Trio bags Annual Phuket Community Service Award

PHUKET: The Phuket Gazette’s ‘Person of the Year Award’ for 2009 was abruptly forced into the plural ten days ago with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding to curtail Phuket’s extravagant use of plastic bags.

Our award is thus presented to the three driving forces behind that project: Dr Wiwat Seetamanotch, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Phuket Provincial Health Office; Mr Jirasuk Tummawetch, Director of the Phuket Provincial Energy Office; and Mr Nick Anthony of Indigo Real Estate.

It was they who recognized an urgent community need, enlisted the strong support of Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop, and ignited a groundswell of approval for the bag project among Gazette readers.

Although curtailment of plastic bag use is hardly an original idea, with various models in force in several countries around the world – and calls for it in many more – our award winners have distinguished themselves by achieving in Thailand what might well be described as ‘the near impossible’.

The Gazette is quick to appreciate that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) does not always herald successful implementation of anything, but we are prepared to take that risk in making these awards.

We also acknowledge that the project is currently limited to Phuket province alone, but see that as a major plus, given the greater odds of success with small-scale implementation and the opportunity for Phuket to set an important national trend.

Over the past few weeks we have published four pieces about the scope and progress of the bag project. All have met with high-volume comment – in letters to the editor, on web boards, and in personal exchanges with Gazette editorial and reportorial staff. The overwhelming majority of these readers have been highly supportive.

Where there have been opposing views, the issues cited have not been critical. They would be easy to fix post-implementation. For example, several have suggested that the proposed 2- or 3-baht charge for a plastic bag is too low to make a difference. But should that prove to be the case in practice, an adjustment to 5, or even 10 baht, is not difficult to imagine.

D-day for implementation is February 14.

The Gazette’s annual Person of the Year Award is for community service. It goes to that person who in the opinion of Gazette editors has done the most for Phuket based on reader feedback and nominations from local residents, Thai and expatriate.

Our runners-up for the award this year are each and every one of the retailers who appear as signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding. As we go to press, they are: Jungceylon, Central, Carrefour, Robinson, Supercheap, Big C, Phuket Grocery, Family Mart, 108 Shop, Index Living Mall, SB Furniture, Homepro, and many more.

— Gazette Editors

Phuket News
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