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Yingluck’s Cabinet called on to answer Phuket ICEC debacle

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Yingluck’s Cabinet called on to answer Phuket ICEC debacle | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Phuket MP Anchalee Vanich Thepabutra yesterday stood in Parliament and called for the government to answer why the 2.6-billion-baht project to build a Phuket International Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC) was cancelled.

The news of the cancellation was never announced by the government, prompting Ms Anchalee to break the news through her Facebook page last week.

Despite being lobbied to review the decision as she entered the mobile Cabinet meeting on Koh Samui last Sunday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has remained silent on the issue.

Yesterday, MP Anchalee formalized the calls for the government to answer why the project was cancelled, by posing the question in Parliament.

She also asked the Cabinet to clarify exactly where the 2.6bn baht for the project, provided through a World Bank developmental loan, had gone.

Branding the Cabinet “narrow-minded”, Ms Anchalee explained that the funds for the project were secured through the Thai Khem Kaeng (“Strong Thailand”) fiscal stimulus program rolled out by the Democrat government under former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva.

“Former PM Abhisit devised a plan under which Bangkok would become the hub for Asean tourists and Phuket the gateway for international tourists, with 2.6bn baht allocated to building a Phuket ICEC and 2.3bn baht to building the Chiang Mai ICEC,” Ms Anchalee explained.

“At that time, people asked PM Abhisit to re-allocate the 2.3bn baht dedicated for the Chiang Mai ICEC to other projects, but he didn’t because he believed the ICEC would be a very good opportunity for the people of Chiang Mai to boost their income generated through tourism.

“Today, the Chiang Mai ICEC is a reality and ready to open,” she said.

Ms Anchalee argued that the 2.6bn baht dedicated for the Phuket ICEC did not affect the current budget as the funds were allocated years ago

“The Phuket ICEC was planned to open by 2015, in time for the AEC [Asean Economic Community].

“Also, the 5.7bn baht budget to expand Phuket International Airport, a project that is now underway, was approved with the understanding that the Phuket ICEC would be built,” she added.

Phuket generates about 180bn baht a year through tourism, second only to Bangkok, which generates about 400bn baht a year, Ms Anchalee pointed out.

“People all along the Andaman seaboard expect a lot from this project, that [the Phuket ICEC] will boost income generated through tourism. It is a project that is worth every single baht in investment.

“People are now saying that the government has ‘robbed’ them of the project. They want to know why the project was cancelled. They want an answer,” she said.

Prime Minister’s Office Minister Worawat Ua-apinyakul responded with the repeated explanation that the project had failed to pass its Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] requirements.

“The Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning [ONEP] has not approved the project because there was a problem with the EIA. They believed that the site where the ICEC was proposed to be built upon is a beach where turtles lay their eggs and as the last remaining ‘pristine’ mangrove forest in Phuket – that it should be a protected area,”he said.

Mr Worawat in turn blamed former PM Abhisit for his government failing to provide an EIA that passed ONEP requirements

Mr Abhisit responded, “That is simply not true. Every project has its processes and every project has its problems – The current government under the Pheu Thai Party has been running the country for more than a year, but the government has done nothing about the Phuket ICEC

“It could have extended the deadline so that the problems could be resolved, but it chose not to,” he said.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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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 prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

Maya Taylor



Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth



Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

Police tracked down and arrested a Burmese woman who allegedly left her newborn baby on a bench in Phuket’s Patong area last week. The mother faces charges of abandoning a baby.

The newborn was left in a reusable shopping bag on a bench behind a Krungthai Bank branch. A woman in the area heard the baby crying and found the newborn in the bag along with a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing. Police reviewed surveillance camera footage shows a woman, police later identified as Ei Ei Phyu, leaving the bag on the bench.

Police say the woman gave birth on September 9 at a local hospital in Surat Thani’s Phun Phin district. Ei Ei allegedly took a van from Surat Thani to Phuket on September 22 and stayed with a friend in Patong. The early the next morning, she allegedly left her baby on the bench before boarding a bus back to Surat Thani.

Burmese workers in the Patong area told police Ei Ei used to work at a local Indian food restaurant before she moved to Surat Thani to work as a rubber tapper. Ei Ei allegedly told police she is not in the position to raise a child.

In earlier reports, police said the baby is healthy and does not appear to have any injuries.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation



Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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