PHUKET: Governor Nisit Jansomwong was forced to disband a mob of more than 100 Muslims protesters who were threatening to blockade the Phuket Panwa Beachfront Resort today.
The angry members of the Baan Ao Makham community, in Wichit, were demanding an explanation from the owner of the resort, who they said was behind a complaint filed about the level of noise created during the daily call to prayer.
The anonymous letter was originally filed to the Prime Minister’s Office, via the 1111 Complaint Center. It was then passed back down to Phuket through the Governor’s Office to the Phuket Cultural Office, whose officers presented it to locals, explained Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkaosuttirak.
The complaint stated that a loud speaker used by the Issatul Islam Ao Makham Mosque was blaring between 11pm and midnight, and from 5am to 6am, causing noise pollution and disrupting people in the area, Vice Governor Somkiet said.
Though the complaint was anonymous, Baan Ao Makham community leader Narong Koombann explained that the villagers were sure that the Phuket Panwa Beachfront Resort was to “blame”.
“The Chalet Phuket Boutique Resort and Restaurant, as well as the Bann Jom Thong villa are also located near the speaker, but they have never complained. They have always had a strong, peaceful relationship with the community over the last decade,” Mr Narong said.
“We believe that it must have been Phuket Panwa Beachfront Resort that filed the complaint. They have never had a relationship with the community – so we are here now to demand that they clarify the situation.”
However, Phuket Panwa Beachfront Resort General Manager Denis Martin confirmed to the Gazette that the resort hadn’t filed the complaint.
“We are glad to prove to the local people that we didn’t file the complaint,” Mr Martin said.
Mr Martin noted that he was concerned that despite about 30 per cent of their staff being from the local community, the complaint might lead to the resort being sabotaged.
At the scene today, the mob refused to allow any resort representatives to make a statement – demanding that only the owner make a statement in person.
“The points made in the complaint are not true. No mosque in the world prays at 11pm or midnight. We do pray early in the morning, but not 5am – it’s 5:30am, and we pray for no more than three minutes,” Mr Narong said.
Vice Governor Somkiet apologized to the locals for not having fully investigated the allegations.
“I must apologize up front about having failed to properly check all of the information included in the complaints before signing off on it,” Vice Governor Somkiet said.
A slew of officials were at the scene, including Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) President Paiboon Upatising and Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Samarn Chainarong. However, it took the presence of Governor Nisit to restore order.
“I called the resort owner, but the owner is busy with business in Bangkok and will be flying back to Phuket on February 26. We will meet the owner in front of the resort at 10am that morning to discuss the matter,” Gov Nisit told the crowd. “Please be patient.”
Local community members agreed to the governor’s wishes. However, they again threatened to blockade the resort if the owner failed to speak to them in person.
— Voratuss Intasee