Phuket Opinion: Where bureaucrats fear to tread

PHUKET: A key question asked in the pop parable Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson is, “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?”

The story deals with the inhabitants of a fictional Maze who one day find quite unaccountably that their store of cheese has vanished.

The message of the piece is that change is inevitable; those who embrace it may prosper, those who fear it will be buried by it.

For professionals in the private sector, this message must come as nothing new: free enterprise quickly disposes of those handicapped by outworn skills and techniques.

Some individuals in the Phuket bureaucracy are aware that they must run as fast as they can to maintain a grip on change, but for the public sector as a whole, the treadmill grinds on at the same numbing pace. Change is barely, at best belatedly, accounted for. This is a lamentable circumstance in the case of this once-idyllic isle of ours.

As noted in this space may times before, the registered population of Phuket is 320,000, but by most estimates the actual population is probably more than a million. How many more? Who knows. Change has long outstripped our government’s ability to even keep track of our island’s own population.

In Phuket, change is precipitated by those unaccounted-for people and their unaccounted-for needs, habits and tastes, which themselves are in constant flux.

It has long been plain that this island’s hillsides are valuable, that they might profitably be covered, like those of the French Riviera, with luxury homes. So now new regulations controlling hillside development are in place allowing construction on steeper slopes, provided that a delimited amount of green space is provided.

What kind of control will be exerted on developers, ensuring they follow the law?

A Chinese company is interested in developing a light-rail system for the island, enhancing access to tourist areas and the airport, which is under expansion to accommodate far greater numbers than the almost six million tourists who already visit annually.

But where is the water? The infrastructure? The regulatory bodies necessary to ensure such projects don’t result in overwhelming complication?

The pace of change is accelerating, but thus far, despite some achievements, local government’s track record in keeping up is far from impressive.

The time is ripe to grasp change by the mane and ride it: the public sector must dispense with its business-as-usual, let’s-form-another-committee approach and embrace the dynamics of the situation, which call for thought and action within a reasonable time frame.

Phuket’s public servants must do what they would do if they weren’t afraid to decide what to do: change is upon us, public and private sectors together. Unless we adapt in time, our cheese will surely vanish.

Opinion

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

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

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