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Governor Maitree Intrusud explains his quest for a better Phuket

No Naked Chests or Bikinis for Songkran, Phuket Governor Asks Expats and Tourists

Saturday, April 5, 2014
PHUKET: Expats and tourists have been asked by Phuket's Governor, Maitree Intrusud to keep their shirts on during the Songkran New Year festival next weekend.

Phuket's self-styled quarterback says he has had requests from Phuket residents to ask tourist visitors not to go topless away from the beach, or to wear bikinis in supermarkets.

He not only wants farang to wear shirts when splashing each other during Songkran, he also wants them to dress properly when riding motorcycles, too.

And that includes wearing a helmet, says the man who generally bears the brunt of complaints from Thais and non-Thais when events on Phuket don't go according to plan.

This day Phuket's governor is in an expansive mood, demonstrating his skills in the English language in a wide-ranging conversation with Phuketwan about everything from waste water on Karon beach to the diving industry, to media freedom.

And for the first time, Governor Maitree explains why he has a penchant for booklets extolling social cohesion using anagrams.

Today he talks of the three Ms - maritime, medical and manpower - that he says will be at the heart of the Inter-Island Tourism Policy Forum (ITOP) when representatives from 13 world-class islands gather on Phuket in August.

Then there is SEA, which explains his plan for Phuket society: S for Sharing, E for empowerment, and A for accountability.

We've often wondered why the governor is so keen to be seen as the quarterback, or as the conductor helping everyone to play the same tune. Now we know.

Along the way to our personal enlightenment, he tells us that the problems with wastewater on Karon beach are primarily to do with figures. The numbers don't add up.

There isn't the budget as yet to improve the wastewater facility yet the number of tourists is now far greater than the present system can handle.

He also says: ''Next week I will go to inspect the process of how to learn diving'' and adds that from his perspective, there appears to have been ''an abuse of power'' in the latest wrangle over claims of police extortion.

''We try our best to instruct, to reshape ideas, to make people responsible,'' Governor Maitree says, perhaps capturing in one sentence what he's really about.

To his credit, the governor likes to explore language and concepts with others or on his own. He will, for example, go to the Phuket International Airport and hop on an airport bus as an average Joe Citizen, just to get a different perspective.

He is not yet an advocate of total transparency in the way that Phuketwan would like everything to be, but he's certainly keen to see more progress made in taking ''a global perspective.''

''I realise people are trying to explain something, but I myself like to keep the public in a positive frame of mind, with positive images,'' he says.

His main aim, behind the day-to-day administration of Phuket and settling the island's many wildfire problems, is to create social cohesion.

''We need to socialise the public to the same wavelength to make them understand the full picture,'' he tells us.

This is not easily done because, as he quickly acknowledges, Phuket contains local residents and three other large, significant groups of outsiders:

.. foreigners, in great variety, from Europeans and Australians to Russians to Chinese;

.. Burmese workers, who total at least 100,000 and possibly many more;

.. and Thais from other provinces, from the north and from Bangkok.

Attitude and education are two of his aims, with the governor in the role of the quarterback, or conductor.

''There is a big difference between a person and a citizen,'' he says. ''The citizen knows and understands responsibilities, and we are doing what we can to upgrade people on Phuket to become citizens.''

He says he has plenty of support for citizens' groups, including SEEK, that protect the environment or encourage citizens to become more concerned about the environment or other issues,

''Empowering the grassroots is what it's about,'' he says. We leave him awaiting a vanload of citizens coming to talk to the governor about the next issue in his busy day.

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I think most will approve most of his sentiments. There is no need to take nudity (semi or otherwise) away from the beach. Certainly not into restaurants. Ladies can buy wraparounds for approx 200 baht & T-shirts are cheap.

Posted by Logic on April 5, 2014 21:11

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There is nothing wrong or illegal about a man riding a motorcycle on a hot or wet day without a t-shirt.

Songkran is a buddhist festival and if a bare male chest offends anyone they should stay indoors and that includes mr Intrusud

Posted by Somsak Public Relations on April 6, 2014 09:08

Editor Comment:

You seem to be at odds with Thai culture, Somsak PR. Sadly, tourists also go shopping topless. It's impolite anywhere and shouldn't be encouraged.

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On the contrary, Somsak PR. It is technically illegal to drive a vehicle shirtless in Thailand.

Posted by Sam Wilko on April 6, 2014 11:04

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I think the Governor has a valid point. Be respectful of your surroundings. Its not appropriate to walk half naked around a Tesco or shopping center. You wouldn't do it in your own country so why would you do it here ?

Posted by Ciaran on April 6, 2014 17:24

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Seems like trowing buckets of ice water on passing motorcyclists and ripping their raincoats of them is no problem.
If people have to shop in Patong, they are forced to ride all way around.
But at least now they are spared for the terrible sight of females wearing bikini tops.
Nice that the people of power here have some sense of the real problems.

Posted by Sherlock on April 6, 2014 17:57

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Thai Culture ,what are you on about . It is the den of eniquity . That is laughable . Thai culture changes every day to suit whoever is making the statement so they can benefit in some way .
I agree that bikinis should be fround upon . But don't take some moral high road and call it culture .

Posted by Kenny on April 7, 2014 08:07

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Fair comments from the Governor... but sadly, cheap PR as is often so common of civil serveants. There are plenty of topless Thais (men) driving motorbikes around the Island at anytime of the year. There are plenty without helmets too. The attention needs to be drawn to all issues for all people and not target specific "races" when the problem is universal.

Posted by Duncan on April 7, 2014 10:05

Editor Comment:

Acceptance that Phuket is now an international-Thai island rather than a Thai-international island is slow in coming.


Saturday November 22, 2014
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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