Connect with us

Thai Life

Saving Phuket’s cultural heritage

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Old Phuket Foundation President Kawee Tansukatanon spoke last week to the Phuket Gazette about preserving the resort island’s traditions, community values, and unique heritage. Reporter Janpen Upatising, herself a Phuket native, filed this report:

Smartly dressed and upbeat, Kawee exhales and furls his lips in a smile as he recalls growing up in Phuket in the late 1960s.

He remembers roaming the mottled streets of Old Phuket Town with his friends, surrounded by family members and a strong sense of community ties and traditions. These were instilled in him from an early age, although now, at the age of 49, he admits they weren’t such a high priority for him in those early years.

But with age has come wisdom and a change in values, and today, as President of the Old Phuket Foundation, Mr Kawee’s priorities have shifted. Preserving local traditions and restoring faith in the customs of bygone eras are not only his personal goals, but also a job requirement.

Having taken up the role seven months ago after a 16-year stint as a Phuket Town Municipality officer, Mr Kawee finds that effectively promoting his traditionalist message demands a high level of commitment, research and outreach work within the local community.

Mr Kawee was also one of the co-organizers for the 12th annual Phuket Old Town Festival that drew to a close two weeks ago.

“The event was a success, but I still think many people just come to buy things at the stalls and shops, instead of focusing on the exhibitions and listening to the academic readings. Those were the important elements of the festival,” he said.

A major boon for heritage preservation may soon be on the cards for Phuket following the announcement last month that the Senate Committee had asked the Culture Ministry to secure a coveted United Nations heritage listing for buildings in Old Phuket Town.

The help of property owners in the area plays a big part in preserving the town’s architectural heritage, Mr Kawee said.

“Current property owners in Old Phuket Town have agreed to keep their Sino-Portuguese houses, as best as they possibly can, to the way they were when their grandparents lived in them,” he said.

“The community has really started to realize how important the architecture is,” he added. That some of the dwellings have been turned into guesthouses is a positive development because both foreign and domestic tourists love to stay in the area, he added.

Although his grandparents migrated from Fujian, China in the early 20th century, he thinks of himself as a local through and through and points to future generations as the next stewards of history.

“If Phuket’s traditions disappear, the younger generation may not know who their ancestors were or where they came from. It is about history and educating the young,” he said.

“If we keep pushing our message through cultural events, we have a chance of preserving our heritage for future generations – but we need help, from everyone.

— Janpen Upatising


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand39 mins ago

Royal Thai Police say bitterleaf can’t cure Covid

Coronavirus (Covid-19)59 mins ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 18,901 new cases, provincial totals

Thailand1 hour ago

Air Asia technician arrested for allegedly stealing electronics

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Pattaya2 hours ago

“Pattaya Move On” reopening likely to be postponed as Covid cases surge

Thailand2 hours ago

3 metre long python caught near family’s house in Phuket

Thailand3 hours ago

Government says not to buy Favipiravir/Avigan online, says it might be fake

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Phuket3 hours ago

Phuket bans alcohol sales at restaurants, issues order amid rise of Covid cases

Best of3 hours ago

Top 5 Mexican restaurants in Pattaya

Thailand4 hours ago

Good Morning Thailand | New restrictions, new Red Line train in Bangkok, Covid latest

Thailand4 hours ago

Ministry of Public Health says Pfizer vaccine will be allocated correctly, others disagree

Cambodia5 hours ago

Rollout of Covid-19 vaccination for teenagers gets underway in Cambodia

Phuket5 hours ago

Man goes missing off Freedom Beach, Phuket

Phuket5 hours ago

Phuket tourism sector calls for island to be “green-listed” for foreign tourists – VIDEO

Best of5 hours ago

Phuket’s best day trips and tours

Business5 hours ago

What is so important about the Sandbox?

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8