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Phuket’s Burmese community ‘delighted’ with Suu Kyi visit

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket’s Burmese community ‘delighted’ with Suu Kyi visit | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Aung San Suu Kyi, the famed Burmese pro-democracy leader, arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday night on her first international trip in 24 years.

As reported in The Nation, Thailand was a perfect destination for the woman who spent 15 years under house arrest, as it would give her a chance to meet many people from Myanmar, including some of the millions of migrant workers from that country.

Mrs Suu Kyi yesterday visited Samut Sakhon province, where she met Burmese migrant workers, some of whom have not returned home to two decades. She also discussed migrant workers’ issues with senior provincial officials, representatives of migrant workers as well as NGO staff members who raised several issues related to migrant workers in Thailand.

Many migrant workers told Thai media that Mrs Suu Kyi’s visit would mean a lot to them, as it would give them encouragement and support. Some said they could not believe they would get to meet the Nobel Peace Prize laureate in person.

Phuket, with its booming real estate market, is another popular destination for migrant workers from Myanmar who seek employment. Estimates by officials here place the number of Burmese migrant workers in the province at anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000.

Than Soe Lux, a 38-year-old Burmese building contractor in Phuket, who has been in Thailand for 18 years, told the Gazette that he was unaware that Mrs Suu Kyi was in Thailand.

“But I’m happy to be told of this. If I lived near Samut Sakhon I would go and see her. If I had a chance to talk to her, I would like to congratulate her on her successful election and ask her about how she plans to develop our country,” he said.

“I would like to know how she is going to help us solve the unemployment problem in Myanmar, and when Myanmar workers who live abroad will be able to return to find good jobs there,” he added.

Khin Khin Soe, a Burmese worker at the Phuket office of the World Vision Foundation in Thailand, was well aware that Mrs Suu Kyi was in the country.

“My Burmese friends and I were talking about the visit just last night. We are all so happy that she finally has the freedom to visit Thailand. We have been talking about it a lot recently and we are delighted. Every Burmese I know in the community is happy for her,” she added.

“We wish she would come to Phuket. If I had a chance to meet her, I would like to give her a hug and tell her how happy I am for her,” she ended.

Mrs Suu Kyi was invited to the World Economic Forum on East Asia to meet leading international business figures and express her vision for reform and the future of her country. She will be in Thailand until Sunday, June 3.

After her session at the World Economic Forum which is on today and tomorrow, Aung San Suu Kyi will travel to the border districts of Mae Sot and Tha Song Yang in Tak province on Saturday to see refugees who fled conflict and war at home in Myanmar.

Additional reporting by Chutharat Plerin.

— Orawin Narabal

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

International Schools

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the Chalong police leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Tourism

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festivalis set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Thailand

Covid tourism standstill gives Thailand’s southern sea gypsies a break

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Covid tourism standstill gives Thailand’s southern sea gypsies a break | The Thaiger

Phuket’s sea gypsy communities are getting a much needed break after the Covid tourism standstill have their traditions a break from the tourism onslaught. 42 year old Sanan Changham says now there is an abundance of fish and shellfish to eat. Tourist boats have been docked at the quay, making fishing easier for the Chao Lay, or “people of the sea.“

“We don’t dive as deep as before, so it’s less dangerous.“

More than 9 million visitors came to Phuket in 2019, impacting the sea gypsies and their way of life, mostly located at the southern end of the island. The booming tourism brought a decline in fish stocks, decreasing fishing grounds and loud construction of hotels. And the traffic. Such hotels signal an even bigger threat to the 1,200 Chao Lay in Rawai, as property developers have tried to evict them from their ancestral strip of land that faces the sea.

Ngim Damrongkaset, a Rawai community representative, says he hopes the area where developers have taken a stake is abandoned.

“They want to drive us out of our homes, but also to deny us access to the sea.”

For the Chao Lay people, the fight to keep their land has been unequal as most are illiterate and were unaware of the fact that they could register their land, but the government is trying to help them. One way for authorities to buy the land and entrust it to them.

Narumon Arunotai, an anthropologist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, says the government must seize the opportunity provided by the pandemic to rethink their vision on Chao Lay.

“Covid is an opportunity to change mentalities. Mass tourism in Phuket has been a catastrophe for the sea gypsies.“

The land in Rawai was originally claimed by Indonesian ancestors of Sanan, before the island became flooded with international travellers. But since tourism has become more profitable, authorities have cracked down on the sea gypsies unless they are sailing in protected marine reserves.

“Before, we risked being arrested by a patrol or having our boats confiscated.“

For the animist Chao Lay the beach is a vital space where they keep their colourful wooden boats and where they pray and give thanks to their ancestors. But not only their unique cultural heritage has helped them navigate the waters.

The Chao Lay people are experts at detecting any abnormalities in the water, as such they were able to escape before the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami hit, while saving loads of tourists. Furthermore, Children of the Moken have 50% better visual acuity in the water than their European counterparts, according to a 2003 study.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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