Winai Chidchiew, 42, is the Subdistrict chief (Kamnan) of Karon. Phuket-born Mr Winai has a political science master’s degree specializing in local development and a bachelor’s degree in law, both earned from Ramkhamhaeng University. He also has a bachelor’s degree in community development from Rajabhat University.
Here, he talks about the importance of involving local authorities in decisions made for any community.
PHUKET: Much too often businessmen bypass local residents and authorities and use upper-level government bodies to help them achieve their self-serving goals. If they have something approved by these higher-ups, the local authorities have no power to refuse.
If a businessperson can persuade upper-level government officials to grant him or her permission to do something, he or she does not have to care about what the locals think.
In Article 87 of the 2007 Constitution, it was written that every government body must involve locals in decisions that could affect them. However, this is no longer the case.
While Thailand’s government drafts a new constitution, the current laws are unclear. Businessmen know this; they are clever. They are taking advantage of legal loopholes to benefit themselves.
Meanwhile, the higher authorities are being used as a tool and they ignore it. Why? Because some of them can benefit from these arrangements with businessmen. They can work together, as a team. This is an embarrassment for Thailand.
To make the system appear as if it is transparent, municipalities set up local committees, but actual local residents are rarely invited to join the meetings.
I think a lack of knowledge, morals and law enforcement, plus improper power distribution among our leaders, are the main causes of this and many other problems in Thailand.
For example, 13 companies were recently granted permission by the Governor’s Office and Department of Groundwater. Resources to dig new wells in Kata-Karon. These wells affect the quality of local residents’ well water, and can also cause the water to run out. When we have no water to use, we have to buy it. Who will pay for us? Who will be held responsible for this?
Before the Asian Beach Games, about 10 rai of sea morning glory was destroyed on Karon Beach to make room for the games. The municipality approved it without asking how the locals felt. Sea morning glory is part of Karon’s identity. This will affect the beach and the locals forever.
I understand that the law cannot prevent everything and protect everyone. However, those who practice it and use it should be well aware of its failings, and use morals as their guide in filling those gaps. This does not just go for lawyers, but also for our leaders and law enforcers.
Evidence of when this is not done is when local villagers form mobs and stage protests, calling for the higher levels of government to help them.
Thailand is my country. I cannot stand still and watch people destroy their own country to benefit themselves. We must help each other and work together to change the world.
We should write our new laws using local knowledge. Use this knowledge and learn from local people’s way of life. Ask them what they need and make a point to cater to these needs with the law.
Local people in each area do things a little bit differently. We must bring together all of this knowledge in creating our laws. It is not fair to use a constitution created by one group of people to control every single person throughout the country.
We must never think that if something does not affect us directly that it is none of our business. Everything we do affects everyone else. If we deny this, Thailand will never move forward. We must act in a way that benefits all of mankind, not just ourselves.
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