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PACC it all in, Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PACC it all in, Phuket | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: This week’s exclusive lead story in the Phuket Gazette newspaper about the decision of the Public-sector Anti Corruption Commission (PACC) to shelve its investigation into encroachment cases here in Phuket comes as a disappointment – but not much of a surprise.

Phuket has a long history of land probes, all of which are motivated by political forces. In the 1990s, wealthy Phuket families were found to have been issued land title deeds on plots designated under the Ministry of Agriculture’s SorPorKor program, intended to make degraded state land available for use by landless farmers. The political scandal led to the collapse of the coalition government led by then-Democrat party leader Chuan Leekpai.

Fast forward a decade to 2003, when then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was at the zenith of his power. This was the same period in which his Thai Rak Thai party launched another onslaught of probes related to the SorPorKor project in Phuket, one of the power bases of the rival Democrats.

With Thaksin effectively having regained power in 2011, did it really come as any surprise that Phuket would once again become the focus of a land probe? The real mystery is why the PACC’s “Special Operations Unit” – its ‘fangs’ – were quietly removed last October. Perhaps former PACC head Col Dussadee Arayawuth simply did too good a job during his 43 days in office. In the end, exposing so many high-ranking civil servants for [alleged] corruption may have turned out to be less expedient than doing the same to political rivals.

The sad part is that few if any of these land “probes” are actually launched with the true intention of seeing stolen state land returned to its rightful owners. This, coupled with the fact that we live in a country where politics can turn upside down overnight with a coup, and court cases can take decades to resolve, is why the campaigns are so seldom successful.

Official corruption involving land has a long history here in Phuket. Some of the island’s wealthiest people come from families whose ancestors were granted tin mining concessions. When the mining finished, they threw up coconut trees and claimed they were farming it, rather than returning it to the state, as required by law. None of this could have been accomplished without paying backhanders to the bureaucrats of the time.

The initial enthusiasm generated by the PACC probe makes even sadder the reality that there remains no effective barrier to encroachment leveraged by official corruption. It strikes us as ironic that encroaching on state land remains such a “rich man/poor man” game. That is to say, only the very rich and very poor seem to be able to get away with it. Those of us in the middle, who pay taxes and follow the law, can only sit by and watch as our hillsides are denuded and our mangrove forests destroyed.

This editorial first appeared in the February 9-15 print version of the Phuket Gazette.

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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 prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

Maya Taylor

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at worldometer.info website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

Police tracked down and arrested a Burmese woman who allegedly left her newborn baby on a bench in Phuket’s Patong area last week. The mother faces charges of abandoning a baby.

The newborn was left in a reusable shopping bag on a bench behind a Krungthai Bank branch. A woman in the area heard the baby crying and found the newborn in the bag along with a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing. Police reviewed surveillance camera footage shows a woman, police later identified as Ei Ei Phyu, leaving the bag on the bench.

Police say the woman gave birth on September 9 at a local hospital in Surat Thani’s Phun Phin district. Ei Ei allegedly took a van from Surat Thani to Phuket on September 22 and stayed with a friend in Patong. The early the next morning, she allegedly left her baby on the bench before boarding a bus back to Surat Thani.

Burmese workers in the Patong area told police Ei Ei used to work at a local Indian food restaurant before she moved to Surat Thani to work as a rubber tapper. Ei Ei allegedly told police she is not in the position to raise a child.

In earlier reports, police said the baby is healthy and does not appear to have any injuries.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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