Over the summer months Allmode Intelligence will be issuing a number of ‘Security Reports’ that will cover the regions of Southeast Asia. The purpose of these reports is to aid vessels and their crews by providing up to date information to increase local knowledge and improve their situational awareness.
Situational Awareness (SA) is all about having the information you need to make effective decisions. There will always be occasions when people are required to make critical choices– sometimes very quickly – and the vast majority of errors that occur are the result of failure in situational awareness.
Below are some excerpts from the full report.
Political stability and terrorism
The political situation in Thailand is currently unstable. On 21 March 2014, the Constitutional Court annulled the general election held in February by the Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in response to the anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok. Protesters demanded her removal and boycotted the election. Anti-government protesters had been trying to get rid of Ms. Yingluck for four months due to her amnesty bill that was supposed to grant an amnesty to and restore the confiscated fortunes of a single individual for whom the bill was originally crafted: Thaksin Shinawatra, the Prime Minister’s elder brother, ousted in a coup in 2006. After the CC decision, protests started again in Bangkok.
On 22 May 2014, the Chief of the Royal Thai Army announced that the military had taken control of government. A curfew was introduced and then lifted in all parts of the country 13 June 2014.
On 17 June 2014, Thailand adopted a temporary constitution, which is the first step to return the electoral democracy.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warn against visiting the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla on the Thai-Malaysia border as on 10 April 2014 the Australian authorities indicated that Muslim extremists may want to target westerners in the southern border provinces. They also advise not to travel to the Preah Vihear (Khaoi Pra Viharn in Thai) temple area and the Ta Krabey/Ta Moan temple area on the Thai- Cambodian border due to the presence of troops in the area and the risk of fighting.
There is a high threat from terrorism in Thailand, which is mostly caused by the insurgency in South Thailand probably started by the Muslim separatist movement in Yala and Hat Yai – bombings in 2012 killed thirteen people and left more than 300 people wounded.
The violent attacks started twenty years ago. The conflict intensified in 2001 when Thai authority symbols (police, military and schools) were attacked. Real terrorist attacks began in2004 in southern, mainly Muslim, provinces – due to the fact that Thailand is a Buddhist- majority country, Muslims complain that they are treated as second-class citizens. Since then, over 5000 people have been killed. Insurgent attacks target mainly ethnic Thai Buddhists and ethnic Malay Muslims in the provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala. To calm the southern region, Thailand’s military junta put new security measures in place on 22 June 2014.
Since January 2009, eleven British people have been murdered in Thailand. Since 2004, there have been frequent attacks – arson, bombings and shootings – in the far south of the country. Over 5,000 people have been killed and several thousand more injured.
Gem scams are extremely common in Thailand. The best solution is not to buy gems at all. Beware of shops recommended by a ‘government official’, ‘student’, ‘businessperson’ or ‘tuk- tuk driver’ that start talking to you on the street. Remember that there are no government jewellery shops, no special government promotions or sales on gems. You will always pay much more than the gem is worth.
According to the World Health Organization, Thailand has one of the highest rates of road deaths, per capita, in the world. Most road traffic accidents in Thailand involve motorcycles (about 70% of all road deaths) as they are very common means of transport, but there are also accidents involving cars, coaches and mini-buses. Travelling at night is more risky – in June 2011, 3 British nationals travelling by coach were killed in an accident, in July 2012, 2, and in February 2013, 3 British nationals travelling by coach were injured.
Travellers are advised to avoid any contact with drugs. People found guilty of possessing marijuana may receive a long prison sentence and a high fine. Possession of amphetamines and ecstasy results in the same penalty as possession of heroin. Having 20 grams of them while leaving Thailand will probably result in death sentence. Several imprisoned Americans were arrested for trafficking illicit drugs.
You can import maximally 200 cigarettes per person into Thailand. Otherwise, there may be the fine ten times the value of the goods and the cigarettes may be confiscated.
Remember not to criticise or make slanderous comments about the King or any member of the Thai Royal family as the Thais hold their royal family in high regard. This offence is called Lèse Majesté and regarded a criminal offence – you can get a prison sentence of 3 to 15 years, or even longer.
Thai people are very friendly and polite, it is considered extremely bad manners to lose your temper or display frustration so it is advised to be patient and considerate when dealing with Thai nationals.
The Thai law requires that you always have your passport with you. When you do not have it when necessary, you can be arrested.
You should report any incidents of crime to the Thai police before leaving the country.
The main marinas in Thailand include:
Ao Po Grand Marina – at the gateway to Phang Nga Bay, on the north-east coast of Phuket; this is a modern marina with good facilities (pontoon access and transportation with golf buggies and hand trolleys); it can be approached at all tides and has 24-hour security as well as firefighting stations; when visiting the marina for the first time, it is recommended to stay east of Koh Naka Yai Island until you can head west for the entrance at the south-east corner of the marina; the minimum depth is from 3 metres on the inside of the marina to 7 metres on the seaward side of the outer docks
Krabi Boat Lagoon Marina – the first Krabi’s premier marina complex that ensures good shelter and a lot of services; it is the sister marina of the Phuket Boat Lagoon; it is close to the Krabi Airport and the wonderful islands of the Andaman Sea; it employs 24-hour security and has berths for up to 80 vessels, a 50 ton travel lift and a hard stand for up to 100 boats; its facilities include, among others, boat ramp, fork lift, electricity, water and fuel dock; the lowest tide depth is 1,5 meters
Ocean Marina – on the end of Jomtien beach, in the Province of Chonburi, nearby Bangkok; the marina is surrounded by mountains, beach and ocean; it accommodates vessels up to 60 metres long and has a Marine Travelift that can lift vessels up to 20 tonnes; indoor and outdoor storage facilities provide security; outside the marina there are two buoys leading to the marina entrance – during the day they are a green and a red buoy, at night – green and red lights that flash on for two seconds and off for one second
Phuket Boat Lagoon Marina – on the east coast of Phuket Island; it was the island’s first marina complex; the marina is well protected, has good facilities (e.g. 3 travel lifts, fork lift up to 7 tonnes, fuel delivery, accommodation, swimming pool, restaurant, supermarket), 20 dry stacks and hard standing for 140 boats and ensures 24-hour security
Royal Phuket Marina – along the centre of Phuket’s eastern seaboard, at the entrance of Phang Nga Bay; the marina offers berths for 81 vessels, hard standing for more than 35 vessels, forklift services, fuel dock, trolleys, haul out services, pressure wash service, service dock for temporary berthing, sewage pump out service and 24-hour security; there are also leisure and shopping facilities
Siam Royal Marina – on the northwest corner of Koh Chang, on the Klong Son River; the marina was opened in 2012 and has mooring for up to 75 boats (8-27 metres); the dry berth facilities offer hard stands for over 40 boats and dry stack storage for up to 48 boats (9,1 metres long); there are also 60 rack places for small boats; super yachts can use mooring services of the 110-metres private pier; the dry berth provides a trailer ramp and a fork lift
Yacht Haven Marina – in Laem Phrao on the north-east coast of the island; the minimum depth on approach at low tide is around 2,5 metres; it accommodates more than 200 vessels; it overlooks Phang Nga Bay; its facilities include, among others, electricity and water, fuel delivery, accommodation, swimming pool, restaurant and 24-hour security.
Travellers planning to visit Thailand should find out whether there are any health risks and what to pay attention to.
Hospitals and medication
First of all, you must remember that although the standard of private hospitals is high, they are expensive. Conditions in public hospitals, especially outside Bangkok and the islands, are not always good and you often have to pay in advance to receive help and treatment. It is very important to have appropriate health insurance and enough money to pay for medical assistance you may need.
Avoid buying medications of unknown origin on the street, without consulting a doctor because it can result in serious health problems.
Hot weather can be dangerous for as you can quickly lose body fluids through perspiration, which leads to dehydration. Drink a lot of water, but it is not advised to use tap water, buying bottled water is much safer. Beware of ice from street vendors as the source of water may not be hygienic.
Air pollution, particularly in March and April, can be a nuisance for people wh have breathing and chest problems or suffer from asthma.
There are many snakes in Thailand. Some of them are venomous, some are not. Nevertheless, it is safer to assume that all snakes are harmful and not to touch or try to catch them. While walking in the area where snakes are possible, wear boots and long trousers. Step onto fallen logs not over them. If you are bitten by a snake, wrap a bandage around your leg and seek medical assistance.
Too much exposure to the sun can result in sunburn. Limit your time spent in the sun, use high-factor sun cream, wear sunglasses and drink a lot of water.
Visitors often complain about diarrhoea. It can be caused by a new diet, food poisoning or even by eating too much chilli. Be careful what you eat and drink and wash your hands before eating.
In Thailand, mosquitoes are a big problem throughout a year, particularly during and just after the rainy season (June-October), in the early morning and late afternoon. There is a risk of catching dengue fever and Japanese B encephalitis. Dengue fever is a mosquito- borne disease caused by four different, but related, serotypes of the virus (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4). The symptoms of dengue fever include high temperature, headache, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle ache, metallic taste in the mouth, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Japanese B Encephalitis is another viral disease transmitted by the bite of an infected female culex mosquito. There are usually mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. In the case of severe disease, the symptoms are: fever, chills, headache, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, wear lightweight, light-coloured and baggy clothes, use mosquito repellents, close windows and doors during morning and evening hours and sleep under mosquito netting.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
Another health threat is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD). This is a contagious viral illness caused by different viruses. HFMD mostly affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, people of any age can be infected. The initial symptoms are usually fever, reduced appetite, sore throat and a feeling of being unwell. A day or two days later painful sores can develop in the mouth, itchy skin rash with flat red spots on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, the knees, elbows and buttocks may occur. To reduce the risk of being infected, follow good hygiene practice and often wash your hands. On 29 July 2014, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) reported that the number of patients infected with HFMD have doubled since last year. 85% of the patients were children under age 5. Dr Wongwat Liewlak, director of the Communicable Disease Control Division in the BMA Department of Health said the number of infected people in Bangkok is 4,695 (from the beginning of the year until July).
A common disease in Thailand is rabies, i.e. a virus transmitted in the saliva of infected animals through bites or licking open cuts and wounds. Early symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, itching or burning around the wound, tiredness, sore throat and increased saliva. Try not to approach dogs, cat and other animals.
A viral disease of the liver, transmitted through eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea and stomach pain. A good way of prevention is vaccination. Moreover, avoid contact with people who may be infected.
A viral disease of the liver, transmitted via blood, blood products or bodily fluids. Vaccination is recommended for people who may be exposed to the disease through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing or acupuncture.
Caused by a bacteria found in contaminated food and water. Symptoms include high fever, headache, dry cough and stomach pain. If you are going to spend more than a week in Thailand, it is advised to consider vaccination and be careful what you eat and drink.
For more local information and a yachting report, please read the full report here.