Today my friends at Phuketwan are reporting that all jet-skis in Patong Beach are now insured. This is now perhaps the time to put the lid on an incident in June this year involving a row over a damaged jet ski, British Royal Marines, and a payment of 35,000 Thai baht. etc.... and reveal the truth.
The series producer of 'Big Trouble in Thailand' Gavin Hill was not present for the edit in London and as such he appears to have been unable to stop some sharp editing during the jet ski scene in which some audio was pulled in from elsewhere to apparently make the scene look more dramatic.
The film, showing on the minority Bravo channel in the UK with just some 100,000 plus viewers, has apparently caused quite some controversy including threats to arrest the Thai fixers and a meeting between the London producers and the Thai Ambassador in London.
Actually personally I found it quite a true reflection on life in certain tourist areas in Thailand though of course it cannot speak from a very high moral plain because of some careless edits, and all the bells, whistles, repetitions, clanging prison doors etc. Lets face it its a film for chavs but it has entertained many of us especially as the chav narrator kept going on about Foo-ket and Patt-aye-ya.
As no foreigner is going to apologise for the jet ski stuff I now take it upon myself to apportion blame where of course it is truly deserved and apologise on everyone's behalf.
As a journalist based in Thailand I feel it is my duty to apologise for the wrong assumptions and unfair media treatment Thailand received this year over an incident involving a 'damaged' jet-ski, the Royal Marines and a very respectable businessmen called JJ.
Contrary to reports overseas, the jet ski hirer Marine Jack Tebbott, 21, was in fact so mortified about damaging the jet ski in question that he walked three miles to the jet-ski owners private premises to apologise and was not, as some reports suggest, taken there against his own will.
In addition he called his friends in the Royal Marines to help him with the apology as he thought a group apology would be better and carry far more weight.
He admitted many times that he was guilty even though he rather thought, that as the damage was to the side of the boat, his left leg might have noticed.
He even called in his boss in the Marine Police, Sergeant Tim Wright to apologise too.
The man known as JJ had described on camera how he dealt with foreigners who did not pay up. But this gesture of slapping his fist into his hand could not in any way be interpreted as an indication of physical violence. In any case knowing how journalists operate it was probably taken from his cookery programme in which he demonstrates how to grind spices for tom yam kung.
Indeed it is quite clear from the documentary 'Big Trouble in Thailand', that footage which showed Marines and JJ laughing and joking and making small talk was in fact substituted with audio suggesting that they were alarmed when JJ produced what was obviously a toy gun. What pussycats! Further what was not explained in the programme is that JJ said that his bosses do not like him using guns as they are the guys who actually do.
Clearly the sound track which was not translated for the British audience, and which appeared to show JJ saying to himself : 'These motherfuckers not (going to) mess with me' must have come from a totally different incident , also his reference to the Marines as 'mun' (jerks in this context).
There clearly is a cut in the film during the gun scene which makes things suspicious. I am sure it cannot be because of the feeble excuse that JJ told the crew not to film either of the other two guns in his armoury.
There is of course a sequence which shows some swearing between the Marine Police Sergeant and JJ. This friendly banter has of course been wildly distorted.
There was a sequence in the film which also shows JJ saying that if the stain on the fibre glass is brown - then the damage is old.
Sergeant Wright pointed out that the stain in this case was also brown. But it was decided by mutual agreement that in this case the brown meant that it was new damage.
Marine Jack was more than happy to pay out 35,000 Thai baht in damages and Tim and JJ were so happy that they settled in a spirit of warm conviviality and can clearly be seen shaking hands.
In fact one Marine was so deliriously happy that he had to be held back by his comrades from giving JJ a Glasgow kiss.
Marine Sergeant Wright is not as JJ says, his father, pa, or dad, and JJ is indeed a normal person and a businessman. I am also appalled at the cutaways to JJ's colleagues covered all over with tattoos and being made to look menacing. So why did the filmmakers not give them the opportunity to look as smart as Sergeant Wright?But no! These film companies, who are obviously out to trash Thailand, do not show these sort of things do they! Good news is not news is it!
Two policemen arrived at the same time as Sergeant Tim Wright and of course had anything untoward happened they would have done something.
In fact when JJ is negotiating he says his uncle is the local police chief, showing that he is indeed an upstanding citizen, I believe they even joined in a chorus together with Marine Jack in: 'We are men. We are men. We are not ladyboys. We are not katoeys. We don't run.'
To be quite frank, as Sergeant Wright has pointed out, Royal Marines were involved in five other jet ski incidents in June in two days in Patong Beach, Phuket, and had to pay damages on each occasion.
This quite clearly shows that these guys know nothing at all about boats and watercraft. They should not be allowed out to sea at all!
Sergeant Wright is mistaken when he refers accidentally to the jet ski operator as a 'two bit low-life'. Either that or this was taken from another section when he was talking about the cameraman.
May I take this opportunity to also apologise for the outrageous slur made against the police in Koh Phangan who it was alleged ( well it was not, but the Police Chief in Koh Phagnan says it was) profiteered monthly from the drugs arrests at the Full Moon Parties. These people are disrespecting Thai culture by bringing their drugs culture to this small island. It is up to the Thai police to use the full powers of the law to eradicate this problem. Nevertheless people have been treated with leniency and mercy. I would like to point out the girl in question got bail ( as they always do) and went to court (as everybody does) and received due justice and mercy in Thailand. This had nothing to do with the cameras being present. It would be outrageous to suggest that all the other people paid themselves off with figures up to and over 60,000 baht on pain of going to jail, and this was the only druggie the filmmaker could find, who had to go through the process as she could not scrape the bribe together.
Acknowledgement: With thanks to the painstaking research by Talen and Thailandlandofsmiles.com
However it appears that neither Marine Sergeant Tim Page nor Gavin Hill agree with my researcher Talen, who has been digging deep from his huts in Nakon Phanom and Mukdahan and I suppose in the interests of fairness I have to reprint these letters to him.
Police did 'sweet fanny Adam'
From Marine Police Sergeant Tim Wright, 40 Commando, Taunton, Somerset
I have just found this site (www.thailandlandofsmiles.com) and as you seem to have taken an aversion to my methods let me put you in the picture about the incident, which I see Gavin Hill has already commented on.
I was called to the scene, one of numerous similar incidents I had been called to that week, and had been informed that a gun had been pulled on a group of Royal Marines by a local 'business man'! It was not my intent on arrival at a scene to allow that weapon or any other to be drawn again. As for not calling the local police, they were there, I didn't have to, my Thai colleagues had called them and they sat around doing nothing, just waiting for the money to be handed over and for us to leave. If the lad had not already made a deal with JJ, I would have removed them from the scene and told him to take him to court. He would not have done because he knew it was a scam.
This onging corruption and criminality spoils a beautiful country and a very generous and loving people. I saw many tourists being scammed by the jet ski hire people, it is something I would warn anybody visiting Thailand against doing, along with motorbike hire, drugs and ladyboys.
The whole visit to Phuket was marred for many of the young me and women I was policing by such scams, and it would be far more productive for you to try and remove that blight from your golden beaches than to insult law abiding tourists who bring much needed foreign currency to your country.
I am an honourable man and I would like an apology for your comments about me. To insult me as you have and caste doubts as to my character and professionalism deeply saddens me I can only hope you never fall foul of a similar con.
And this from Gavin Hill, formerly of Bravo Productions
Hi Talen -
So, you cracked the case hey? Solved the mystery?
With quite a bit of help along the way from the trustyswordoftruth it would appear
Mike's correct in saying neither Tim nor I needed to respond to you, and I think you have been unnecessarily adversarial and impolite, given our contribution to your blog.
I think you have been confused as to who the 'enemy' is at times.
You do owe Tim an apology. He was acting in the very best interests of his men and very bravely. Some of your comments do suggest naivete as to the way things work on the ground in situations like this - in Thailand and many other places too for that matter.
I know you'll get very defensive about this, but it would be magnanimous of you if you did.
Vera Productions are threatening to sue - they don't like the release of any footage which shows how they doctored sound which contributed to a man's arrest and imprisonment.
Now, whoever uploaded that video to You Tube did so in the public interest - because I would imagine they believe in professionalism, balance and fairness, that factual entertainment shouldn't be at the expense of factual accuracy.
I would imagine they also believe that their credibility and that of the series is compromised by factual inaccuracy, attempts at fabrication, misleading information (288 Brits 'killed' last year in Thailand) and the unnecessary dramatisation of very real events, such as JJ and the Marines. Mispronunciation of place names is just pathetic.
But I expect they felt powerless to do anything about it in the face of rampant sensationalism, disregard for old fashioned journalistic values and threatened legal might.
The fact remains, however it was (mis)represented by Vera Productions/Virgin Media, that JJ introduced a gun into a very tense situation (the audio over the gun shots came from a scuffle between JJ and one of the Marines that wasn't cut into the broadcast programme, but should have been). The gun was threatening, although I don't believe the line of v/o should have said that.
As the creator, producer, director and cameraman of 'Big Trouble In Thailand' but with little or no input into the editing process my misgivings, or should I say fury, began when Virgin Media at the last minute changed the working title 'Thai Cops' to 'Big Trouble In Tourist Thailand'. I complained - in the strongest possible terms - that this would be a slap in the face of the Thai authorities who so kindly gave me such unrivaled and unique access. If I'd said we were making 'Big Trouble In Tourist Thailand' I seriously doubt we would have been permitted to do what we did. Had the title not been so provocative - personally I saw it as an attack on Thailand's tourism industry - and had the JJ scenes been edited in a more balanced manner (as had been the case in the rough cut I was sent to look at) then I think the series would have received less adverse attention and certainly attracted less controversy. I might not be facing arrest and imprisonment there. After all, it is only a very minor series being watched largely by young males who amount to the population of a small english town - at most.
But ... yes, then there is You Tube which does make a difference these days.
But people have got a bit carried away nevertheless.
Me? I'm just a stickler for truth insofar as it's possible to tell it, and getting the balance right. Thai Cops was also my idea and it had enormous potential. It was a tricky proposition, I'll admit, but everything was going swimmingly until the content we'd gathered in the field was handed over to Vera Productions in London. Everyone was on board - from JJ and the Marines to the Thai police and prison authorities.
Regardless of what anyone might think of JJ, there was absolutely no justification for faking the audio.
Though I was not responsible for doing so, I do apologise to the viewers that my idea for a highly-watchable Thai police series came to this.
I think it's about time that reality TV got its house in order and production companies opened a dictionary and looked up the world 'integrity'. This way we who work in the industry, in this genre, can hold our heads high in the knowledge we're not disrespecting the TV viewer who would, I'm sure, like to believe that reality TV can either be trusted, or if not, carry a warning in the way cigarette packets do - along the lines of your summation Talen ... don't believe all you see or hear.
So the truth was out there, wasn't it?
Talen at ThailandLandof Smiles has as usual demanded the last word.
So you, tabloid scum, think you are a journalist, Tim thinks he is something big in the military and Gavin thinks he is some swanky film producer. You can all argue until to are blue in the face but I can tell you I work on facts gleaned from some 150 hours watching and re-watching the videos, and by nicking stuff off other blogs and quoting them out of context to make my site look better!
You tell you I know nothing, but let me tell You I know f*ck all! Did you like my blog on Mukdahan by the way. Freudian eh. Me pretending to look for a whore but only finding this woman's luscious dim sum. Bet that had you in a sweat! (enough now Ed).