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OPINION: Big stink at Phuket landmark



OPINION: Big stink at Phuket landmark | Thaiger

PHUKET: A meeting earlier this month about problems facing the central stage area at Saphan Hin, a Phuket landmark, ended with an unsurprising result. A new committee will be formed to deal with the issues involved.

For readers who missed the Gazette‘s online report last week, the key issues are economic, although some stakeholders have donned the mantle of environmentalism to help further their goals.

Few would argue that the central stage area at Saphan Hin and its surroundings are not strained by the number of people attending events there. Anyone who has visited the area the morning after a “big night” cannot fail to notice the piles of garbage, the stench of urine, and other manifestations of a collective environmental hangover – one that has to be cleaned up before the next round of partying begins.

That task generally falls to the event organizers and the Phuket municipality, who generally do an impressive job of moving the mountains of unsorted waste to the incinerator and landfill, conveniently located just a kilometer away.

Among those complaining about the events are small business operators nearby. These people pay rent to the municipality, only to find the masses shunning their establishments in favor of the great food, cheap draft beer, amusement park entertainments, live performances and other attractions at the main stage area.

They certainly have a right to complain, but they should consider that these events also draw a lot of people to the area who might otherwise stay away – not an irrational idea given all the violence that has taken place there over the years. In some cases, notably Phuket’s Halal Festival and Local Food Fair, when no alcohol is available, nearby shopkeepers enjoy record sales.

Saphan Hin offers Phuket’s residents year-round, authentic Thai fun and good value for money. Rather than considering moving some of these events to Patong, which is already gasping under the volume of waste and stink it generates, why not put more emphasis on organizing events at Saphan Hin in an environmentally-friendly way.

A good start would be to provide different bins for organic, non-organic and recyclable wastes, and to force vendors to use biodegradable containers – not plastic. All the different agencies that put on events at this challenged Phuket landmark bleat endlessly on these issues, then stage their event in the most hypocritical fashion imaginable.

If raising public awareness is so important, what more appropriate place could there be to start than Saphan Hin? Not only is it the receptacle of 500 tons of waste every day, but it wouldn’t even exist if not for the environmental sins of our tin-mining forefathers.


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