KARON: Reports that the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa is planning to cancel the upcoming international summit on dengue fever out of fear of a People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protest at the resort are unfounded, a hotel spokesperson has confirmed.
The Thai-language Manager online news service this morning reported that the hotel’s management called the Ministry of Public Health’s Disease Control Department to cancel the conference after it “received information” that some 2,000 PAD supporters planned to converge on the resort to prevent unpopular Health Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung from opening the two-day event.
Manager is owned by media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul, who is also a core leader of the PAD.
Three months ago, ongoing protests by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in Phuket and Krabi took then Interior Minister Chalerm by surprise in both provinces, forcing him to cancel official duties and return to Bangkok. For more on that story, click here.
The PAD views the appointment two weeks ago of Pol Capt Chalerm as Health Minister as the epitome of cronyism. They decry the appointment, claiming that he has never shown any previous interest in health issues.
Nampetch Tipaxsorn, Marketing and Communication Manager at the Hilton Phuket Arcadia, today the Gazette, “I have to clear up any misunderstandings that the conference might be canceled by the hotel. It’s totally untrue. This event has been organized by the Health Ministry, so any cancellation would have to be ordered by them,” she said.
Senior Phuket PAD member Natjarong Ekpermsup told the Gazette this afternoon that he had been informed that Capt Chalerm was not coming to the conference.
Upon learning that the conference would instead be opened by the ministry’s permanent secretary, the PAD are happy to let it be held as scheduled, he said.
“But if Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat or any other of Thaksin’s nominees try to come to Phuket, there will be protests,” he warned.
The two-day conference, called the Second International Conference on Dengue and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever 2008, will take place October 15 to 17.
About 300 dengue experts from abroad and 500 from Thailand are expected to attend, along with about 1,000 members of the local and international media.
Some 80% of the participants have already booked their hotel rooms, Miss Nampetch said.
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