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Phuket’s Eva Beach responds to probe into legality of beachfront resort

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket’s Eva Beach responds to probe into legality of beachfront resort | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The management of The Eva Group has issued a statement in response to an inspection carried out earlier this year by a chief judge and a team of experts into an upscale property project under construction in Rawai.

Tawatchai Sontiwanit, chief judge of the recently formed environmental division of the regional Administrative Court responsible for Phuket, led the inspection ahead of a trial in which Rawai Municipality and the provincial standing committee for approving initial environmental evaluations (IEEs) and environmental impact assessments (EIAs) are named as the accused (story here).

Nitisak Chobdamrongtham of the Architect Council of Thailand joined as an expert witness.

The trial centers on whether or not the project in question breaches the building code and whether the building permits for the site were issued illegally (story here).

The statement was issued by a member of top-level senior management at Eva Beach Co Ltd whose identity was confirmed by the Phuket Gazette. However, the person declined to be publicly named.

In honoring Eva Beach’s right of reply concerning the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the building permits for the resort, the Gazette presents the statement in full, unedited:

“Eva Beach would like to explain and make the clear understanding to all Gazette‘s readers who have read the articles published on the 14-20 February 2015 issue that Eva Beach has legally constructed the buildings in the Project by obtaining the legitimate approval from the provincial standing committee of experts’ consideration of the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) on 15th June 2010 and Phuket Governor, being the chairman of the committee, has signed on the approval letter to the Project on 16th July 2010. The committee was comprised of representatives from government agencies and private sectors i.e. Phuket Governor, Office of Public Works and Town Planning, Phuket Provincial Land Office, Government Marine Office of Phuket, Phuket Provincial Office of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and Rawai Municipality etc.

“During the Committee’s meeting on 15th June 2010, nobody in the meeting, including the Office of Public Works and Town Planning of Phuket, disagreed or opposed to the IEE report or brought up that Eva Beach did not comply with the laws or any regulations. Thus, the Office of Public Works under Mr. Wongsakorn Noonchukhan did not object anything in the report of Eva Beach Project, and the meeting accordingly passed the resolution to approve the IEE report of Eva Beach Project, then Rawai Municipality, who is obliged to, considered and issued for us the building permit according to the building control act B. E. 2522 and Enhancement and the Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act B.E. 2535 (1992), all done by legal process.

“By obtaining the building permit, Eva Beach has legally proceeded the construction all along, the MNRE Phuket Office has also followed up the project construction after the IEE report being approved due to their policy and the officers did visit the project site for the inspection several times including the committee of Natural Resources and Environment of the Senate (the other government agency, apart from the ones who had attended in such meeting of approval), there is never an order to Rawai Municipality to withhold the construction of Eva Beach Project, consequently it points out that all government agencies did agree in the same way, is it possible that all government officers in all agencies did not act in good faith?

“The real problem of this issue is the difficulty of the government officers to consider the IEE report of the projects situated near the coastline according to the existing laws or regulations, not only Eva Beach Project who has to confront with this problem, but Eva Beach has been severely affected by the individual who lost the benefit, trying to use the laws and government officers as a tool, not as a good intention to act for the common interest as it was claimed.

“Eva Beach believes that many projects which are situated near the coastline will understand and sympathize the government officers, who are obliged to act according to the laws; the current issue which is not yet settled and creates difficulty to the government officers and private sectors is To determine the distance of the coastline in each local area as the topography is varied, with or without sand or beach, some with rocks or mountain slope etc. The key variant which always changes from time to time is the tide level influenced by the daily wind and waves due to the radical and rapid changes of global environment and climate resulting to the broader beach area or accretion by the deposition of soil at the coastline in some areas, or there might be no remaining beachfront area caused by the seawater erosion, that’s why the coastline area can be always changed, so we cannot use only the Global Positioning System or GPS: a space-based satellite navigation system to determine the exact location. When anyone requests the government officer to inspect how far from the site to the coastline in different time, it might be at time or lowest tide or highest tide, so the result will be different each other, even neighborhood areas. In addition, the notification of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment “territory and environment protection measure for Phuket province B.E. 2546 (2003)” gave the definition that “coastline” means the line designated for the benefit of measurement according to this notification deeming the natural highest tide as the criteria. From the definition, there must be a government agency to take control and determine the distance from the coastline around Phuket Island to be in compliance with the said notification, so the Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO) of Phuket has initiated the project to inspect and pin the control traverse marks at the coastline around Phuket Island by evaluating the ordinary highest tide level from the statistics of the tide meter at Koh Taphao Noi (Phuket) measured station, Hydrographic Department under Royal Thai Navy for the purpose that the government agencies and officers can use as a reference for the distance of the coastline around Phuket Island. When POA completed the project, Phuket Provincial Office of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) sent a letter of request for the information of the control traverse marks to be used as a guideline for the consideration of IEE approval. After that, in the committee meetings to approve IEE reports for the any projects situated near the coastline, the committee of experts will refer to the control traverse marks made by PAO for the consideration whereas most people still do not clearly and correctly understand for the term of coastline.

“Currently, the government agencies are still unable to accurately determine the distance to be generally accepted among all government agencies and private sectors, so this is an oppressiveness of the officers; they are obliged to perform the job but if there is any mistake, they have to take responsibility. We hereby would like to plead for the understanding and sympathy toward the duty of the officers that they had to be blamed and got in trouble. Anyway, Eva Beach will not intervene the consideration of the judge at the Regional Administrative Court; it should be followed by the procedure of the justice which is quite meticulous and containing a lot of facts and concerning to many provisions of laws, it’s hard to clarify in full details.

“Lastly, Eva Beach believes that if there is the revision of laws and regulations to be coherent as a single criteria or guideline to perform the job, all parties will not get into trouble, the government officers can work pleasantly, nobody would like to corrupt upon the vagueness of the law without fear of what might happen.”

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

Phuket

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Bill Heinecke speaks to Bill Barnett. The two heavy-hitters of Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector, mull over the current Covid situation and the reopening of Thailand’s borders to some form of tourism. Bill Heinecke is the Chairman and Founder of Minor International.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of c9hotelworks.com

Now the Thai government has approved the special long-term tourist visa scheme (STV), hoteliers are remaining skeptical about reopening due to the lack of clarity in the recent announcement, which will reportedly take effect next month. The president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says more hoteliers will consider reopening if the government gives further information about the plan in terms of prospective markets, arrival dates, origin countries, and flights.

Such details would allow hotels to prepare themselves ahead of time to offer services as alternative state quarantine premises as at least 60 hotels in Phuket are awaiting approval to operate such facilities.

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Bangkok

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

Caitlin Ashworth

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Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Suhyeon Choi

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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