PHUKET TOWN: After less than a month in office, Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura has announced that Phuket is ready to declare itself a “drug-free” province. The official announcement will be made at Saphan Hin on the evening of November 8, just before the traditional Loy Kratong Festival ceremony, and a long way ahead of the government’s target date of December 2. Gov Udomsak made the startling revelation at this morning’s monthly meeting of the Phuket Provincial government. He said Phuket had passed all Ministry of Interior criteria needed for a province to be listed as “drug-free” on October 20, less than three weeks into his term. The Governor specified efforts to suppress illegal drugs as a cornerstone policy objective when he took over the office in the annual civil service reshuffle on October 1. Drawing on the powerful symbolism of one of Thailand’s most sacred rituals, K.Udomsak said, “We will float away all bad things with the currents on Loy Krathong Night. Drug raids and crackdowns have allowed us to beat this problem, so we can now proudly announce our success.” Apart from the date, the intended site of the announcement is also significant – the Saphan Hin area has long been associated with teenage drug abuse and violence.
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