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Letter from the Phuket Governor: Creating unity in a time of discord

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Letter from the Phuket Governor: Creating unity in a time of discord | Thaiger

Maitri Inthusut arrived on the island to take up the position of Governor of Phuket in October 2012. With a master’s degree in political science from Thammasat University, he joined the National Security Council, rising to the position of NSC Secretary-General, before taking up the position of Chief Secretary for Secretariat of the Cabinet. He has also served as Governor of the provinces of Trang and Phayao.

Here, in his third ‘Letter from the Governor’, he thanks two foreigners who helped Phuket residents in need.

PHUKET: As we face ongoing political instability, protests and even violence, it is reassuring to hear of generous charitable acts, of people who feel moved to help others without asking for anything in return.

This is particularly so when the people involved come from different countries. It reminds us that regardless of our differences, we are all human beings and it helps us feel united in a fundamental way, in our hearts.

I’d like to thank and warmly praise Derek Clarkson from Australia and Delyse Gibson from new Zealand for helping two Phuket residents.

Mr Clarkson helped put Wilaiwan Damnui, a cigarette vendor who was born with a deformed leg and no hands, on the path to getting a new prosthetic leg (story here).

He said he was inspired by her independence – despite her handicaps, for years he saw her working every day to support herself on Bangla Road in Patong.

When he realized that she needed a new leg, he stepped forward to help and contacted the Phuket Gazette for assistance in communicating with Ms Wilaiwan.

In Ms Gibson’s case, it was a disaster that motivated her to come to the aid of mini-crepe seller Prayoon Inpuang, someone she had never met.

Even though she wasn’t in Phuket, when she read that his sole source of income, his crepe cart, had been destroyed in a fire, she was moved to contact the Gazette to find a way to help him (story here).

A lot of people feel moved when they read stories such as Ms Wilaiwan’s and Mr Prayoon’s, but not many people take action. Mr Clarkson and Ms Gibson are excellent examples for all of us. If we reach out, if we take the time to make the effort, we can make a difference.

I’d also like to praise the Gazette for their role in making these good things happen. What they did reminds us that the media is one of the most important elements to building a better society. Sometimes they can even make dreams come true.

Without diminishing the kindness of the donors, I’d also like to remind everyone that the government has subsidies and services to provide for those who need them.

I was told that Ms Wilaiwan had already received one prosthetic leg and wasn’t aware that she was eligible for another one.

There are foundations and organizations to help all Thai people. I’d like to encourage anyone who might be in a similar position to seek out help with your local government office. If you fail to get the help you need there, come to us and we will connect you with the appropriate group.

There are also subsidies available for disabled people in Phuket. Those people who are eligible will receive a monthly allowance after they register with the government. It is not a lot of money, but we hope that it will help you when you need it.

If all other avenues fail, come to see me in person to tell me what trouble you are in. It is my job to make sure the government is taking care of you.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Tourism

Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp”

Tim Newton

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Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp” | Thaiger
PHOTO: The monsoon waves are starting to hit Phuket's west coast

Thailand’s Sports and Tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is acknowledging that Phuket’s ‘Sandbox’ model for a no-quarantine re-opening in July will need “a major revamp”. As the Songkran travel bubble bursts and the monsoon season waves start to roll onto the island’s west coast beaches, Phuket’s scheduled July re-boot suddenly seems a long way off.

Minister Phiphat says he plans to meet with “all related agencies” this week. Apart from the latest national re-surge in new infections, Phuket has been unable to get its hands on sufficient vaccines to meed its deadline of 70% of the island vaccinated by July 1. Thailand’s limited supplies of the vaccine – including some 930,000 doses designated for Phuket – are being rerouted to other provinces as the government prioritises the limited supply.

“We are all concerned about the reopening timeline,” he was quoted in Bangkok Post.

But the Minister did acknowledge that, if the 70% vaccination level couldn’t be met, they may consider opening some areas of the island. Exactly how that would work hasn’t been revealed at this stage.

The minister also brought up the ongoing travel bubble negotiations and says he hadn’t heard back from some of the candidates with their reaction to the current outbreak.

Flights in and out of Phuket Airport’s international terminal have been extremely patchy and the flights from feeder tourist markets will need to co-operate with any re-opening plans.

Phuket, whilst suffering a rise in new infections, hasn’t been hit as hard as some of the other popular holiday provinces, like Chiang Mai, Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin).

This year’s Songkran was going to be a major stepping stone for the island’s recovery and many hotels, some who had opened especially to cater for Songkran holiday traffic, noted a lot of cancellations just prior to the break.

But some island hotels have still reported high occupancy rates over the past week. One Manager, who did not want his name published, said that their hotel was almost full with Thai patrons, most who had pre-paid for their flights and accommodation and decided to go ahead anyway.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, the president of the Phuket Tourist Association, says that they are opposed to any lockdown as it would cripple the island, with its tourist businesses already suffering greatly. He stated that 15% of people cancelled their Songkran bookings, while 30% had postponed their trips.

The Sports and Tourism Ministers is still in quarantine after having close contact with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 2 weeks ago.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing

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Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Kolour in the park was more pleasant in 2018 before Covid-19.

Health officials in Phuket put out a public statement this week compelling all foreigners who attended clubs and Kolour events to report for Covid-19 testing. As many might expect, the response has been lacklustre at best. Spreading the message around the foreigner and expat community in Phuket, the message is aimed at the multitudes of people, mostly foreign who attended Kolour and related events that turned into a Covid-19 superspreader event. Many foreigners have not come forward, much to health officials chagrin.

Online and on social media, foreigners and Thais shed light on why this urgent public health request is going largely unheeded. Foreigners fear the repercussions of coming forward, especially since Thailand is not allowing staying home or elsewhere in isolation if someone tests positive for Covid-19. Quarantine is mandatory, and with infection numbers exploding across the country, many fear the less-than-posh comforts of being quarantined in an emergency field hospital.

Cost is the other factor that likely is preventing foreigners from turning themselves in to be tested for Covid-19. While Phuket health officials may test people for free, anyone found infected with Covid-19 will be financially responsible for all the costs of their treatment and quarantine. Foreigners with limited financial resources, especially after a year of holing up in Thailand to ride out the Coronavirus, may resist reporting to authorities when they cannot afford the mandatory quarantine and medical treatment.

Perhaps recognizing this hesitation, the message includes a plea for all attendees to self-quarantine and self-monitor for any symptoms over the next week, even if they fail to report or test negative. The note also reminds everyone to wear masks in public at all times. The statement to the public also instructed anyone who attended any of the Covid-19 spreading nightlife events to report to the Acute Respiratory Infection Clinic area of Vachira General Hospital to receive a Covid-19 swab test.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

Tim Newton

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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