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Phuket benefits from NCPO’s no-nonsense measures

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Following the unprecedented crackdown on the island’s notorious transport syndicates in recent weeks, it is becoming clear that few provinces in Thailand are benefitting more from the no-nonsense measures ordered by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) than Phuket.

Now the cleanup, aimed at ending illegal businesses in Phuket, has targeted another scourge that has increasingly tarnished Phuket’s reputation as a tropical beach resort destination: the proliferation of businesses operating illegally on public beaches.

If there is another destination on the planet that has seen more greedy profiteers encroach directly on beach sands than Phuket has, we would not like to visit it. There is hardly a west coast beach that is unaffected, and those few that are remain so because of resort owners who manage to restrict access.

Even the destruction wrought by the 2004 tsunami disaster proved no long-term match for the relentless tide of human greed, corruption and ignorance that allowed the beach encroachment problem to return to, and quickly surpass, pre-disaster proportions.

News that a real crackdown was underway at four beaches in Cherng Talay had residents of other coastal towns crying out for their locale to be next. Cherng Talay seems as good a place as any to start (story here). Home to one of the highest concentrations of high-end resorts on the island, visiting guests arrive there to find their views of, and pathways to, the sea blocked by illegal businesses of just about every nature and description. In addition to beach clubs, beer bars and other kinds of operations one might expect, the variety has extended to the ridiculous, including brightly-lit, air-conditioned tailor shops right on the sand – as if tourists come to the interface between land and sea to purchase bespoke suits.

Greater political considerations aside, we sincerely hopes that this initial crackdown is successful, giving authorities the momentum they will need to extend this long-overdue purge to other beaches, including the mother-of-all strands when it comes to greed-fuelled, unregulated seaside development: Patong.

It goes without saying that the current situation could never have developed without the consent of corrupt state officials and elected members of the local administrative bodies that have jurisdiction. Only the most naïve among us would be prepared to believe that the existence of such encroachment stems from mere oversight or “dereliction of duty” – and not outright corruption.

Those responsible, those at the top, need to be arrested and prosecuted in a transparent way to set an example for the future.

Ironically, some of their numbers have been among those crying out most vocally to ‘restart Thailand’. If the restart we get is the one we really need, and not just another extra-political purge, then those aforementioned parties might truly fall victim to the portents of the age-old adage: be careful what you wish for.

 

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

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