Just two days after being summoned by police, arrested and charged, the two western men must now face the collapse of their life in Thailand. The pair made an underwater video and posted it online to entertain and showcase the marine life off Ko Phangan. However, to Thai audiences and locals on the island, it was seen as a violation of the country’s ecological heritage and provoked online fury at an ‘ugly’ video.
A fun and enthusiastic underwater dive filmed by a pair of European diving enthusiasts, living and working on Ko Phangan, saw their life on the idyllic Thai island brought to a full stop on Thursday following their arrest on Tuesday at the local police station. Hungarian Atilla Ott and Italian Francesco Simonetti will now face immediate deportation after the Surat Thani Immigration Bureau confirmed that it was revoking their visas and expelling them from Thailand. The pair had encroached on a protected area under the sea and played with some of the creatures for an online audience, many of whom in Thailand, were not amused,
There has been devastating news for the two foreigners whose diving video this week landed them in hot water and led to their arrest on Tuesday morning.
The men were seen in the video (see below) showing the exotic creatures and life that lies at the bottom of the sea in an environmental protection zone of the idyllic island of Ko Phangan.
Video drew the ire and powerful influence of the minister responsible who came down hard
Their video went viral when a local conservationist objected to their online entertainment production and called on such activity to stop. The viral reaction soon drew in Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Varawut Silpa-archa, who ordered robust action against them
The local man, Sitthiroj Kaewnongsamed, a Ko Phangan resident described the video as ‘ugly’ and also told his online audience that it was not the first time that one of the western men had indulged in such pursuits.
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Visas revoked by the Immigration Bureau followed by immediate deportation from Thailand
The two men, named as Hungarian Atilla Ott and Italian Francesco Simonetti, on Thursday, learned through the media that their visas and permission to remain on the island, where they work and live, has been revoked by the Surat Thani Immigration Bureau.
The move is being made under the Immigration Act which allows that any person charged with an offence can be immediately deported from the kingdom if the bureau deems them to be harmful to the public good.
The pair will now be deported from Thailand.
The Immigration Bureau quoted the case brought against them on Tuesday for causing harm or damage to underwater sea life.
Surat Thai Immigration boss asked local people to use a hotline to report further incidents
The move against the two foreigners, one who owns a restaurant and diving business, the other who was a lead chef in a restaurant, was confirmed on Thursday by Deputy Commander Major General Suparuek Pankosol of Surat Thani Immigration Bureau.
The Immigration Bureau commander also emphasised to the general public in the region to feel free to use the agency’s hotline to report any such activity or wrongdoing to the 1178 number which is normally used to report suspicious foreigners without the appropriate visa or work permit in the area.
The harsh official response to the pair has been welcomed by many Thai people online who were outraged at the video which was seen as an attack on Thailand’s environmental heritage.
The pair offended the people of Surat Thani who love ‘animals, nature and marine resources’
On Thursday, the Immigration Bureau chief was highly critical of the two men who, he said, had offended Thai people and, in particular, the people of Surat Thani province by their public actions.
He noted that the people of Surat Thani love ‘animals, nature and marine resources’.
Both men are reported to be long term residents. One is married with a family and significant business on the island while both are living there on a long stay basis.
‘An expensive lesson’ for the two European men was how the Deputy Director of the Immigration Bureau Civil Service, Pakpong Saibol, described the story.
He confirmed that their visas were being revoked and that they would be deported forthwith.