Village chiefs bitter at ‘no guns&’ decision
PHUKET: Village leaders have protested over an Interior Ministry decision to stop awarding guns to village leaders who are voted provincial Kamnan or Phu Yai Baan of the Year. The Kamnan and Phu Yai Baan traditionally act as mediators in village disputes and are also responsible for security when police are not available. To this end, they are entitled to carry weapons. Members of Kamnan-Phu Yai Baan Club of Phuket made their protest in a letter handed to Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi on Thursday by club deputy Kecha Cheuchid. The Minister of the Interior, Purachai Piemsomboon, ruled last month that, from now on, the best Kamnan in each province should get a cash prize of 15,000 baht and the best Phu Yai Baan 10,000 baht. Next Saturday (August 10) is Kamnan-Phu Yai Baan Day when provincial winners are traditionally awarded a gold badge, a uniform and a .38 pistol. K Kecha told the Gazette that the gun, carrying the lion’s-head logo of the ministry, was seen as a status symbol. The tradition had been observed since 1973 but was abandoned on July 22 without consultation. K. Kecha said the members of the club knew minister’s order was not likely to be changed but their protest was to show they disagreed with it. “If they change from the gun to a certificate, then a shield would be better than money,” K Kecha added. He said he believed that winners of the award in other provinces planned to protest by boycotting the awards ceremony, or by giving the award money to charity. It would be up to the individuals in Phuket how they registered their disapproval, he added. The best Kamnan in Phuket this year is Sin Polrob of Moo 2, Tambon Rawai, and the best Phu Yai Baan is Kajorn Songyot, chairman of the Kamnan-Phu Yai Baan Club of Phuket and Phu Yai Baan of Moo7, Tambon Srisoonthorn. The Ministry of the Interior has been pursuing a policy of reducing the number of legal and illegal firearms in Thailand.
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