Hundreds flock to register as poor
PHUKET TOWN: Up to 800 people declared themselves “poor” on the first day of registration at the island’s three district offices in Phuket Town, Kathu and Thalang. The project – part of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s War on Poverty – is being piloted in eight provinces around the country. So far some 400,000 families, thought to be about 10% of the population in the pilot zones, have registered. Among those waiting to register was Sa-ard Chaladdee, 40, from Pichit. She told the Gazette that she came to Phuket to work as a restaurant dishwasher. “I came here today with my friends and other people who live nearby because we hope that the government will help by offering lower-cost housing to us,” she said. Sampao Tanyin, 37, from Phuket said that there are almost 30 people in his family and in the past they worked five rai in Sapam. “It’s now been seized by a rich person although we lived there for more than 40 years,” K. Sampao said. “It is now judged to belong to that person, not us, so we have to live in rented rooms instead. “I don’t know if the government can help us solve the problem but I just want them to help poor people to have land to live and work on,” he added. Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura visited Phuket Town District Office and reminded the Gazette that Phuket boasts an array of natural resources and has a per-capita income higher than that of other provinces. “But we also have many poor people at ‘grass roots’ level who still haven’t benefited from the development of tourism on Phuket,” said Gov Udomsak. “The main demonstration that people have given of their poverty is not owning workable land or a house to live in,” he continued. These reasons were echoed by the Chief Administrative Officer of Thalang District Office, Suksun Siengek, who added that people had also registered because of outstanding debts. “We estimate that around 100 people will register each day until March 31,” he said. “There should be no more than 10,000 people registering as poor in Thalang.”
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