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Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya at the Democrat congress

Phuket Corruption Needs Fixing, Says Thai FM

Saturday, July 31, 2010
CORRUPTION is Phuket's greatest problem, the Foreign Minister, Kasit Piromya, acknowledged in a free and frank exchange with a group of honorary consuls over breakfast on Phuket today.

Khun Kasit ''spoke very openly'' and demonstrated a surprisingly complete and detailed knowledge of Phuket, Phuketwan was told later.

''We have to change Thailand,'' Khun Kasit said.

After the meeting, he openly used the word ''mafia'' in talking about the high fares being charged by Phuket's tuk-tuks, and the limitations of free trade imposed by the vehicles not being able to pick up fares around the island.

He said service was bad and tourists did not feel safe on Phuket using tuk-tuks at night.

Immigration service at the airport was also not good enough, he said. He had been told that Malaysian tourists might arrive on Phuket after a one-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, then face a wait of two or three hours to be processed at the airport.

Some countries were suggesting a fast-track for Asean country tourists - but plainly, it would be better for Phuket to fix the problem for all visitors.

He also told a Phuketwan reporter that the honorary consuls had raised the high number of buildings now going up above the 80-metre limit, and indicated that something should be done.

Billboards were another large and obvious Phuket issue. ''Phuket is one of the most attractive natural destinations in the world,'' he said. ''It shouldn't be spoiled by billboards.''

Incentives also need to be provided to encourage investment in property on Phuket, he said. The extension of 30-year leases to 90 years would be a sensible boost to business, he said.

Long-stay visas also needed to be sorted, Khun Kasit added. It did not seem to make sense that people on a one-year visa to Thailand had to report to Immigration every three months.

Earlier, Khun Kasit told the honorary consuls that too much power on Phuket was invested in the local authorities. Garbage disposal and environmental protection were two areas that clearly needed improvement.

Seen by many expats in Thailand as forming an internationally aware triumvirate with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij, Khun Kasit sat down to eat this morning with about a dozen people representing Phuket's expat communities.

He spoke for five minutes, then asked to hear directly from each person at the table. The issues quickly came tumbling out.

One honorary consul said the foreign minister's knowledge of Phuket and the issues that need to be resolved was ''very impressive.'' Another said that his reaction was ''extremely positive.''

Khun Kasit took extensive notes. ''Now we will wait and see what happens,'' said one honorary consul.

Khun Kasit said the Government understood that Phuket's budget was based on 320,000 registered citizens, but that up to a million people were using the island's infrastructure in high-season months.

Phuket's honorary consuls are due to meet for the third time with Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob and the island's leading police and officials in August. The innovative quarterly meeting is likely to be expanded to include representatives from the US, China, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
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Comments

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Great report, let's hopes this helps Phuket.

Posted by Lee on July 31, 2010 11:19

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Refreshing! I hadn't thought of Kasit as being one with Abhisit and Korn (who is very impressive) and it's good to hear that view.

Posted by donmphkt on July 31, 2010 11:47

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This sounds almost too good to be true. I sincerely hope things will be moving soon. Thumbs up!

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on July 31, 2010 16:40

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This would be outstanding for Phuket if some results come out this. This could be at least a very positive start. Hope it comes true!!!

Posted by Billy on July 31, 2010 19:15

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ABOUT TIME..Someone from the government has finally acknowledged the truth about the Phuket MAFIA.....let's all hope we can now get some action.

Posted by J D on August 1, 2010 08:34

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It's all been said before and the tuk-tuk issue is a decade old and airport immigration was supposed to have been fixed a couple of years ago. You can hope and you can dream but, as usual, nothing will happen. What is new and interesting is the 90 day reporting for long stay visitors which Kasit says 'does not make sense'. As the Foreign Minister he should know what is sensible and what is not in his country. Talk is one thing, action is another. 'Now we will wait and see what happens' said the hon. consul - Quite.

Posted by Pete on August 1, 2010 08:55

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How to fix corruption?? Simple, start handing out jail sentences as you do with all other criminals. We'd need to double the capacity of the jail first to fit 'em all in!

Posted by Antz Pantz on August 2, 2010 06:37


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