Pattaya officials’ efforts to tackle city’s homeless issue show promise but lack results
Pattaya officials have demonstrated a consistent ability to sign agreements to address the city’s homeless issue, but have struggled to make substantial progress in resolving the problem. A new memorandum of understanding (MOU) is set to be signed later this month, which aims to establish a “protection system” for people living on the streets. This follows another MOU signed in August of the previous year.
In contrast to last year’s agreement, involving the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and the Chon Buri Protection Centre for the Destitute, the upcoming MOU will include signatures from a wider range of organisations. These include the Chon Buri Home for Children and Family, Thai Health Promotion Foundation, Burapha University, Institute of Asian Studies Chulalongkorn University, Banglamung Hospital, plus tourist and immigration police. The agreement intends to establish guidelines on how to manage homeless individuals when they are encountered by city or law-enforcement officials.
Last year, the Ministry initiated cooperative programmes with 29 municipalities to support social welfare management, providing care and rehabilitation. However, despite the MOU signed at that time, there has been no observable improvement in Pattaya’s homeless situation. The newly proposed government document aims to offer similar support, promising to get homeless people off the streets, provide care and social services, and help them find employment and housing.
Pattaya Deputy Mayor Wuthisak Rermkijakarn explained that individuals living on the streets cannot be arrested, and can only be asked where they would like to be relocated, whether to relatives or a shelter. However, they can also refuse help and simply be requested to move elsewhere. He further clarified that public officials only have legal jurisdiction over vagrants who are in the country illegally or who are outwardly displaying signs of mental illness. It remains to be seen if the latest efforts and collaborations signed in the MOU will produce more meaningful results in addressing Pattaya’s ongoing homeless problem.
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