Well here’s another Thai deja vue story. ‘JJ’ Naiman, the Phuket Jet Ski cowboy, is now reported by the Phuket Wan to have ripped off a bunch of Malaysian holidaymakers, mainly old school pals, who had to fork out US$900 for apparently getting two of their jet skis waterlogged in Phuket.
And now fresh from his role ripping off assorted western navies we bring you the return of JJ Naiman to screw up your Thai holiday
JJ Naiman? Or should it be Alfred E Neuman as this is all a bit of a joke now?
Readers here were first brought to the attention of ‘JJ’ when he scammed first a group of British Royal Marines and then a group of US Marines on ‘R & R’ in Phuket while being filmed by programme makers making the ‘Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand’ series for Bravo Television in the UK.
Royal Marine Police Sergeant Tim Wright and ‘JJ’. Who do you believe?
The story went national and ‘JJ’ was on a roller coaster of fame. Then in true local fashion the programme makers were duly hounded and threatened with prosecution for sending film out of the country which had not been passed by the film board.
The film makers were also accused of stunting up an incident in which he brought out a gun on the British Marines.
JJ’s gun but the big guys have better
The incident was indeed stunted in so far as the editors in London moved sound and vision clips around, and added a few dramatic drum rolls, but the Royal Marines certainly took the incident as a threat and even went on camera describing Patong Beach as basically ‘rip-offs ville’ with incidents of scamming by all and sundry persons.
Anyway Channel 3 took up the issue and invited ‘JJ’ on to their show and soon a poll of Thais revealed that some 67 per cent were on JJ’s side contributing greatly to the paranoia of some foreigners who believe their raison d’?tre in Thailand is to be ripped off.
Then in stepped Phuket’s Governor, who ordered all jet ski owners to get insurance so the rip offs would stop. All hunky dory? Well not exactly.
Actually technically these are not just scams. These are incidents of demanding money with menaces, in other words extortion. In other countries one goes to jail.
I am in touch with the Malaysian group pictured above and below. So what was the threat? Well, according to their spokesman Derrick, ‘JJ’ advised them how short life was and if they did not pay up ‘You would not know what was happening to you’ which rather suggests vengeance would be short and sweet.
Would the Thai authorities be doing something about it? asked Derrick. Like ’round up the usual suspects?’
JJ has a nice turn of ‘western patois’ derived from his absent Dutch father, years as a beach boy, and a mate from ‘Sarf London’.
Jet ski rip off. Innocents abroad. How to ruin people’s holidays and destroy your own country’s reputation
What however ‘Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand’ did not broadcast however was a fuller interview with ‘JJ’ in which he talked about his mafia bosses, who do not have accounts at the Lloyds Register of Shipping.
After demonstrating what he himself did to tourists who did not cough up, by slapping his right fist into his open left palm, JJ went on to say that his ‘big bosses’ would come down if there were real problems and if you thought his gun just went ‘pop! pop!’ then they had serious armament.
They owned the jet-skis and they called the shots. The police were in on it and took the commission.
Actually I have always thought these facts were pretty obvious from day one. Even a tourist police chief appeared to confirm this to the Bangkok Post at the time the film crews were being hounded.
‘Tourist Police chief Adis Ngamjitsuksri has conceded the extortion of tourists was a problem which the police alone could not stamp out. (Bangkok Post September 18 2009)
He said the extortion gangs, including those in tourist provinces, worked under highly influential people’.
Years ago on Phuket I hired a fast boat at US$1,400 a day. At the end of the day I asked them to drop me off on the beach by the Laguna resort which we were passing, rather than have to go half way round the island to the marina.
‘No way’ said the Captain. ‘We cannot drop people there. We will have trouble with the mafia’.
So I got home two hours later then I could have.
So there you have it. If you hire a jet ski in Patong Beach, Phuket, there will be a high chance you are paying the mafia. Very bad reports coming in from Chawaeng on Koh Samui too.
Unfortunately of course, many of you will be reading this belatedly.