At the very least, the sight of soldiers on the same Phuket beaches where bikini-clad women soak up the sun was bizarre. Although it was not exactly the picture-postcard scene tourist officials would want to send out to the world, it has to be said the military’s efforts to clean up the beaches and national park land on the resort island proceeded relatively smoothly last week.
Some vendors were angry at being moved on, but reports from Phuket suggest most took the destruction of their long-standing businesses by men in military fatigues with equanimity. They did have a fair amount of warning: in the seven weeks since the coup there has been a concerted effort to root out corruption and smash criminal networks that both exploit tourists and harm residents. Those operating businesses without proper permits were apparently given a month’s warning.
The efforts of one policeman and his small team, working in concert with the military and the National Council for Peace and Order, are detailed in today’s edition of Spectrum. The fact he has succeeded where so many have failed to even try hints at the scope of the province’s corruption problems.