A restaurant manager confessed to using public spaces at Na Jomtien Beach in Pattaya without permission to provide seating for their customers.
Facebook page, PattayaWatchdog, posted a picture of nearly 30 tables on the beach, complete with decorative lamps to create an ideal romantic dinner setting.
The caption said…
“This is Na Jomtien Beach under the care of the Na Jomtien Municipality Office. Are the government extending the beach for a restaurant?”
Thai netizens accused Pattaya officials of corruption, alleging that they drove away street vendors for not paying bribes, but allowed a luxurious restaurant to use the beach because of financial gain.
Some pointed the finger at the Pattaya Marine Office for granting permission, as they are in charge of beach maintenance. Many noted that the tables and chairs on the beach had been visible for months, but officials turned a blind eye. However, following the widespread attention on Thai social media, all of the furniture and decorations were removed within a day.
The restaurant was later identified to be a seafood joint named Uncle Sawai.
The manager of the restaurant, Kanok Suraiphet, accepted full responsibility for the unauthorized use of public space. He stated that he had instructed workers to set up tables on the beach for customers seeking a beach-dining experience. He acknowledged that his actions were wrong and offered his apologies.
The Director of the Pattaya Marine Office, Ekkarat Kantharo, clarified the matter by explaining that the beach was undergoing a project to combat coastal erosion and that the office was only responsible for the beach extension, not its management, which was handled by the Na Jomtien Municipality Office.
The beach has been extended from a previous width of five meters to 51 meters, and the project will continue along 3,575 meters of the Na Jomtien coastline. Ekkarat emphasized that the Pattaya Marine Office did not receive any benefits and was only responsible for the beach extension. Management of the area was the responsibility of the Na Jomtien Municipality Office, not them.
Ekkarat added that the Na Jomtien Municipality Office would investigate the restaurant and take legal action accordingly.
The issue is not new, several local vendors were banned last year for setting up their shops on the beach. The officials managed to clear the space and gave the clean beach back to beachgoers.
To prevent future incidents, a big sign was installed, warning vendors of a 2,000 baht fine for setting up shops in the public area according to the Public Cleanliness Act.
However, it seems like the warning is not working. Locals urged the officials to clarify the incident and put tougher measures to prevent a similar case.
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