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Patong Mayor unmoved by beach vendors’ pleas

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Patong Mayor unmoved by beach vendors’ pleas | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup on November 1 dug in her heels against alleged public land encroachment by Patong Beach food vendors.

A three-hour meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall between Patong Municipality officials, Phuket Provincial officers and beach vendors ended without any definite conclusion, which Mayor Chalermluck attributed to the fact that beach vendors ‘never made good on their promises’.

“I am sick of chasing these vendors around. It has been two years since the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) ordered the beach clearance campaign in 2014. We have been very patient and helpful toward the vendors. However, we’ve had it with their disobedience, and must do our job, which is to follow the law. Meanwhile, we will try our best to reach a compromise,” said Mayor Chalermluck after the meeting chaired by Phuket Vice Governor Teera Anantaseriwidhya.

“It is not true that we are picking on the vendors. We are just trying to do our job and strike the best balance between following the law and taking care of people under our jurisdiction. I am sure that all the vendors know what is going on. We have designated a place for them to sell food, but they have been complaining that it is not a prime location, because tourists do not come to that area. Therefore they set up shop on the beach, which is totally against the law and not what we signed a contract for,” she explained.

“How many times have you broken your promises in the past? What’s illegal is illegal, and you must accept our decision,” she said to the vendors during the meeting.

The meeting came about after a group of 30 vendors filed a complaint with the Damrongdhama Center (Ombudsman’s Office) against Patong Municipality on October 27, after being given a cancellation notice of their rental contracts (story here).

The vendors, who currently occupy food stalls at the Loma Building, located at Loma Park on Patong beachfront, asked the governor to intervene in the municipality’s plans to build a conference hall in the area where they operate their business.

Led by Suriya Sinsoke, the group handed a letter of complaint to Phuket Provincial Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) Tamrongwat Kongkaew, who accepted the letter on behalf of Phuket Governor Chokchai Dejamornthan.

She said that in 2013, Patong Municipality informed all business owners that their rental contracts would gradually be cancelled and that the area would be reclaimed by the municipality. The current notice gives them 15 days to clear out.

Mayor Chalermluck said that the vendors had been using the public beachfront area to conduct their businesses and some of them had several months of outstanding rent payments.

“Some of the vendors have been setting up their stalls and furniture on the beach, which is in violation of the beach management rules. In order to keep things orderly, we asked them to move to the space inside the Loma Building that the municipality has provided,” said Mayor Chalermluck.

She added that the municipality also made efforts to clean up the building and provide running water and electricity so they wouldn’t have to set up their stalls outside.

“Although they agreed to stay off the public area, many of them still set up shop there. We even had Navy officials talk to them several times, but they continue to sell items outside the building. So we had no choice but to cancel their contracts and give them notice,” said Mayor Chalermluck.

She added that since a budget had already been approved for renovation of the building and that the vendors do not utilize the building anyway, the municipality has decided to use the money to build a conference hall.

“We were not given any advance notice or the chance to attend a public hearing on the matter. This decision will affect the livelihood of all the vendors and staff, which totals more than a hundred people and their families,” said Ms Suriya.

The vendors are now requesting that the governor make an urgent decision about whether the contract cancellation is fair and also to check if the conference hall construction is following all legal processes.

They also requested that the governor ask the municipality to reconsider the cancellation, or to designate new areas for them in the proposed building-improvement master plan.

Additionally, if the project is to go ahead, they want the municipality to provide a temporary site for them to set up their stalls while construction of the meeting hall is ongoing.

Ms Suriya and a few representatives of the local vendors pleaded with Mayor Chalermluck during the meeting to allow them to sell food in the building and promised they would follow the law.

“We beg you to allow us to earn a living. We are willing to coordinate with the municipality,” said Ms Suriya.

One of the vendors, Wannee Kesakomon, 57, shed tears in the room, asking Mayor Chalermluck to change her mind.

“We have been working there for decades. This is our only means of living and we have mouths to feed. Please have some sympathy,” said Ms Wannee.

Vice Governor Teera tried to convince the mayor to allow the locals to continue to sell food in the building. However, Mayor Chalermluck declined, saying she does not believe the vendors will follow the rules as per her past experience.

“Who will guarantee they will not break the rules again?” she asked. “We are going around in circles. There will be no change or conclusion from this meeting. I will talk to the Patong Municipality council and see what the next step will be.”

She also added that the municipality sometimes turned a blind eye in order to enable vendors to earn a living, but the vendors never seemed to have enough of it. She said that she could not allow this to carry on, as officials are punishable for dereliction of duty under Section 157.

V/Gov Teera said he understood both parties’ concerns, but could not deviate from the law. “The municipality has to do their job based on the law. They can try to help locals, but only if the law allows. It is what it is – if we cannot come to a conclusion at this stage, the issue may go to court for the judges to decide,” he said.

Mayor Chalermluck did not commit to a date when she would update the locals about feedback from the municipality.

“They have all known ahead of time that this would happen. The first group’s contracts ended on March 31, the second group’s on October 31 and only Ms Suriya’s contract ends on December 31. The March 31 group begged us to extend their contract, so we agreed to let them be until October 31, since our new project had yet to be started at the time,” explained Mayor Chalermluck.

“Now they have turned around and filed a complaint against us. It does not make any sense. We have rules, and they must be followed. That is it. This is not a decision I am handing down on my own. The new building has passed all the required processes by law and we have already set aside a budget for it.

“The vendors did not even want to sell food in the building to begin with, so now we will utilize it for the public’s benefit. We expect to turn it into a meeting room, which won’t work if vendors are allowed to sell food there,” said Mayor Chalermluck.

— Chutharat Plerin



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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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Phuket

Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit

Tanutam Thawan

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Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit | The Thaiger

VIDEO & SCREENGRAB: M Today

The Palang Pracharath member of parliament from Bangkok, Sira Jenjaka, had an argument with Lt Col Pratuang Polmana, Deputy Superintendent of Karon Police during his inspection to the controversial Peak Condominium in the Karon area of Phuket.

MP Sira was surveying the construction site of the project and the sales office, which also serves as a coffee shop, where he saw Lt Col Pratuang inside.

He stopped there and asked why the Deputy Superintendent didn’t send any officer from Karon Police Station to provide security for him, a standard protocol when parliament members visit a specific area.

The MP had publicly stated he had received death threats for revealing ‘problems’ with the ‘paperwork’ for the Phuket condo project that he claims has been built on land without the proper documentation.

Lt Col Pratuang said that he already prepared a team of officers to provide security for the MP but they were waiting for a confirmation. Then the MP asked his team to record a video of the conversation and said that, while he was not threatening anyone, he believed the police must respect and offer protection for a government MP who comes to work in the area, which was then followed by an argument.

There was a “middleman” who eventually separated the Deputy Superintendent and pulled him aside to calm him down. The ‘police whisperer’ then came back to apologise to the MP before they went inside the coffee shop for further private talks.

Read the original article about the allegations against Peak Condominiums in Karon HERE.

Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit | News by The Thaiger

The Peak Condominiums in Karon, currently under investigation after allegations made by Government MP Sira Jenjaka, who claims death threats have been made against him over the matter.

 

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Patong

How to be charged 2,600 baht for having a flat battery in the Jungceylon car park

Tim Newton

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How to be charged 2,600 baht for having a flat battery in the Jungceylon car park | The Thaiger

A rant…

Started off with trying to exit the Jungceylon carpark in Patong, Phuket, late on a Sunday night. After watching a film in their tawdry cinemas, I was assured by ticket sales staff that I should present my ticket stub with the car park card for free exit.

Getting to the exit gate and I was told I had to go to an ‘elevator’ to get my ticket stamped. As there were already three other cars behind me (it was around 9.30pm at this stage), it caused quite a kerfuffle and tempers (mine included) were starting to fray.

The poor woman at the exit booth (whose key work skill must be ‘patience’), kept yelling ‘elevator, elevator’, doing little to inform us what we were actually meant to do. (I wanted to leave a car park, not go on an elevator?!?).

Anyway, minor ‘misunderstanding’ sorted out soon enough, and returned to my car to exit the car park (about 10 minutes later).

A Russian man had had his own adventures with the Jungceylon car park the night before. Firstly he was stuck there on the Saturday night with a flat battery in his white sedan. As it was very late, and wanting to get home, he left the car in the space and took a taxi.

As I was sorting out my own car park ‘misunderstanding’, other car park staff assisted him with his flat battery by jump starting his car. The assisting staff were given a gratuity, I don’t know how much.

But on reaching the exit gate he was told he had to pay 1,800 baht. (Presumably for around 24 hours of car parking).

With his fist full of receipts, around 3,300 baht worth, he was also told ‘elevator, elevator’. He got out of his car, there were another three cars backed up behind him at this stage, and went to find the ‘elevator’. Upon returning he was now told he had to pay 2,600 baht! How the amount had magically inflated to 2,600 baht remains a mystery but the cark park ‘gatekeeper’ was not to be messed with.

By this stage about eight young Thai gentlemen, with name tags, keys hanging from their belts and hand-held radios, had turned up to ‘assist’ in addressing my complaints and ensuring that the Russian man was not able to leave the car park before paying the 2,600 baht. The only common language among the Russians and the Thais in the situation was English and it was not going well.

Google Translate was getting a fine workout but wasn’t really helping.

During the extended ‘negotiations’ the cars behind were detoured around and allowed free exit.

Given the man’s travails in having a flat battery, having to come back to the steamy car park late on a Sunday night, the cars piling up behind him and the loss of face for just about everyone at this stage, the ‘smart’, good PR thing to do would have been to thank him for spending 3,300 baht at their expensive shopping centre, lifted the boom gate and waved him on his way.

But no, these young Thai car park staff wanted their pound of flesh and there was no way in the world that barrier was going to be lifted until the man had paid every baht he ‘owed’. Three police turned up to try and sort things out but all departed in exasperation, knowing the car park staff were being pig-headed but unable to intervene because they would have caused their fellow Thais a loss of face.

At this stage the Thai car park staff were already starting to utter things under their breath and spitting out ‘farang’ in their deliberations.

During the entire two hour drama many other cars had the same issue of not understanding that they needed to report to the bottom of one of the ‘elevators’ to have their receipts stamped. There didn’t appear to be any signage or understanding of the procedure (until, of course, you go through this rather drawn out lesson in Jungceylon car park procedure). There was a sign outside the elusive ‘elevator’ but given there are seven other exits from the car park you’re unlikely to see them.

Apart from Jungceylon losing the patronage of at least two, or more, customers over their overly-officious and unprofessional behaviour, the system will surely remain unfixed waiting for the next stupid ‘farang’ to stroll innocently into the underground farrago.

The only bright light in the dingy car park fiasco was the pleasant young gentlemen sitting at the ‘elevator’ with his stamps and gracious smile, wearing full eye make up and blissfully unaware of the surly car park Nazis. He profusely apologised but I am fairly sure he was none-the-wiser about my lengthy explanation of the situation.

Give the man a pay rise!

For Jungceylon, I would urge better signage, in a few languages (it IS a tourist town), to inform us about their rather opaque car park procedures.

I did ask for a statement to include in this story from some of the ‘people with hand radios’ or a comment from the Manager. But there was none forthcoming. Our forum remains wide open for a response from management.

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Patong

Phuket’s lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety

Tanutam Thawan

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Phuket’s lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Lifeguard Service

A commemoration ceremony has been held for Prathaiyuth Chuayuan, a local Phuketian who helped drive Phuket’s first beach lifeguard services. He passed away on Friday morning after a heart attack.

He first experienced chest pains whilst delivering his daughter to school in Phuket Town on Friday morning, drove himself immediately to the Vachira Hospital nearby but succumbed to cardiac arrest around 9am.

He was 57 years old.

He worked with Australian lifesavers to help train local lifeguards and improve the skills of the Phuket’s beach enthusiasts, and finally sought international accreditation for the growing body of competent Phuket lifeguards.

The Phuket Lifeguards Service, founded and run by Prathaiyuth and his wife Witanya, saved innumerable lives each year whilst battling Provincial Hall and local government for increased funding in annual contract negotiations.

Daren Jenner, a FOT (Friend of The Thaiger) and local safety officer for the International Surf Lifesaving Association, sent a message to us expressing his deepest condolences to Prathaiyuth’s wife, family and friends.

“I had many good conversations with him over the years. He was a good-hearted man who did his best in difficult and changing circumstances. A very big loss for Phuket and the lifesaving community here. ISLA sends our deepest respect for his long commitment to ocean safety in SE Asia.”

Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger

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