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A Decade Ago: Crowne Plaza, work permits and Chinese tourists

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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A Decade Ago: Crowne Plaza, work permits and Chinese tourists | The Thaiger

PHUKET: If you weren’t in Phuket ten years ago, you might not even know what the Crown Plaza was.

Nonetheless, it stole page one of the Phuket Gazette in the May 6-11, 2006 issue when it was bought by Kingdom Hotel Investment, which was headed by Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud – the 8th richest man in the world at the time.

Originally the Karon Villa Resort, the hotel complex was built in 1984 and then rebranded as the Crowne Plaza in 2003. Despite the unfamiliar name, the property itself is one that many socialites and tourists on the island will recognize, as it is now Movenpick Spa Resort Karon Beach.

Though Prince Alwaleed praised the opportunity to get his hands on a fully refurbished hotel in a pristine site on Phuket’s west coast, the big news for most readers was a little sidebar story on page one: Labor Chief speeds up work permit procedures.

It’s hard to imagine that the sometimes painful process of getting a work permit in Thailand was once even more torturous.

“Now, people do not need to come to our office two or three times. We will have their work permit renewed in just 15 minutes, and new work permits approved in just one week,” said the Phuket Provincial Employment Office (PPEO) chief at the time. Though optimistic time frames for receiving a work permit might not have endured over the last 10 years, as the number of foreigners and migrant labors has continued to rise, the system put in place by the chief definitely has helped with clarity. Instead of details being handwritten into work permits, they are now printed by a computer to make them more legible – to those who can read Thai.

It is not hard to imagine the doors for corruption and confusion that slammed closed with this change – not saying there aren’t other doors still cracked open. Nonetheless, clarity in work permits continues to be an issue in Phuket, especially within the diving industry. This New Year’s Eve, seven dive instructors based in Phuket were arrested and jailed for several days for working in Krabi province, apparently something not covered in their work permits. Unfortunately, the current PPEO chief is dead set against further clarifications inside work permits – shooting down the idea of providing English translations that would allow those who hold them to accurately understand what exactly they are permitted to do when it comes to work.

Worse than a couple of nights in jail for a work permit infraction, however, are underestimating the dangers of a sunny day in a tropical paradise, which prompted lifeguards to queue up ‘please-don’t-ignore-red-flags’ loop tape to warn locals and tourists about the dangers of Phuket’s west coast rip currents, which have already claimed the life of at least one young woman this year.

Ten years ago, the rips and other dangers on the island that killed three Chinese tourists in Phuket between January and May 2006 prompted China’s consul-general in Songkhla to call for help in protecting what has since become the island’s number one source market.

“The Chinese government recognizes that the most important thing for tourism development is safety, and so we urge Chinese tour operators to take very good care of their tourists. We also want the Thai government to help prevent Chinese tourists from getting into unsafe situations,” the consul-general said.

Despite safety being a priority for tourism development, neither the deaths of those three Chinese nationals – two by drowning – nor the dozens who have died in the following ten years seems to have hampered the explosive growth of the Chinese market.

Though Chinese regularly drown on snorkeling trips in our waters, it seems that etiquette has come to the front lines for Chinese-tourism management. In March this year, tour guides working with Chinese and Chinese tour company employees were invited to join an etiquette course. The course came in the wake of a video clip that went viral of Chinese tourists in a disgusting, wasteful feeding frenzy at a prawn buffet in Chiang Mai.

Of course, Thailand isn’t the only country trying to school Chinese tourists: a tourism guide imploring Chinese visitors in Japan to stop belching and passing gas in public has had to be republished in multiple languages – not just Chinese – so as to lay the blame for uncouth behavior on ‘foreign’ tourists generally, rather than guests from China alone.

Given the stink being raised, perhaps other tourists will just have to move or pick a different part of Phuket to explore if they are worried about being swarmed by those arriving by tour buses. May I suggest the Crowne Plaza? There weren’t nearly as many tourists on the island ten years ago – though the dangers in the waters and the roads were just as real.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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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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Environment

The second baby dugong ‘Yamil’ dies in Phuket

The Thaiger

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The second baby dugong ‘Yamil’ dies in Phuket | The Thaiger

The second young dugong, being cared for by vets at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre, has died.

Yamil, the baby dugong stranded on a Krabi beach on July 1, died of “shock and cardiac arrest” last night (Thursday) after suffering indigestion and gastroparesis.

The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources report that Yamil was sent from the Phuket Marine Biological Centre to Vachira Hospital last evening for an endoscopy to observe its gastrointestinal tract, which was found to be full of sea grass – a dugong’s normal food.

“But the sea grass had obstructed Yamil’s gut, causing its digestive system to stop functioning. This resulted in a buildup of gas in the digestive system, leading to the rupture of blood vessels and infection.”

Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari named the dugong ‘Yamil’ when he was moved from Krabi to Phuket for treatment and rehabilitation by marine vets. The animal was originally rescued by villagers from a Krabi beach where it washed up. His care has been sponsored by the Princess. Yamil, in the Yawi dialect, means “handsome young man of the sea”.

Last Friday night, baby dugong ‘Mariam’ died of shock while being treated in protected area near Koh Libong in Trang province.  Vets later found several pieces of plastic in its stomach.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Business

Official complaint filed with the DSI over The Peaks Residences Condominium in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Official complaint filed with the DSI over The Peaks Residences Condominium in Phuket | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Inspections at the property in March this year – Kritsada Mueanhawong

Bangkok MP Sira Jenjaka has gone ahead and filed a long list of formal complaints over The Peaks Residences Condominium project being built in the hills above Kata Noi in Phuket.

The Palang Pracharat MP has also claimed to have had death threats made against him over his investigations and accusations over the condo’s land titles and ownership in recent weeks.

The MP filed an official complaint with the Department of Special Investigation chief in Bangkok this morning.

The complaint alleges that the Karon Mayor Tawee Thongcham and the municipality “neglected their duties” by issuing permits to Kata Beach Co Ltd, the developer of the The Peaks Residences Condominium.

In February this year the Karon OrBorTor issued a construction permit for the project but in April municipal officials also sent a letter acknowledging the ongoing legal proceedings over the legitimacy of the land title, the NorSor 3 Kor Number 1863.

The complaint alleges that the project is being built on land with a NorSor 3 Kor No. 1863 land title. The complainants allege that the legal land document would have had to have been presented to obtain building permits and construction to proceed. But they claim that, as the NorSor 3 Kor for that land was under consideration by the Administrative Court, a legal building permit could not be issued.

In August 2017, the Regional Administrative Court ruled that the NorSor 3 Kor No. 1863 land title was invalid. Furthermore it determined that the land was “protected forest land”.

The DSI formally received the complaint documents this morning.

Meanwhile, the developer of The Peaks Residences Condominium, Manassanan Nararattanawee, the CEO of Kata Beach Co Ltd, maintains that the project’s paperwork is all “proper’ and that “everything is under the law”.

“Our company has already suspended construction to wait for the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court.”

Officials from the Internal Security Operations Command inspected the property in March this year as the owners promised to ‘slow down’ construction. Read that story HERE.

Official complaint filed with the DSI over The Peaks Residences Condominium in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

Official complaint filed with the DSI over The Peaks Residences Condominium in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Department of Special Investigations

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Environment

Phuket marine vets report on the progress of dugong calf ‘Yamil’

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket marine vets report on the progress of dugong calf ‘Yamil’ | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

A veterinary team at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre has removed the remaining partially-digested sea grass from the 3 month old dugong calf Yamil’s stomach to prevent complications from possible infection.

The calf still suffers from excess stomach and intestinal gas, abnormal heart rhythms and occasional seizures.

X-ray results showed liquid food is still passing through Yamil’s digestive track, so veterinarians were removing the remaining sea grass from its stomach and would provide the marine mammal with liquid nutrients and minerals, as well as painkillers and antibiotics. Veterinarians say they are keeping a close watch on the young dugong.

The male baby dugong was found washed ashore on Krabi’s Bo Muang Beach on July 1 with abrasions on more than 50% of its body. It is currently in the care of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre until it is old enough and strong enough to be returned to the sea.

SOURCE: The Nation

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