2018 - 09:43:20

No law as of yet, which is why drownings are almost a daily occurrence.  Either remove the lifeguards or provide them with the tools to enforce beach closings -  a show  of force in way of armed personnel that can and will arrest violators. But that might depress tourism numbers so we all know it will not happen- money over life.

Jor12 | 27 August 2018 - 19:35:13

What law Christy, authorises the army or anyone else to enforce a beach closure? How will you stop them - shoot them? The juanta army is more intent on internal harmony and locking people up for commenting online, criticizing them or stopping protests...that's the limit of their concern. 

vegasbaby | 27 August 2018 - 19:29:45

Most tourist deaths are due to unsafe boating, unsafe driving and other areas not monitored by beach lifeguards.  Tourists need to take better care while having fun and tourism service providers need to be much better educated and inspired to always put safety first.

BenPendejo | 27 August 2018 - 14:23:58

Lifeguards lining a beach with red flags then going back to their beach chair business 150 meters down the beach is not looking out for tourists. I realize that there are plenty of careless fools, and not much you can do about that. But face it, Phuket does a miserable job of managing all aspects of tourist safety, and is quick to point fingers when things go wrong. Shame on Phuket and PN.

BenPendejo | 27 August 2018 - 14:18:20

Seems PN and Phuket officials are missing the point, and referring to tourists as ignoramuses is pretty low. These people (tourists) chose to come here for a holiday, to enjoy beaches, which many of them have never seen or been to. Many simply don't know the ways of the sea, therefore it should be the responsibility of a good host to ensure their safety. Phuket fails miserably at this.

Fascinated | 27 August 2018 - 13:05:01

What a ridiculous article - this is not the role for any military anywhere in the world. The military is not there to monitor morons who have no common sense when it comes to the sea.

Rorri_2 | 27 August 2018 - 06:15:54

I wonder who wrote this article, the use of the word "ignoramuses" does NOT seem professional. One simple fact, a lot of tourist simply do not know what the red flags, and red/yellow, mean, we see it so often on Australian beaches.
The over use of the flags does not help. It seems strange that Bondi beach, Australia, has up to 40,000 beach uses,  Phuket can't handle a few hundred.

Christy Sweet | 26 August 2018 - 18:11:55

 Uniformed and armed military personnel can enforce a beach closure whereas everyone knows lifeguards have no such authority.

Jor12 | 26 August 2018 - 16:32:39

Other than look pretty, what powers does a camouflaged military uniform and matching sidearms prevent anyone from going into the surf?  It's just replacing one uniform with another.

Christy Sweet | 26 August 2018 - 16:30:33

 "Lifeguard"   is why people ignore flags and signs, they see a lifeguard and assume their life will be guarded.  Remove this factor and fewer people will risk entering the surf. 

Kurt | 26 August 2018 - 13:43:57

Forgot to say:  After all, the beach police is already needed to enforce the smoking ban law on the beaches.

Kurt | 26 August 2018 - 12:55:06

Think first about implementing beach law enforcement at beaches. Than have a few police officers in beach uniforms at every beach to enforce besides and back up the lifeguards.  Army belongs in army barracks.

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