Connect with us


Phuket sea gypsies mob Thai PM, plead for rights



PHUKET: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrived at Phuket Airport this morning to be greeted by some 2,000 people protesting the need to protect their land usage rights and preserve traditional livelihoods.

The protesters, who collectively call themselves “PMOVE” (short for “Peoples’ Movement”), comprise sea gypsies and members of other landless communities from across the country.

In addition to the many people from Phuket, some members of the PMOVE network at the airport today traveled from Ranong, Phang Nga and Krabi provinces on the Andaman Coast, as well as Songkhla and Prachuap Khiri Khan on the Gulf Coast, and as far afield as Ubon Ratchathani in northeast Thailand.

As PM Yingluck made her way through the crowd outside the arrivals terminal, she was approached by PMOVE leader Tuttiporn Thippawong, who read a formal letter of complaint listing three main “issues of concern”.

The first issue raised was the right for sea gypsies to be allowed to continue fishing in marine national park waters using traditional methods.

“More than 20 sea gypsies from Rawai [at the southern end of Phuket] have been arrested and charged for illegally fishing in marine national parks. This [issue] affects more than 40 sea gypsy communities throughout Southern Thailand. We want the right to maintain our traditional lifestyle and livelihoods. This is how we support our families,” said Ms Tuttiporn, herself a sea gypsy and Phuket native.

The PMOVE leader also called for the government to issue “Community Chanote” land title deeds to allow landless communities to continue living on land they have occupied for a long time, many generations in some cases.

The Community Chanote scheme, created under the former Democrat government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, allows communities to live on the land and use it for agriculture, but does not allow the land to be sold.

However the current administration has not moved forward with the plan, reportedly out of fear that it could lead to more encroachment on state land.

Ms Tuttiporn explained to PM Yingluck that more than 2,000 sea gypsies living in Rawai were also facing forced eviction following the presentation by a developer of a land document covering much of the land their community sits on.

Problems faced by sea gypsy communities like the one in Rawai began to increase markedly after the 2004 tsunami disaster, she said.

The Phuket Gazette notes that the Rawai sea gypsies have lived – uncontested – at their current beachfront location at the southern of Phuket for at least three generations.

The issue of poor, local people being forced to relocate by developers who present land documents is hardly new in Phuket.

Some 2,000 families on Soi Kingkaew, a former mangrove forest in Rassada, were recently confronted with a similar threat.

Two other communities with PMOVE membership fighting similar battles on the island include the “Community Behind Rama IX Park” in Phuket Town and the “Khok Tanode Community” in Chalong.

PMOVE wants the government to set up an investigative committee to address the most pressing concerns faced by the communities in its network, such as overpriced water and electric power supply.

PM Yingluck agreed to this.

“I will look into it. The government will try to solve these problems for you. We will set up a special committee to look into and to come up with solutions,” PM Yingluck said.

After her encounter with PM Yingluck, Ms Tuttiporn told the Phuket Gazette, “We are happy to hear that the prime minister is willing to at least look into the problems. However, we will follow up to make sure the government is serious about addressing our concerns.”

In the run-up to the “mobile cabinet” at the Prince of Songkla University (PSU) Phuket campus tomorrow, PM Yingluck will today travel to Phang Nga to discuss funding for women’s groups in the Andaman region.

During her trip she is also scheduled to visit the Tsunami Memorial Monument as well as the beached Tor 813 Marine Police patrol boat that washed ashore at Ban Bang Niang, near Khao Lak, on December 26, 2004.

On returning to Phuket, the prime minister will inspect the site of the proposed Klong Koh Pee Road project in Wichit and open a One Tambon One Product (OTOP) fair at nearby Saphan Hin.

From there PM Yingluck is scheduled to inspect the meeting venue at the PSU Phuket campus on her way to the Hilton Arcadia Resort and Spa in Karon, where she will spend the night.

— Atchaa Khamlo


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand6 mins ago

Shopee Thailand to lay off about 10% of employees

Thailand16 mins ago

VIDEO: Colossal crocodile stomps through road in eastern Thailand

Thailand53 mins ago

Dogs that allegedly abandoned by foreigner are adopted

Sponsored2 hours ago

Starting a business and obtaining SMART Visa in Thailand is easy with Startup Booster

Events55 mins ago

Phuket Vegetarian Festival underway, avoid firecrackers

Politics1 hour ago

Burmese beauty queen granted safe haven in Canada

Weather2 hours ago

Tropical Storm Noru to hit northeast Thailand on Thursday

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand2 hours ago

Pattaya announces set prices & legal selling hours for beach services | GMT

Travel16 hours ago

10 Isan food you need to try at least once

Thailand17 hours ago

VIDEO: Floods tear through highway in northeast Thailand

Crime17 hours ago

13 murdered, including 7 kids by Russian neo-Nazi

Thailand17 hours ago

Vegetarian Festival on Yaowarat Road starts today

Thailand18 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Baht continues surge against strong dollar

Bangkok18 hours ago

VIDEO: Fire falls like rain from communication cables in Bangkok

Thailand19 hours ago

Father allegedy kills daughter’s cat for stealing his meatballs

Central Thailand19 hours ago

Whale watching season begins in Phetcha Buri

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11