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Video report: New demolition plan brings Surin businesses to the ground

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Video report: New demolition plan brings Surin businesses to the ground | The Thaiger

PHUKET: A number of iconic beach clubs on Phuket were crushed during the demolition of the shop houses along the Surin Beach boardwalk yesterday (story here).

“We are not ruining Surin Beach; we are returning it back to the unobstructed, beautiful beach it once was,” Phuket Vice Governor Chokdee Amornwat insisted, attempting to explain to a group of stunned tourists who claimed that the government officers were destroying the beach. “It has been a very long process to clear these buildings from the public land. We have been very careful, taking it step-by-step.”

Ahead of the demolition of the beach clubs, the Twinpalms Group held a ‘One Last Time’ beach party on April 16, just days before staff would be scampering out of the facility before it was torn down by a pair of powerful backhoes.

“It was our last chance to say ‘thank you’ to those who have enjoyed, over the years, the utopia that rose along the Surin Beach shore, as well as the incredible dedication from all our employees who made it possible,” Twinpalms Group General Manager Olivier Gibaud said.

Catch Beach Club held one last big bash before the backhoes moved in. Video: PGTV

With the opening of Catch Beach Club by Twinpalms more than a decade ago, Surin Beach became well-known as Phuket’s most exciting and fashionable beach, with Catch leading the way in bringing fabulous dining and seaside experiences to beach lovers from around the world, Twinpalms said in a statement to the press.

The closure of Catch and Bimi comes as part of a government drive to honor and celebrate the Royal Family. Surin Beach was dubbed a ‘Beach of Honor’ by Vice Governor Chokdee at the end of last year, making it the third category of beach in the island’s ever-changing new management system.

Though the beach is unique for being the only one in this category, it is managed in the exact same way as those in the ‘virgin beach’ category, with no umbrellas, beach chairs or vendors offering any services or goods.

“This third category is set aside only for Surin, as HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej and HM Queen Sirikit visited its sands in 1959,” explained V/Gov Chokdee.

“This is one of the reasons we are working so hard to ensure that Surin is a beach basking in pure natural beauty.

“It will also be the perfect location for us to hold activities or exhibitions honoring the Royal Family.”

The beach clubs were among a number of businesses swept up in the National Council for Peace and Order’s (NCPO’s) campaign to ‘clean up’ Phuket beaches, demanding that local officials remove any and all illegal establishments on them. The campaign saw dozens of businesses receive eviction notices with a deadline date of June 2014.

Originally, only the parts of the clubs and businesses that extended to the beach side of the boardwalk on Surin Beach were demolished, with government assurance that the remaining structures would ‘most likely’ go untouched.

“The buildings were illegally modified, turning the entire area into a mess. It got to the point that it was impossible to even see the original structures,” V/Gov Chokdee said. “They started out as small businesses, but then it got completely out of control.”

The beach clubs, as well as the restaurants and other businesses on the east side of the Surin beachfront path, were occupying units originally built by the government.

Post-tsunami, the Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor) established 10 buildings on public park land next to the beach, each with two units, while the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (PPAO) constructed 16 buildings paid for by the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund of Japan.

The buildings were leased out to locals, who then allowed private businesses to operate at the facilities.

“The local government built the small stalls so that villagers could earn some money after the tsunami, back when Surin Beach was just a small, local beach,” said V/Gov Chokdee. “As time passed, more and more tourists came and the locals broke their contracts by leasing the shops to third parties. Suddenly, most of the buildings housed businesses backed by foreigners. It totally contradicted the intentions of the original agreement.”

Officers have not provided the Phuket Gazette with the original agreements, which allegedly state that locals were not to sub-lease the buildings.

“There were even venues selling alcohol, which is completely illegal, as the buildings are in a public park,” V/Gov Chokdee said.

“We admit that it comes down to a lack of law enforcement. However, we are working very hard on managing Phuket’s beaches,” he said, despite having already made it clear that the structures were not on the beach, but in the public park adjacent to Surin’s sands.

OrBorTor President Ma-ann Samran confessed to the Gazette last year that lease contracts to the locals had ended years ago. He pointed out that the government had not collected rent for years.

Twinpalms Group, which operates Twinpalms Phuket adjacent to Surin Beach, has continued to comply with government requests since the beginning of the saga in 2014, explained Mr Gibaud.

“Everything in life comes, lives and goes; we are very thankful to have had the opportunity to delight and be in the memory of many Catch and Bimi Beach Club guests over the years. This chapter of Catch Beach Club has drawn to a close, and everyone should be excited and look forward to the next,” he said.

The group has already gained some traction with the Palm Seafood Restaurant, Lounge and Bar on Bang Tao Beach and will be opening HQ Beach Lounge on Kamala Beach soon.

“I am extremely sad. I’ve come [here] on holiday 16 times in four years. I love Thailand. I love the people. I just think that it’s so sad that these people will have no work anymore. I feel very emotional about the people who are working at Twin Palms [Catch and Bimi] as well as the small shop owners. Where will they go?” asked Karin Mackiy, a 60-year-old Australian who witnessed the demolition.

V/Gov Chokdee assured those on Surin Beach yesterday morning that the government wasn’t going to abandon the locals.

“Impacted locals have been informed that they can register with the provincial government. We will find a place for them to earn a living,” he said. “Please be aware that the sacrifices we are making now are for the betterment of Phuket’s future and the happiness of the public.”

— Chutharat Plerin



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Phuket

Phuket tourist decides hotel awning more comfortable than his room

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Phuket tourist decides hotel awning more comfortable than his room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Rawai Rescue workers / Phuket Tourist Police

The Phuket Tourist Police have been notified that a tourist had jumped from a building in Rawai and ended up on a steel awning covering the bottom floor today. But that wasn’t, in fact, what had happened.

The local Tourist Police say the owner of the building told staff at the Tourist Assistance Centre that the tourist had checked into the room on February 13.

The tourist didn’t actually jump down from the building but had moved a mattress from his room on to the awning and slept on it (mosquitos!!) He was also drunk and damaged some property inside the room.

The man is a 37 year old Estonian tourist. He was staying at the room with a 25 year old male friend.

Chalong Police have charged them both with being drunk and damaging property. They have said that they will pay for all damages to the owner of the property. They are heading back home on February 26.

Phuket tourist decides hotel awning more comfortable than his room | News by The Thaiger Phuket tourist decides hotel awning more comfortable than his room | News by The ThaigerPhuket tourist decides hotel awning more comfortable than his room | News by The Thaiger Phuket tourist decides hotel awning more comfortable than his room | News by The Thaiger Phuket tourist decides hotel awning more comfortable than his room | News by The Thaiger Phuket tourist decides hotel awning more comfortable than his room | News by The Thaiger Phuket tourist decides hotel awning more comfortable than his room | News by The Thaiger

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Phuket

Patong motorbike racer arrested and fined – VIDEO

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Patong motorbike racer arrested and fined – VIDEO | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police yesterday arrested a motorbike racer after identifying him and his motorbike from video clips that were popular in social media this week.

Patong Police are investigating alleged foreign motorbike racing gangs in Patong after video clips went viral in local social media.

Read more about the racing around Patong’s streets HERE.

Patong Police report that they have now arrested one motorbike racer and charged him with the maximum fine.

Patong Police are also asking motorbike rental operators to explain basic traffic rules for motorbike drivers who want to rent a motorbike.

(The Thaiger is assuming this would be covered when they get their motorbike license, which they are required to have before a motorbike is rented to them.)

PHUKETForeigners racing around Patong. Who would have thought?! https://thethaiger.com/news/phuket/police-investigate-motorbike-hoons-in-patongVIDEO: เป็นปากเป็นเสียง

Posted by The Thaiger on Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Patong motorbike racer arrested and fined - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger Patong motorbike racer arrested and fined - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

 

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Phuket

500 free helmets handed out to motorbike drivers in Patong

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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500 free helmets handed out to motorbike drivers in Patong | The Thaiger

Patong Development Foundation together with Patong Police and Patong Municipality have given 500 helmets to motorbike drivers in Patong today under the campaign ‘Wear your helmet’.

Handing out the 500 helmets to motorbike user in Patong was led by Patong Police Chief Col Anothai Jindamanee, Patong Municipality Chalermluck Kebsup and President of Patong Development Foundation Preechawut ‘Prap’ Keesin.

Col Anothai says, “Many motorbike drivers have been injured and died in road accident. We want 100 percent of motorbike drivers and passengers wearing helmets. ”

“More motorbike riders are now wearing helmets as the number of not wearing helmet charges has been dropping in Patong with better enforcement.”

500 free helmets handed out to motorbike drivers in Patong | News by The Thaiger 500 free helmets handed out to motorbike drivers in Patong | News by The Thaiger 500 free helmets handed out to motorbike drivers in Patong | News by The Thaiger 500 free helmets handed out to motorbike drivers in Patong | News by The Thaiger 500 free helmets handed out to motorbike drivers in Patong | News by The Thaiger 500 free helmets handed out to motorbike drivers in Patong | News by The Thaiger

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