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Thailand needs a Phuket free of corruption for a bolder, brighter future

Phuket Corruption Must Be Banished

Sunday, September 16, 2012
News Analysis/Opinion

PHUKET: Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha meets Phuket's honorary consuls on Monday then retires at month's end - just as the national government discusses giving a future governor of Phuket much greater independence.

Talks are expected to take place on the issue, a vital one for Phuket's future, as soon as Tuesday. Phuketwan not only endorses the concept but urges that the idea be taken one step further.

Give Phuket a degree of independence, and at the same time start the process of making the island-province free of corruption.

The timing for a momentous change has never been better. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra talked this weekend in Krabi of the need for a strategy to keep Phuket and the Andaman provinces green and appealing.

It's true that a green approach is desirable and in the case of Phuket, it must be done with speed.

But a sustainable future for Phuket and for Phuket tourism cannot be achieved by tinkering. It can only be achieved by first ending corruption.

It's corruption that packs Phuket's once-beautiful public beaches with more and more commercial operations. It's corruption that lines the pockets of officials whose only concern is their bank balance.

And it's corruption that must be addressed as the key issue if the national government really wants to preserve a ''sustainable'' Phuket for future generations.

Just last week, one resort owner told us that a small extension of a driveway was going to cost 150,000 baht. But he needed a permit for the work. And the local council wanted 80,000 baht for the permit.

Everyone knows of officials in all kinds of decision-making jobs who have their hands out. But there's another aspect to Phuket, the honest people who can tell right from wrong.

We know of another resort owner who planned nine new villas on a hillside, but cancelled three of them as soon as a survey showed those buildings would be above Phuket's 80-metre height limit.

Sadly, not all Thai and expat owners are that honest. Others have paid to build above 80 metres, or to encroach on public parklands.

It's the honest Phuket people who suffer every time that less scrupulous operators do deals to fatten their own wallets, and the wallets of corrupt people who abuse their powers.

Enough is enough. A fresh start must be made soon, not just for the sake of Phuket but for the sake of Thailand.

The Asean economic community's arrival in 2015 will require new standards to be achieved. Now is the time to make sure that Phuket and Thailand meet those standards when it comes to honesty in business.

A new governor with greater independence must be supported by an administration team at every level that is above reproach.

The appointment of a governor with greater powers and independence is Phuket's best chance - and Thailand's best chance - for a fresh start.

Singapore got it right by wiping out corruption within a generation. Now it's time for the island of Phuket to heed the lessons of Lee Kwan Yew's island.

Thailand's national government should create a new Phuket administration for the new, independent governor. Thailand's national government should destroy the corruption of the old system by bringing in a clean-skin new team.

Break every connection with the old system and the old ways, just as Singapore did. Give Phuket a fresh start, a green start, in every way.

Save the beaches and the reefs. Clear away the corruption. Create an honest Phuket that can become the role model and set new standards for all of Thailand.

Instead of competition with Phang Nga and Krabi, create a strategy for co-operation. Make Phuket as green as it can possibly be.

For now, the extra evil handout is there in virtually every aspect of life on Phuket. It's cash for corruption that would be better spent on health, education, and sustainability.

It's time for honest people to speak out. End corruption on Phuket. Make the island a model for a better Thailand. This is your chance.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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these are peanuts... in these days one Phuket municipality to give a permission to start the next phase of a big project on the hill is going to receive 2.5 million baht under the table.

Posted by ric on September 16, 2012 19:31

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What a silly article. It should be in the fairytale section.

Posted by geoff on September 16, 2012 21:14

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Totally agree that corruption is our no. 1 problem - as almost all other problems seem to stem from it. But I don't understand how making Pk. independent would help ? Surely it would make it worse ? Hasn't everybody been asking/waiting for Bkk. to step in to help as Pk. authorities (even the ones who know right from wrong) are powerless to end it ? That was my understanding. How do you end corruption by keeping things local (and therefore much more at risk of intimidation) ? Unless you mean bring in outsiders to run Pk. independtly, which wouldn't seem fair or realistic (I realise the gov. is usually not from Pk.). Would a more independent Pk. be more cooperative with Phang-nga & Krabi ? I wouldn't expect so. I don't mean to criticise the article, I agree with the sentiment, I just don't understand the logic.

Posted by James on September 17, 2012 13:44

Editor Comment:

Now's the time for the Thai government, interested as it is in sustaining tourism, to make Phuket a role model for the rest of the country by obliterating corruption. Elected or appointed, the governor needs a cleanskin administration across the island.

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Corruption cases could be reported to the government through two channels: direct phone line 1206 and the website www.stopcorruption.go.th.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on September 27, 2012 08:07

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@Whistle-Blower. I presume that your offer to rent out kayaks to unfortunate victims at a 20% surcharge, made in a previous comment, can be referred to the numbers you list!

Posted by Pete on September 27, 2012 09:56


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