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Phuket Sports: Turns, turncoats and turnups

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Sports: Turns, turncoats and turnups | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The big news last week was that Lewis Hamilton jumped ship after fourteen years with McLaren. I said a few weeks ago that I would be surprised and disappointed if he did so.

I’m disappointed, but was less surprised after watching, with a sense of awful foreboding, as his gearbox blew him from winner to DNF in Singapore. Hamilton is fragile and this incident helped, as the commentators noted, push him to Mercedes.

McLaren handled the negotiations badly with Hamilton’s managers XIX, who also moved Beckham from Real Madrid to the LA Galaxy. Parallels are clear, but while Beckham could rationalize a remunerative backwater for his autumn days, Hamilton is in early summer.

Is it a good move? The timing is awful.

Hamilton has to endure six races, during which, McLaren will isolate him from knowledge that could affect 2013. Niki Lauda, now non-executive chairman of Mercedes F1, is the opposite of Lewis Hamilton. Niki is a blunt no-nonsense fellow, whereas Lewis is “Master Cool”.

McLaren built the team around Hamilton, and Mercedes was built by Brawn with Schumacher. Hamilton will make more money, but at this stage in his career that is pretty academic. He will be in a car that will not win in 2013, when the McLaren could. If he does not win races, his popularity and self esteem could plummet.

Mercedes has won only one race in three years and has bet the ranch on the 2014 car. And now so has Hamilton.

Will Mercedes 2014 really outperform under the rule change that replaces the 2.4 liter V8 with a “greener” 1.6 liter V6 turbo? And remember, Bernie Ecclestone thinks the 2014 specification will be scrapped, saving 30 per cent of team budgets. Hamilton’s career might hang on this.

As a replacement, McLaren has taken Sergio Perez from under the nose of Ferrari, and that looks a good move.

There is circuit news too. Bernie Ecclestone has, in principle, agreed to a Bangkok Night Road GP (Grand Prix) with the Thai Government, but he is giving the New Jersey sponsors a hard time. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has approved the Austin Circuit, but France looks less likely to have a GP in 2013 as the government refused public funds.

Anyway, it’s on to Suzuka 2012, the only F1 circuit with a Figure of 8 layout; the back straight including an overpass above the out straight.

After the Start/Finish Straight and the first corner, Suzuka has several high speed flowing corners followed by the out straight and the hairpin.

Turn 12 leads to the double apex Spoon Curve, the back straight and the infamous high speed 130R. The 130 meter radius turn starting after the Crossover has seen serious accidents and is often compared to Spa’s Eau Rouge.

Finally the Casio Triangle Chicane takes drivers back to the Start/Finish Straight. All of this makes rhythm critical to speed at Suzuka.

The circuit demands a high downforce setup to ensure high speed stability. Engine power is important too, to run high wing levels. The abrasive surface and high speed corners mean high tyre degradation, exacerbated by high fuel demand, which means heavy cars.

Expect a lot of three-stop strategies. Strategy will be critical, and since it is a difficult circuit to overtake, qualifying is very important.

Suzuka rewards excellent aerodynamics, so Red Bull will be thirsting for another Vettel win. Alonso has a habit of qualifying fifth, if he can repeat that, and work his way to a podium finish, he will not be unhappy. Button is a perfect Suzuka driver, smooth and clean, and McLaren will not now sacrifice him for a Hamilton win. And Räikkönen has a good package for the race. We are promised sun, but at Suzuka, you never know.

It’s not over yet!

The race is on Sunday at 1pm, and the practice is on Saturday at 12pm. It is shown live on the Big Screen at The Green Man, Chalong. Click here for more information.

— The Digby

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Economy

70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses are closed, many for good

Caitlin Ashworth

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70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses are closed, many for good | The Thaiger
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Most tourism businesses in Phuket have closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and they probably won’t be up and running again until foreign tourists are let back in Thailand. Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew says around 70% of tourism businesses have closed, most of them just temporarily, but some have shut down permanently. But the statistics are not quite that simple, with the east side of the island, largely inhabited by locals with the central business district of Phuket Town and some of the more popular expat towns, doing far better than the tourist magnets of the west coast. The Thaiger estimates that on the west coast the number would exceed 90%.

Before the pandemic, tourism to Phuket brought in 450 billion baht a year with 400 billion baht from foreign visitors while the other 50 billion baht was from domestic tourists. Thailand has been trying to increase domestic tourism to help revive the industry after the pandemic. Phuket’s governor says it helps, but not enough.

“Their visits can help solve some of our economic problems, but they cannot replace the need of foreign tourists.”

66.8% of tourism businesses in Phuket have closed temporarily while 2.8% have closed permanently, according to data by the Digital Economy Promotion Agency. (Again the percentage along the west coast is MUCH higher – just take a drive through Paton, Kat, Karon). Phuket’s governor is trying figure out how to recover the economy. And fast.

“By the end of September, the number of businesses to be closed will increase up to 70% for sure.”

While many businesses are closed, the governor says Phuket is “almost 100% ready to welcome foreign tourists.” The governor says he can’t give an answer to when foreign tourists will arrive in Phuket, but he claims they’ve “prepared every step,” from checking in at the airport to hotel quarantine. They’re just going to install some new temperature check machines at the Phuket International Airport and review the procedures for welcoming the tourists.

“We have to work and prepare carefully to welcome foreign tourists… We have to gradually open our door to welcome small groups of people first, in order to test our system, and then open for bigger groups.”

At the moment, only 3 venues in Phuket have been approved to operate as alternative state quarantine facilities. Anantara Phuket Suites & Villas has 100 rooms available, Anantara Mai Khao Phuket has 36 villas and Trisara resort has 15 villas. All are 5 star venues with a commensurate 5 star cost.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s land rights. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has been condemned online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews, after he criticised anti-government protest leader, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Nimit Thian-udom says that, while the SSO’s investment does not break any laws, the board must explain the reasons behind the investment decision and clarify the return on that investment. In addition, he says the SSO should attach more importance to good governance when choosing where to invest.

The call for clarity is echoed by opposition MP Chirayu Huangsap, from the Pheu Thai Party, who calls on the Labour Minister to explain the investment. He adds that any discrepancies will be reported to both the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.

The land rights of the luxury Sri Panwa Phuket resort, which sits on prime land atop Phuket’s Cape Panwa, overlooking the south-eastern tip of the island, are also being called into question. Veera Somkwamkid, from the People’s Network Against Corruption, says he is looking into the property’s land rights and will pass his findings to the Department of Special Investigations.

For his part, the Labour Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built, saying it’s up to the DSI to investigate and that a complaint does not need to be filed in order for them to do so.

Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as anti-government netizens exact their revenge on the proprietor by posting negative feedback on the property.

“Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand

Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities | The Thaiger
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3 cities in Thailand recently joined UNESCO’s membership of so called “learning cities” which are said to promote “lifelong learning” and sustainable development. Chachoengsao, Chiang Mai and Phuket joined the UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities. Altogether, 55 cities from 27 countries, adding up to 230 cities in 64 countries around the world, according to UNESCO.

“These cities are outstanding examples of how lifelong learning can become a reality at local level. They have proven that effective lifelong learning policies and practices can support the development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and contribute to the 2030 Agenda.”

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning David Atchoarena says the recent new members have shown that they can make “lifelong learning a reality,” even after enduring the pandemic.

“With unprecedented urgency, the Covid-19-19 pandemic has underlined the necessity to build more resilient education systems for the future. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities must be at the centre of this undertaking.”

David says he hopes it will inspire other cities in Thailand to follow.

“I very much hope that we will see many other cities from Thailand joining the network and working on providing lifelong learning opportunities for all to ensure a sustainable and peaceful future.”

The mayor of Chachoengsao, Kolayuth Chaisang, says his goal is to provide “effective education, thoroughly and equally to all citizens.” According to the Bangkok Post, the city is a key urban centre both economically and culturally.

The mayor of Chiang Mai, Tussanai Buranupakorn, says he wants to revitalise the city, while also maintaining the cultural significance. The city has a number of educational institutes, which goes along with UNESCO’s learning city principles.

Phuket is a hub of sustainable creativity, according to the Bangkok Post. The mayor of Phuket, Somjai Suwansupana, says he wants to preserve the city’s “identity, local wisdom assets and the charm of our multiculturalism.”

SOURCES: UNESCO |Bangkok Post

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