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The Commander of the Royal Thai Navy’s Third Area Command has denied allegations that navy personnel have been collecting money from beach encroachers, offering in return to protect them from the authorities.
“I have heard a lot of allegations that navy [personnel] are collecting money from beach encroachers or business operators,” Vice-Admiral Sayan Prasongsamrej said yesterday afternoon (November 27).
“I want to stress that no personnel from the Royal Thai Navy’s Third Area Command are doing anything like that. We are not involved.
“If you have any photographs or evidence identifying anyone who is collecting money – or you have any other suggestion about this – please contact me directly at my office at Cape Panwa” he added.
“The Navy’s Third Area Command now has sole responsibility for Phuket. No other arm of the military has responsibility,” he stated.
“Even if you have paid, other arms of the military cannot protect you from [punishment for] any illegal action you take. Phuket is our area, so how can they help?” he asked.
He also showed reporters how Navy uniforms differ from other services, using three of his men as models.
“Although the [camouflaged] uniforms are generally similar, there are two differences: the cap and the wording on the shirt pocket.
“We have a different style of cap from any of the other branches of the armed forces,” Vice Admiral Sayan explained. No other branch of the armed forces wears a similar patrol cap.
The camouflage uniforms worn by the Navy also have the name of the naval unit stitched onto the left breast pocket, with the individual’s named stitched above, he explained.
Copies of Navy uniforms can easily be found and bought on the Internet or from specialist shops in Bangkok.
The admiral’s point about responsibility for Phuket may be seen by some as a shot across the bows of Army troops who recently became involved in a dispute over illegal restaurants at Nai Yang Beach.