PHUKET: Phuket is ready to change. But what has to disappear before Phuket can become the better place it should be is this notion of change coming in small steps.
One of Governor Maitree Intrusud's Phuket predecessors suggested phasing out jet-skis over seven years. Nobody needs reminding how lame that slow and steady approach proved to be.
The ''step by step'' strategy inevitably leads Phuket sideways or backwards. And for Phuket now, the clock is ticking. Time is running out.
From the series of top-level talks on Phuket over the past month must spring what the Chinese Ambassador suggested: regular meetings and action committees to push the changes through.
Restoring the gatherings of honorary consuls will achieve nothing. The impact of those meetings was always blunted by misreported minutes and poor media coverage.
Shamefully, there are still people in high positions on Phuket who remain determined to keep Phuket relatively unchanged, people in denial, people who need to be forced to confront reality.
They see the world in terms of us and them and fail to acknowledge that the tourists and expats who visit and live on Phuket are entitled to express their opinions and to receive equally fair treatment.
In the simplest of terms, the corrupt and complacent island attitudes must be replaced by transparency and action. Otherwise, Phuket's future will grow even murkier.
What has to happen is for Phuket's governor and other authorities to actively seek out and involve international expertise in finding solutions for Phuket's problems.
Taking our lead from the recent inspiring words of Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada, Phuketwan's new motto is ''Brave Enough to Change.''
We suggest Governor Maitree takes the same approach to heart as he structures the action committees that Phuket needs to solve its problems.
Expertise and advice from China, Europe, Australia and other countries is available and will be forthcoming.
But first, the governor has to understand that Phuket is now an international place that must adopt international standards, while at the same time remaining uniquely Thai.
Forming action committees of international and Thai representatives to pursue answers to Phuket's problems is what must happen.
Phuketwan rates corruption as Phuket's biggest problem, even above taxis and tuk-tuks.
But we are content for now to accept the 13 issues put forward by Minister for Tourism and Sport, Somsak Pureesrisak, as Phuket's problems.
And we suggest that when he and ambassadors from many countries meet in Bangkok on June 28, a strategy is discussed that will set up multinational teams to seek solutions for each of them.
The governor should be there, too. Here are the minister's 13 issues. Each needs a multinational action plan:
1. Increasing airport arrivals, poor infrastructure
3. No controlling strategy, development occurring all over
4. Environmental degradation
5. Attacks on beaches and public land
6. Garbage mounting
7. Bad water
8. Tourists' and residents' safety and security
9. Rip-offs (timeshare touts etc.)
10. Tour guides
11. Authorities at odds with private sector
12. Taxis and jet-skis
13. Zero baht tours
With a little help from its friends, Phuket can look forward to a great future. The time to begin work on that future is now.