PHUKET: Efforts by the Phuket Provincial Office and related agencies to tackle the problem of unregulated “swiftlet ranching” are admirable in their foresight, but regrettable in approach. (See here to read “Tourism finds swiftlet avaries difficult to swallow”).
As many residents of this island are aware, mainland Chinese are one of the largest and most rapidly growing segments of the inbound tourism market. The increase in this market has led to a growing number of bird’s nest soup restaurants, as well as heightened demand for the key ingredient: the saliva produced nests of Aerodramus Fuciphagus, also known as the “white nest swiftlet”, “edible-nest swiftlet” or nok nang ane in Thai.
To some it may seem premature to worry about a profusion of swiftlet barns in Phuket, which certainly has a number of more pressing tourism-related concerns.
As its name suggests, Aerodramus swiftlet (Fuciphagus) is spectacular in flight and, in addition to hacking up threads of saliva reportedly fit for the consumption of emperors, is interesting in many other respects. For example, it is one of the very few bird species to have developed echolocation to navigate through the darkness of caves, its natural habitat.
At the risk of sounding anthropocentric, swiftlets are much easier to have around than pigeons, crows, buzzards or seagulls. They sleep most of the day and feed by night on insects, populations of which they help to keep in check.
The Phuket Gazette was unable to find any tourism business operators in Phuket who had specific complaints about swiftlets, including the management at one of the most popular restaurants on the island that is a stone’s throw away from one of the largest swiftlet barn complexes on the island.
All that said, the government is right to restrict where swiftlet barns are permitted: many of us enjoy the birds’ aerial acrobatics in the twilight sky, but few would want to live right next door to a swiftlet complex.
Most of the regulations that forbid swiftlet ranching are based on the bird’s threatened status in the region, which is hardly the case anymore thanks to the ranching boom. Unfortunately, rather than try to change existing legislation to legalize swiftlet farming and then regulate the industry, the authorities have instead opted to take the easy route by setting up “zones” where an illegal practice will effectively be permitted.
In this sense, there is little difference between this and the way the jet-ski rental business and other technically-illegal industries are “regulated” in Phuket. Worse yet is the fact that local administration organizations, not all of which have stellar reputations for transparency or fairness, will now be in the business of deciding who can ranch swiftlets and where they can do it.
“Racial profiling and xenophobic” – a rant against Dual Pricing
The rules are applied in a lumpy fashion at various tourist hot spots around the country as well as some national parks. Sometimes it’s applied, sometimes, not, sometimes there are signs, sometime they make it up as they go, sometimes they will allow local expats in for the Thai price.
There are dual-pricing apologists who say ‘Hey, it’s cheap anyway, so pay up and shut up’. Whilst dual-pricing whiners say it’s unfair, racist and shows a lack of grace towards tourists and foreigners.
Here’s the story from ‘Despondant Foreigner’. You can have your say on the post at our Facebook page…
“I would like to share my story with you that happened to me this morning. I visited Promlok waterfall in Nakhon Si Thammaratt with my Thai wife, child and wife’s family. Upon arrival two soldiers approached our car and my wife began talking to them. They explained to her that as today is Songkran all Thai’s get to go to the waterfalls free of charge but I had to pay. Then a woman dressed in yellow approached the car who confirmed what the soldiers said and told my wife that this is a new law. Well we were all disgusted and proceeded to drive back down to the bottom of the waterfall where we could all swim for free.
I am absolutely disgusted by this. Yet another example of Thailand’s racial profiling and xenophobia towards foreigners. The fact that I am married and have children here doesn’t make a difference. Because I have white skin I must pay the fee whilst all Thais go in free.”
Fox News fake news, Phuket gets a bullet
by Bill Barnett, C9Hotelworks.com
As Phuket moves slowly into low season, a story published in the international media by the US-based Fox News about how tourists could face the death penalty over taking photos at the island’s airport is a highly flaw piece of sensationalist fake news.
Clearly there is no likelihood that the Thai authorities will apply a legal maximum penalty under the Air Navigation Act for tourists posing for selfies as airplanes land. More likely would be a charge of trespassing and a fine.
Clicking into Google this morning the story is now running with the New York Post, MSN and other news outlets abroad.
What is distressing is to see how news providers sensationalize Thailand and Phuket with little regard as to the consequences of the economic impact of such a story.
For most readers, what they will remember when reading such a piece is only the headline about Phuket, Mai Khao Beach and the death penalty.
What a sorry state of affairs mainstream news has become.
To read the Fox News article clock HERE.
Is Thanathorn the new Thaksin? Will the ‘establishment’ tolerate his new political vision?
Is Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit a popular fad or does he, and his party, have the staying power to make him a sustainable threat to the entrenched Thai political elite?
Many analysts are comparing Thanathorn to Thaksin in his early days. They say there are clear similarities. First off, Thanathorn is facing the kind of legal trouble that Thaksin faced when Thailand’s political crisis started to brew.
After becoming Thailand’s PM, Thaksin faced a share transfer scandal in which he moved his company shares to poor servants, allegedly to avoid stock market restrictions imposed on people owning big lots of stocks. Now, 40 year old Thanathorn is facing a legal controversy over his previous ownership of media shares, which could still doom his election candidacy.
The allegations are yet to be considered by the Election Commission.
Thaksin, in spite of repeated denials, was always alleged to have controversial political ambitions. Thanathorn, meanwhile, is seen in an increasingly similar situation. The list of complaints is growing, many to do with his perceived unorthodox ideology that contrasts with the conservative political ‘Thainess’ that includes non-negotiable support for the Army and Monarchy.
Thanathorn has been criticised for something he said about the Khana Ratsadon Party, which played an instrumental role in changing Thailand’s system from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy in 1932. The secretary-general of Thanathorn’s party has also been forced to deny making highly-controversial comments about Thailand’s political culture.
Future Forward did very well on March 24, surpassing pundits’ predictions for the new party. Analysts say the success is due to three main factors — Thanathorn’s youthful image that attracted the majority of first-time voters, the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party that shifted a lot of votes to Future Forward, and the new party’s fresh ideology and perspectives.
He, and the party, attracted a lot of newer voters along with a core of disaffected voters who are looking for change.
But Thanathorn’s looming legal trouble is described as a potential banana skin. It concerns a large number of shares he had in a media company, which were transferred to his mother so that he could qualify as an election candidate.
One apparently-private document, which he is relying on, showed he transferred the V-Luck Media Company shares on January 8, before he applied for election candidacy. Another document, which his accusers are relying on, apparently showed the transfer was brought to the authorities’ attention after he became an election candidate.
Controversy continues to build around the young billionaire and chances are it will grow.
SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Thaiger
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