Connect with us

Business

Phuket Business: Identifying island identity

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: The American Chamber of Commerce teamed up with the Phuket PR Network to present a fascinating and most entertaining culture-preservation lesson recently in Phuket Town.

Held at the Blue Elephant restaurant in the heart of historic old-town, the evening was headlined by two heritage preservation experts, who gave captivating lectures about the importance of Phuket’s cultural past, present and future.

The first speaker, Dr Yongtanit Pimonsathean, a distinguished architecture and planning lecturer from Thammasat University, shared his knowledge and insight about the origins and evolution of Phuket’s Chinese-European architectural identity.

A specialist in urban environmental planning and development, Dr Yongtanit is recognized for his research and preservation contributions in a vast number of cultural and heritage restoration projects throughout Thailand and Southeast Asia.

With concise chronological delivery, Dr Yongtanit highlighted significant influences on Phuket’s architecture throughout the last five centuries, from first exposure to European influence with the landing of Portuguese explorers in the 16th century to present-day Tha Reua in Thalang, to the Sino-Siamese settlements established in Thalang, which later migrated inland to the less militarily vulnerable Kathu.

Dr Yongtanit shared his interpretation about how Malayan influences entered the mix, triggered by transoceanic intermarriage by statesmen, a defining catalyst for the identity of Phuket’s “Peranakan” group.

Simplified locally as ‘Ba Ba – Ya Ya‘, the mixed Chinese-Thai-Malay group thrived in Kathu, where a lot of the early and more traditional architectural styles can still be found today.

The center of that population ultimately migrated to present-day Phuket Town, which became the center of thriving commerce.

The professor highlighted how socioeconomic evolution was reflected in the development of architectural styles, pointing out how as each generation got richer, the styles got more intricate.

Dr Yongtanit’s speech was followed by a lively and enthralling presentation by well known Associate Professor Pranee Sakulpipatana, who is also president of the Phuket Community Foundation and vice president of the Thai Peranakan Association.

Prof Pranee teased the crowd with her quick and easy shift to Southern Thai dialect, which she cited as one of the key defining points in the culture under discussion.

“The main and most obvious difference between the Phuket Peranakan and those in Malaysia and Singapore is language. Thai is our mother tongue, for which we owe a lot to General Pi [Field Marshall Piboon Songkran] who made it a strict directive in reaction to a threat of Communism during that time [mid 20th century],” she declared in perfect English.

Effectively using colorful visual aides, Ms Pranee invited a lineup of traditionally-dressed ‘Ya Ya‘ ladies – spanning at least three generations, pointing out distinct variations in the bespoke Phuket dress designs of her models.

“In the old days, we didn’t have banks to put all our money in, so we put it on our bodies and clothes as jewelry and decoration.”

Wooing the assembled crowd with effusive humor, Prof Pranee explained that the Ya Ya Phuket ladies on show were all missing one important key ornament.

“The real Phuket lady will also have a set of keys hanging from her hips…. This says [to her husband], ‘So what if you love another woman; I’ve got the keys’.”

Ending her speech on a great note, Ms Pranee powerfully demonstrated the most important defining point of the Thai-Perankan identity.

“Ever since I was a young girl, this song has continued to remind me of who I am,” she explained before majestically filling the hall with a local variation of the Sunsern Phra Baramee tribute song to the Thai Monarch, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

She was given a standing ovation.

Though Ms Pranee’s and Mr Yongtanit’s speeches focused mostly on Phuket Peranakan roots, Dr Yongtanit earlier told the Gazette that in fact Phuket heritage and the preservation thereof “was not, is not and should not be” limited to this single group: “When I first was asked to come to Phuket [to lecture about cultural preservation] 18 years ago, there were a lot more Southern Siamese style homes – elevated wooden houses with thatched roofing. They have now become a rare site on Phuket. It’s unfortunate, because this is only one example of all the distinct trademarks Phuket has had to offer from a rich past, but have already started to fade.”

Dr Yongtanit stressed the importance of a ‘ground up’ grass roots approach.

“It’s got to come from the local people first. If you wait for outsiders – whether the government, foreign powers, or anyone else who doesn’t consider Phuket ‘home’ – to initiate this, the cause will be lost and the direction will remain unclear.”

The meeting was the fourth in an ongoing ‘Brand Phuket’ awareness series, held since late last year. Previous meetings covered the need for a clear and consistent brand-marketing voice; the potential and lucrativeness of sports tourism, and the significance of ‘green tourism practices’.

— Steven Layne

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)60 mins ago

Kanchanaburi prison field hospital for 379 Covid-19 cases

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Covid-19 train sends 1,490 infected from Bangkok to hometowns

Thailand4 hours ago

Covid-19 Poll: People trust doctors, social media, 85% confused.

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

Record high as Chon Buri hits nearly 800 Covid-19 infections

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

Covid outbreak closes Nakhon Si Thammarat rubberwood processing factory

Thailand8 hours ago

Nearly 600 temples now offering free cremation services

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand9 hours ago

Phetchabun chicken processing plant sees over 3,000 infections

Phuket9 hours ago

New Covid-19 infections drop, still worrisome for Phuket Sandbox

Phuket9 hours ago

Phuket “car mob” protest demands the removal of PM, calls for mRNA vaccines

Thailand10 hours ago

Samut Sakhon Governor Veerasak offers to resign if communication in his province doesn’t improve

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Sunday Covid Update: 15,335 new cases; provincial totals

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Covid UPDATE: 15,335 new infections, provincial numbers

Coronavirus Infections10 hours ago

DDC says infections still rising, possibly falling in Bangkok

Coronavirus (Covid-19)12 hours ago

DDC says use the QueQ app to book appointment at sports stadium in Pathum Thani

Business12 hours ago

Inside story behind the Thailand property seachange

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending