Thai Authorities Upset with Documentary

Pattaya Jet Skis

Thai authorities are finally speaking up well over a week after the first airing of Big Trouble in Thailand on the Bravo channel in Britain. While there has been a huge buzz on the internet by those who write about or talk about Thailand there has been little to no interest outside those circles. Apparently only 113,000 viewers even saw the first episode on the Bravo channel.

While the internet Thailand community discussed and scrutinized the footage for it’s reality TV feel and possible staged events,  the Thai authorities have taken it to a new level. Some Thai Authorities are claiming that the video footage was made solely to damage Thailand’s tourism industry. Phuket governor Wichai Praisa-ngob went as far to say that the footage might have been made by someone that stood to benefit from Thailand tourism getting worse.

While I agree that the documentary is nothing more than sensational reality TV crap I hardly think anyone was looking to torpedo Thailand tourism.

Pol Lt Gen Santhan claims that the way the footage was edited suggested a set up. The Jet Ski incident clearly looked staged but the release of some of the raw footage clears up some of the awful editing done to make the show seem more intense and gritty. Although we’re still awaiting the release of the raw footage pertaining to the gun. You can read more about this in Phucket Jet Ski Operator Blames Film Makers & I apologise to the Thai people but blame the film-makers – JJ (updated).

Pol Lt Gen Santhan also claimed that the documentary had been edited to tarnish Thailand’s image as well as the image of the Tourist police. While I agree that the editing was awful and sensationalistic,  I don’t think the intent was to tarnish Thailand but to draw in young viewers for what they hoped was a cool new cop show.

One would hope that the Thai authorities would see this program as an opportunity to clean up some of the problems they have in the tourist industry such as the jet ski scams. While Phuket governor Wichai Praisa-ngob is cracking down on jet ski operators in Phuket by demanding that they self insure, I have yet to hear of any other beach province taking such measures.

While authorities should be taking this time to look into the real problems facing the tourist industry they are too busy stomping their feet and looking to investigate those involved in the production. They should leave the investigations to the online Thailand community because it’s been doing quite well in that regard.  Eventually the dust will settle down and the documentary will be old news, Lets hope the same can be said for the scams and payoffs that plague Thailand’s tourist industry.

With the economy still down and the tourist industry bleeding the documentary couldn’t have come at a worse time for Thailand. Luckily the majority of viewers were people already interested in Thailand who were watching to see the place they miss or love. The show itself won’t take off anyway with leading men like Howard Miller in the new Kojak role, but I do have to say it has a chance if Tourist police volunteer Noi gets into more action…she’s a cutie.

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Comment by AndyNo Gravatar
2009-09-17 03:55:34

Seems like once again it has a Streisand effect brewing. With the authorities crying for foul play and even trying to persecute the film-makers they will only give this low-budget production way too much attention, and now more people will see it and talk about it than ever would if they just quietly do their homework – make sure that those issues where Thailand looks bad in this documentary are handled, like finally stopping these scams. The jet ski scam has been long known before this production but no-one bothered to do anything, maybe the scammers bribed the right persons to be able to continue their “business” unharmed. Or take the airport taxi scams – AFAIK still operating despite the crackdown announced. Or how come those scammers at Wat Phra Kaeo can annoy tourists with their “temple closed today, I bring you to big buddha temple” all the time, without anyone ever doing anything.
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Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-09-17 22:20:13

It would be nice if they would start cracking down on all these scams. They will never get rid of all of them and new ones will pop up but at least they will be trying to meet the challenge.

Hopefully they won’t just point fingers.

Comment by Ben ShingletonNo Gravatar
2009-09-17 22:15:06

I used to watch all the Bravo docs when in the UK. I liked them, even though they are definitely ‘trash’ TV. I’m pretty defensive when it comes to Thailand, so I’m not keen on this kind of ‘documentary’ coming over and doing the same type of programme about Thailand. You can be certain that they will only want to focus largely on ‘negative’ things and will largely sensationalise scenes with editing…. I have no doubt that TV crews will also do whatever is necessary to propogate such situations to make such a programme.

In the end it can only do (limited) harm to the Thai tourist industry, by far the worse thing is this type of programme will attract the wrong type of people (ie drunken British idiots)
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Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-09-17 22:22:02

I agree that it will only do limited if any harm to the tourist industry Ben. Unfortunately with the tact that the Thai film board will probably take it will make it that much harder for a decent documentary to be made in Thailand.

Comment by CatherineNo Gravatar Subscribed to comments via email
2009-09-18 02:06:36

I can only shake my head at Thailand’s response.

They’ve decided to prosecute the guy who made the video?

…the Big Trouble In Thailand series, which has been a big hit on YouTube, had violated Article 34 of the motion picture law by not having the contents examined by a Tourism and Sports Ministry film committee before they were broadcast abroad.

Seksan Nakawong, director-general of the Office of Tourism Development, said the film-makers also violated Article 23 of the same law for making a film tarnishing the reputation of Thailand.

So the Tourist Police chief is not tarnishing the reputation of Thailand?…

Tourist Police chief Adis Ngamjitsuksri has conceded the extortion of tourists was a problem which the police alone could not stamp out.

He said the extortion gangs, including those in tourist provinces, worked under highly influential people.
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Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-09-18 02:48:20

If they do prosecute him nothing will most likely come of it. The real big problem is going to be when it comes to any future filming in Thailand.

They need someone to point the finger at and try to sa=ve face…the problem is that only the Thai’s will see this as ok while the outside world condemns it.

Just another thing that the Thai’s have handled badly.

One thing I am still wandering about though is the missing raw footage of JJ the jet ski operator with the gun…it still hasn’t been released.

Comment by JordanNo Gravatar
2009-09-19 02:39:56

I agree Noi is a cutie lol

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