Phuket beach clean-up 90% complete
Ninety per cent of the clearance of the island’s beaches is now complete. The remaining 10 per cent is going through the courts.
This was one of the messages at a press conference staged on Saturday (August 23) at the Royal Thai Navy Third Fleet base on Cape Panwa.
It was a high-level meeting that included Phuket Governor Maitri Intisut, Vice-Governor Jamroen Thippayapongtada, heads of various local councils (including Thawee Tongchaem, currently facing a date with the court on charges related to taxi mafia activities in Kata-Karon), Airport Director Prateuang Sornkham, Damrongtham Centre director Prapan Kanprasang, Pol Maj Gen Paween Pongsirin (who arranged Mr Thawee’s arrest), and others.
Preparation was meticulous, with all officials required to leave phones and guns outside the room and chairs labeled with names so that everyone sat in the correct place.
Gov Maitri began the proceedings with a rundown of actions and progress so far.
“The main issues are regulation of taxis, which will start on September 1 with conversion of all irregular taxis to meter taxis; continuing clearing of beaches, which people are happy with, and which is 90 per cent complete (the other 10 per cent is going through the courts); continuing with our drive against narcotics; decreasing the road accident rate; and reducing garbage. We are also working on other land issues.
“Anyone who has comments or opinions can give them to the Damrongtham Centre.
“Next, we will check all structures to see whether the owners have been paying their taxes correctly.”
Asked how many people had been adversely affected by the beach clearances, he replied, “Cherng Talay, Patong, Karon and Kata are the main areas where people have been affected. For example, in the Patong area there are 62 sun bed operators, 192 masseuses, and 92 small vendors.”
He added “We will manage things so that they have an area to work in legally, but we have to check supply and demand so that these people can make a living.”
Army Lt Gen Walit Rojanaphakdee, dressed casually in white shirt and dark trousers, told the press, “For us, people come first, but everything must be done according to the rules.
Asked when the action on land grabbing would finally see action taken against “influential” figures, the general said, “It depends on the law. If they have been breaking the law, they will get their just desserts.
“We will solve the problem of influential people making money off the backs of the ordinary man in the street.”
Referring to theft of state land, he pointed out, “Forests are important. Without them, there are floods when it rains and water shortages when it does not rain.”
Asked how anyone could be sure that beaches would not again be invaded after they have been cleared – as they were after the tsunami of 10 years ago – he replied, “We are focusing on getting all officials to work according to the rules.
“They must be responsible in the way they perform their duty. Then we can focus on how we can get citizens to trust officials.”
Asked how many cases are expected to be tried by military courts, Gen Walit said, “Military courts will be used in some cases only. Generally the civilian court system will handle cases.”
At this point the press conference was closed.