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Phuket beach turf war heats up as officials look to remove restaurants

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket beach turf war heats up as officials look to remove restaurants | Thaiger

PHUKET: With Maitree Intusut landing on the island on Monday as the newly appointed Phuket Governor, officials in Cherng Talay are wasting no time in their attempt to make a fresh start in clearing encroaching restaurants from the sands of Surin Beach.

While Governor Maitree and his wife, Mrs Palinee, were wading through throngs of well wishers welcoming the couple at Phuket International Airport, Ma-ann Samran, the president of the Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor), was briefing his officers on his plan to clear encroachers from the beach.

“I will draft a letter to the governor requesting his support to establish a zone at Surin Beach, inside which only local people will be allowed to operate as food vendors,” Mr Ma-ann explained to the Gazette.

If the plan is approved with the support of the governor, Mr Ma-ann will have the power to clear any structures from the beach, including the long-debated “sea break” in front of Pla Restaurant.

The sea break became the focal point of high tension between local officials and the restaurant owners in September last year when a raid by 30 officers was called off at the last minute due to orders from Thalang District Chief Narunart Suwanpratheep.

The officers, acting under orders from Tri Augkaradacha, the Phuket governor at the time, were told to stand down after Chief Narunart issued a letter giving the owners of Pla Restaurant the right to keep the sea break, as it “helped protect against coastal erosion”.

The sea break also conveniently allowed Pla Restaurant to extend its tables and chairs closer to the water’s edge, effectively dividing the beach in two. No other restaurant along Surin Beach is permitted the same privilege.

“The owners of Pla Restaurant said they would remove the structure after staging one last large event on the beach last year. They still haven’t removed it,” Mr Ma-ann said.

“I do not have the power to order those vendors off the beach. Even if we receive a complaint that someone is encroaching on the beach, can we go and inspect it, but we cannot do anything substantial,” he added.

Mr Ma-ann explained that the Cherng Talay OrBorTor, as a local administration, is “less powerful” than the Thalang District Office, rendering the OrBorTor powerless to act against the district chief’s order last year.

He hopes the result will be different this time around.

Both Governor Tri and Chief Narunart retired on September 30. Mr Ma-ann expects to file his request within the coming days.

“I understand that everyone needs to make a living, but it needs to be contained so we can preserve the natural beauty that all tourists come to Phuket for, and the reason why they spend time at the beach restaurants.

“I am not going to stand and point at any particular person or business, but I will do my best to get a budget to develop the area for everyone’s benefit,” he added.

As a new Thalang District Chief has yet to be appointed since the retirement of Mr Narunart last week, Udom Siripreukphong, the Chief Administrative Officer at Thalang District Office, is now Acting District Chief.

“I have heard about this problem, and I have assigned another senior officer to investigate which laws apply in this case,” Mr Udom told the Gazette.

“I know no other details. If you want to know more, you will have to come and interview the officer in person,” he added.

— 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.

Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Education

Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation”

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Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Student protests led to one student not graduating due to being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”

After participating in protests for student’s rights, a Phuket student was barred from graduating 9th grade, moving from middle school to high school, charged with being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”. The student had advocated against mandatory uniforms and for student’s liberties. He told reporters that the school started paying attention to his actions last year when he participated in rallies in solidarity with students across Thailand. The school’s student affairs office received a copy of posts he made on social media encouraging others to join the cause. The school ordered a stop to his political actions, but he and his friends disregarded warnings and violated school rules when they handed out white ribbons to classmates. They received a warning from the student affairs office.

Student protests have increased after pro-democracy demonstrations surged in July last year, empowering many Thai people to speak out against injustices, including students’ rights and liberties. People from schools across the nation have been banding together in solidarity to bring their issues to public light.

On graduation day, all the students were promoted into high school, except for the one student protestor, says the Bad Student protest group. The theme of the day focused on dedication to the monarchy, country and religion, and specifically how students should be obedient. The student said he has received support from friends, but his parents remain neutral and his teachers have been completely silent on the matter. He is frustrated that he was punished for his right to express himself. He plans on testing with incoming students to re-enrol in the same school, and if he is not accepted because of the disloyalty charge, he will pursue legal ramifications, suing the school for blocking his right to an education over the student’s protests.

The student believes he needs to speak out to prevent school administrators from imposing on more students’ rights. He advocates for diversity in schools and ending prejudices, with increased liberties and freedoms for students.

“Schools must teach children to be able to think by themselves, not force children to think like them. Schools should create opportunities for students to express their ideas more freely.”

SOURCE: Prachatai

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket

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16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket | Thaiger
iTrip.com

Phuket is reporting 16 more infections today. It follows visits from Bangkok and last weekend’s Kolour Beachside parties that have resulted in a number of new Covid infections. The number of new infections has reached 26. But deputy governor Vikrom Jakthee says the province has been successful in containing the new outbreak “due to its quick response measures which now include shuttering bars and nightlife venues.

One of the confirmed cases is a male teacher from Headstart International School in Kathu who, after attending the parties on the weekend, was back teaching students on Monday and Tuesday. The school has sent a letter to all parents advising them of the situation and organising testing for anyone who may have come in contact with the teacher.

The closure order in Phuket comes just as the island province was expecting to get an influx of visitors for Songkran, the Thai New Year. Many bar and club owners were expecting some increased traffic during the holiday week. Phuket officials say they will explain to bar and club owners why they decided to close the venues during the critical week for business.

Vikrom previously cited the start of the island’s Covid vaccine roll-out of Covid starting to head towards a herd immunity in time for the province’s proposed July reopening to international tourists. But he admitted that the sudden appearance of the coronavirus on the island again will force officials to reevaluate the schedule for reopening. He also said that almost all cases were in younger age groups of people in their 20s and 30s.

“Today, the number of infected people reported in Phuket has reached 26, many are from entertainment venues. This figure is relatively high. It jumped from 10 to 26 cases. We will invite operators of entertainment places in for discussions.”

Partygoers who went to any of the Kolour Beachside parties in Phuket last weekend are being asked to visit a local hospital for a Covid test. The parties hosted more than 3,000 people, drawing concern after a musician tested positive for Covid-19, having attended all 3 parties. The Phuket Provincial Government and Phuket Provincial Public Health Office released a statement yesterday advising all partygoers to get tested.

“Those who attended the Kolour parties from April 2 to 3 at Shelter Phuket Dance & Night Club in Patong, Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala and Illuzion nightclub on Bangla Road in Patong are asked to get tested.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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