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Consul warns Aussies of Thai ‘rape and theft’ party drug

September 20, 2013 Destination Thailand, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Australia’s Honorary Consul in Phuket for the past eight years, Larry Cunningham, has warned young Australians partying on beaches in southern Thailand that their drinks may be spiked with a psychoactive drug made from the leaves of the kratom tree.

Criminals, including rapists and thieves, are preying on victims of kratom intoxication, Cunningham said.

Cunningham will step down from his position on 30 September 2013, largely because he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren in Australia, though he will still spend much time in Phuket.

He told Fairfax media about the drug kratom, which he said was often mixed with the insect repellent DEET, along with cough medicine, cola and ice, leaving users in a stupefied and vulnerable state.

Kratom is a tropical tree in the coffee family (Rubiaceae) native to Southeast Asia. One variety of EGT_Artical Banner A 250x250the tree, indigenous to Thailand, has been outlawed in Thailand for 70 years. According to Wikipedia, it was originally banned because it was reducing the Thai government’s tax revenue from opium distribution.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Thai Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri has proposed legalising kratom, saying people might prefer it to deadlier drugs such as methamphetamine.

Cunningham said young Australians would be wise to avoid Phuket beach parties, which he said can lead to rapes, assaults and thefts, many not reported to police.

He said some of Thailand’s worst criminals, “rapists, murderers and thieves” among them, preyed on young Australians and other foreigners at parties like those on the island of Koh Phangan.

Koh Phangan is set to be connected directly by air to Bangkok and the Thai mainland for the first time next year, bringing the prospect of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) full moon parties from Bangkok closer.

Thai entrepreneur Somphong Sooksanguan plans to open an airport on the island in a year’s time, the Bangkok Post reports. The 46-yar-old businessman foresees Koh Phangan airport having a 1100-metre runway and being served by Kan Air with leased turboprop aircraft including the ATR 42, capable of carrying 50 passengers, from Bangkok.

In Koh Phangan or elsewhere, young Australians “shouldn’t leave their brains behind” when they visit Thailand, Cunningham said.

Australia’s Ambassador to Thailand, James Wise, said Australia “could not have wished for a more committed and energetic honorary consul” than Cunningham.

Wise praised Cunningham’s efforts to improve the safety and wellbeing of all tourists in Phuket, not just Australians.

“Mr Cunningham is an enthusiastic advocate for Phuket,” he told the Phuket News.

“He knows that Phuket will prosper only if tourists and residents continue to feel safe and welcomed there. He has worked tirelessly to draw to the attention of authorities any issues of concern.”

Written by : Peter Needham

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