Don't pick on Koh Tao
- 11 Sep 2018 at 04:15
- WRITER: POSTBAG
It is disappointing that so many readers, letter writers and commenters in the Bangkok Post's various forums exude so much blind hate for an island many have never been to, or they set foot on it for a day, decided it's nothing special and then left again.
Bereft of statistics, or even logic -- people are calling it "Death Island", or even calling for the island to be closed.
There are approximately 2,500 Thai people that live on the island, approximately 1,000 or so westerners who work primarily in the diving industry and estimates of over 4,000 Myanmar people who work the more menial jobs. The local government has estimated almost one million visitors each year and that does not include the thousands of day trippers that come from Samui each day.
The local community, based around the diving industry, maintains robust ecological programmes and Thailand's first plastic-free 7-Eleven stores are located here. The local government keeps the community abreast of changes to the island, such as waste disposal or new regulations for boats. There are police, tourist police, marine police and a solid group of soldiers all here -- up from only a handful five years ago.
The island was voted into the top 10 in the world in 2015 and 2016 on Trip Advisor and some of the best rated dive shops and even restaurants in Thailand on TripAdvisor are located here. More people have learnt to scuba dive on Koh Tao than anywhere else in the world for more than 10 years running. Clearly there is something to like as many tourists have made their reviews be known.
There are far more incidents of violent incidents every week on the neighbouring islands and Thailand as a whole than happen on Koh Tao. A quick look at www.farang-deaths.com highlights Bangkok, Chon Buri and Phuket are way higher statistically for foreigners to die than Surat Thani province.
I was here in 2015 and the way the double rape and murder (on Koh Tao) was handled split the local community and the subsequent investigation and use of the two Myanmar men is questionable. But that is the Thai legal system (not the Koh Tao legal system).
The issue I see people taking with an island, is something that is more akin to Thailand as a whole. The Royal Thai Police has issues with investigating crimes effectively? That's not Koh Tao -- that's Thailand. Perceived mafia or controlling families? Again every single village in Thailand has that problem. Lack of justice? Again Thailand as a whole.
I have seen more taxi/beach/tourist scams in Hua Hin or Koh Samui than that on Koh Tao. In fact every time someone shouts loud about Koh Tao being corrupt or the local authorities are corrupt -- apart from coming across as ignorant to facts and statistics; you are really saying "Thailand" and using "Koh Tao" as a twisted proxy.
There are a myriad of issues in Thailand reported every day in the Bangkok Post, from freedom of speech and political representation, to lack of reform in agencies that need them. The way the Royal Thai Police and other authorities operate is not a Koh Tao issue, it's a Thailand-wide issue so get your target right.
Same old Thai attitude
Re: "Overseas input sought on North tram project", (BP, Sept 10).
Spare us the details. Over the years we've read that overseas input has been sought for Bangkok's traffic problems, flood alleviation, training police investigators properly, reforming the education mess, etc.
More money is spent on committees formed to figure out the "how" of it all. No foreign suggestion has ever been taken seriously or followed, nothing has ever been implemented. You know why? Because it is the same old attitude. "We know best what is good for Thailand." So why bother? Build another ugly, concrete snake over the streets in the North, just like the ugly elevated train routes through Bangkok.
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