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Proud Phuket waves the flag in 2009: now real action is needed on Phuket

Honorary Consul Calls for Phuket Residents to Act 'Before it's Too Late'

Tuesday, May 17, 2011
PHUKET people must become active in protecting their island and preserving Phuket's long-term future as a tourist destination ''before it's too late,'' says German honorary consul Dirk Naumann.

''I believe Phuket is running out of time,'' Mr Naumann said. ''Unless changes come soon, it will be too late for this beautiful island.''

Mr Naumann, a veteran Phuket envoy, was making an emotional plea for greater Phuket community involvement in advance of the regular meeting between Phuket's honorary consuls and Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha on May 23.

The honorary consuls' gatherings with the governor every three months also include Phuket administrators and senior police and have become a place where some of Phuket's biggest problems are openly discussed. But more needs to be done, Mr Naumann said.

''Too many people on Phuket only seem to care about money,'' Mr Naumann said. ''It really is time for those who can see what is happening on Phuket to speak out, to show that they want Phuket to be a better place, a place that their children and grandchildren can continue to enjoy.''

Mr Naumann says that some Phuket people seem to think that the honorary consuls only meet with the governor because they are self-interested and selfish.

''That's just not true,'' Mr Naumann said. ''We don't gain anything personally from the meetings.

''There are about 20 honorary consuls, and about half of those are Thais, representing European countries.

''We all want to see Phuket improve. The changes that we would like to see would make Phuket a better place - not just for expats, but for all residents, Thai and foreign.

''Phuket is a beautiful island, a holiday paradise. But in many ways right now, it is close to destruction. The honorary consuls are trying to save Phuket from destruction.

''Our aim is to improve Phuket for tourists and for residents at the same time. I think it's important for people to understand that our aim is to make Phuket a better place.

''Anyone who says we are selfish or self-interested probably has some reason of their own for saying that.''

Mr Nauman's special concerns, along with the other honorary consuls, are the fight to save Phuket's beaches and coral reefs, the battle to stop jet-ski scams and other rip-offs, and the need for an efficient and reasonably priced public transport network that covers all of Phuket.

''These problems are so great that Phuket people really need to show how they feel by becoming involved,'' he said. ''We would love to have more Phuket residents contribute to our meetings, or to speak out and become active to help save the island for future generations.''

It was time for Phuket people to ask themselves questions, he added.

..Why does waste water pollute Phuket's most beautiful beaches?

..Why are there jet-ski rip-offs involving tens of thousands of baht almost every day?

..Why do tuk-tuks charge fares so high that most tourists and residents cannot afford to travel in them?

''Everybody says we cannot change Phuket,'' Mr Naumann said. ''Why not?

''In other destinations, people have spoken out and brought change. It's time for Phuket residents who think and care about the island's future to speak out.''

Mr Naumann said he feared that in the near future, Phuket will be ''wiped off the tourist map'' by Vietnam and Burma unless steps are taken to end the pollution, the scams and the destruction of beaches and reefs.

''Many European tourists who once visited Phuket are turning to other destinations,'' he said. ''The tourists replacing them are from countries with no real regard for preserving the beauty of Phuket,'' Mr Naumann said.

''No-one cares. ''No local residents say: 'It's time to stop this.' No Phuket communities get out there to clean their beaches. Nothing happens.''

Mr Naumann said that while some positive steps had been taken in regard to improving tourists' safety and security, the results from the five honorary consuls' meetings held so far had been disappointing.

''There is no sign that the administrators wanted to save Phuket for future generations,'' Mr Naumann said. ''This is alarming to anyone who cares about the future of Phuket.

''All the Thai residents of Phuket should be as alarmed as we are.

''It's time for real Phuket people to become more active and save their beautiful island. Do it please, do it now, before it's too late.''

Countries invited to send representatives to the meeting with Phuket Governors have in the past included: Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Australia, Ireland, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Netherlands, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Japan.

A translated version of this article is being offered to Thai outlets for publication.
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Comments

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''Too many people on Phuket only seem to care about money,'' Mr Naumann said

think you will find that is a major problem all over Thailand !

Posted by bob on May 17, 2011 17:34

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I want to thank all consuls who are warning for a "touristless" (NO tourists) Phuket because of a greedy few (jet-ski scammers, tuk tuk drivers etc.). I also do hope that the governor keeps talking and listening to these warnings. As an expat I have started losing contact with my European friends. The don't visit me any more because of all these scams and over pricing.
I hope that the decent Thais wake up, too.
Because these scammers destroy tourism here also destroy their RICEbowl.

Posted by PhuketExpat on May 17, 2011 17:36

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Mr. Naumann is 100% right. I always read that this is not possible and that is not possible. All is possible if really everybody is believing in changes to the better way. Yesterday for example I drove the bypass from Chaofa Road West to Kathu and beside this beautiful street through nature there are left and right of the road tons of waste and the people are not shy to bring there the waste even by daytime. Yesterday I passed this road on 4.30 p.m. and two pickups brought new waste there. Next time I will bring my camera with me and will shoot pictures of the pickups and will blame them by the police station.
If everyone thinks about little things, in the end we will have an big effort. And in this I believe very strongly.

Posted by happychris on May 17, 2011 17:45

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As expats living in Phuket, we can do nothing even when we speak out to Thai people who do not understand the facts and most reply: Why you don't go back home if you don't like Phuket?

Even foreigners use that sentence in phuketwan sometime.

All local administrations do not want to have any change as they say that more and more people are coming!!!!

Hopeless situation as all meetings with government officials are sweet talking only to keep all parties quiet and save time.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on May 17, 2011 18:49

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"If it is dollar-able, it is gone" - John Muir

Posted by Treelover on May 17, 2011 18:51

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GREED! will be the downfall of Thailand. Thais have forsaken Buddhism for Bahtism.
Money is the new god and any means of acquiring it from selling drugs, stolen goods, false documents, people, family members or one's soul is fair game.

Posted by Thaiphoon on May 17, 2011 19:56

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Mr Naumann is perfectly correct. More and more tourists are opting for other destinations regardless of the propaganda the TAT churn out.

I know, after speaking to a few of my Thai friends, that most decent, law abiding and honest locals are sick of all that goes on, but it all comes down to centuries of Elite Rule.

These dark influences (that don't exist, according to the Gov) as very adept at keeping control through the lack of education, intimidation and fear.

The truth is people are scared and this is what corruption is all about - making sure the average person on the street is too frightened to step up. How many times have we read of a contract killing for a few thousand baht - life is cheap!

Corruption is not unique to Thailand, however because of its widespread acceptance it is very difficult to combat. How on earth can anyone here expect law enforcement when those responsible for it are openly corrupt.

Let's just take the Police...

1. A Thai friend of mine in BKK had a problem - went to the Police. Wouldn't do anything unless 2000 Baht was handed under the table.

2. Sitting in a bar not two nights ago and the local police were out collecting from the bars for what amounts to protection money and looking the other way if the bar stays open later than the law permits.

Law enforcement here is a farce.

So where do you start in the battle against corruption? Well BKK reported an undercover unit here in Phuket to investigate corrupt police and authority figures...what happened with that? Where's the transparency? This issue, like so many just seems to have conveniently disappeared.

Mr Naumann is perfectly correct, this place is dying and unless locals make a stand and make the necessary changes there won't be anything left worth having on Phuket. But who is going to make that stand?

It is up to the Thais and if they are happy enough to let this situation not only continue but to escalate then Phuket's demise will lay squarely with them.

What is really disheartening is that the local Thais are the ones that will really suffer in the end and most of these are good, hard working and honest folk. Those, who are controlling the corruption, on the other hand, will not really care because their futures and that of their children will already be secured through their greed. But who really cares... certainly not the Thai Elite as they've managed to keep the poor very poor and themselves even richer.

"Here lies Phuket, so much potential, but the greed of a few saw to its demise - RIP"

Posted by Graham on May 17, 2011 20:08

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I just was witness to another group of tourists likely never to return. A group of 11 travelling from a hi-end hotel near the checkpoint to the Laguna complex for dinner and return.

$180US or 5400 baht.

Yeah, that seems about right, where can I apply?

Posted by Joanuhtawn on May 17, 2011 21:13

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Graham,
I think you are 100 percent right on what you say. I couldn't say it any better.
Phuket is at a crossroads. If something is not done soon the future is not good. Corruption is killing Phuket. I have many friends who are now heading to other parts of Thailand and SE Asia.

Sadly the central government is only one that can do anything about Phuket but they also have many corruption problems themselves. A small but powerful minority is hurting the majority of the good people of Thailand.

Sadly many locals never hear some of the problems because its not reported in the local Thai newspapers.

Posted by Billy on May 17, 2011 22:58

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You are all quite correct, however the one thing that is clear, we as foreigners are not going to change things. So the solution - let the locals get on with it - let the TukTuk drivers and jetski guys kill the tourist market - drive the tourists away - then the TukTuks and Jetski operators will all go bust and will move away to find new employment elsewhere. The property market will collapse and developers will stop building these over priced eyesores. That will allow Phuket to return to its more peaceful and quieter days where the few of us who are left can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. We will also be able to buy up the wonderful villas that have been built that will then be worth peanuts, and when tourists realise that Phuket is back to its once cheap and relaxing state, they will start to come back in 10 to 15 years time.

Posted by Matthew on May 18, 2011 09:29

Editor Comment:

Doing nothing has never been a very effective plan. Most of us don't have 30 years to spare, and neither does Phuket.

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As foreigners, we are foreigners and will forever be regarded as foreigners by the Thai people. The vast majority of Thais, probably less than 95%, have never been to a first world country to experience how communities work together to improve things.

So as foreigners, and really not part of the Thai community we will only ever be viewed as a troublemakers and ungrateful foreigners who should mind our own business and put up and shut up.

And besides, the foreigner community is so fragmented in Phuket anyway. There is virtually zero communication offering leadership by any group/organisation that I know of that is working to bring the foreign community together to discuss how best we could work together toward meaningful cohesive cooperation to change things for the better in Phuket.

And leaving it for the Thais to change things -all I can say to that is forget about it. That won't ever happen.

Posted by WIlliam Tell on May 18, 2011 14:20

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On a more positive note,

Phuket must be commended on cleaning up the garbage trash and filth that seemed to be everywhere. To me this improvement is very noticeable and a vast improvement.

Now if only there were a public awareness campaign to keep it this way.

Thai lifestyle of buying from street vendors then proceeding to attractive peaceful areas to eat and leave all the garbage, plastic bags, an bottles, half eaten food needs to be portrayed by the media as unacceptable.

Be proud of where you live......and live it!

Does Thailand have public service announcements...ie non-profit advertising to aid the community?

Posted by Anonymous on May 18, 2011 22:43


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