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Phuket's Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob, one year into the job

Phuket Governor's Wild Tuk-Tuk Ride of a Year

Friday, March 12, 2010
GOVERNOR Wichai Praisa-ngob is celebrating his 60th birthday today, and Monday marks his first anniversary at the controls of Planet Phuket.

It has been quite a ride.

In an interview with Phuketwan to mark his action-packed year, Governor Wichai said he still has high hopes for sorting out some of Phuket's entrenched problems.

''Once I retire and move away, I'd like to know that when I do return as a tourist, Phuket will be free from protests and squabbling.'' he said.

''I'd like to see when I return a Phuket with public transport that takes me everywhere, from the airport or the bus station.

''I'd also like to see Phuket as a place of great beauty, kept tidy by its concerned citizens.''

That's the future. The governor still has until September to make good use of his extension beyond normal retirement.

For now, he says, Phuket people continue to impress him.

''Now people seem to understand why Phuket needs to change and they appreciate that these problems need to be sorted,'' he said.

The island's rip-offs come with the tourists, he said. ''In some cases, visitors even rip off each other. I understand some foreigners in the property business use gaps in the law to exploit others. These groups have to improve themselves.

''The people who only come here to make money have to also treat the island with respect.''

He said local authorities had to be honest in their dealings and solve the problems.

''The main thing is the tuk-tuks,'' he said. ''They are still a big problem. Police and local authorities have never done the right thing.''

The governor has said he does not believe the tuk-tuk drivers are sincere about reforming their industry from within. He is probably going to opt for compulsory meters.

On Immigration processing delays at Phuket airport, Governor Wichai said more counters to process arrivals swiftly were definitely required. More scanners were needed at the entrances to the airport, too, to avoid queuing.

''Phuket makes a lot of money for Thailand,'' he said. ''The government in Bangkok and Airports of Thailand must support Phuket more fully.

''Phuket has good weather,good food, good hotels and hospitable people,'' he said. ''It's a very safe place for a holiday.''

Governor Wichai had some words for those people who rip off tourists: ''Think about it. Why not keep a good relationship with them? Don't treat them as short-term means to making an income.

''Treat them well and they will come back again and again. Now Phuket has to be part of the wider world.''

Memorable moments from Governor Wichai's year include: crooning over the loudspeaker to blockaders at the West Sands Resort; paying the fine for the Beer Mat Bandit; planting a row of palmyra down Phuket's main thoroughfare; ordering the jet-ski operators to take on compulsory insurance; setting up a genuine environmental approvals process; agreeing to a historic summit with 15 honorary consuls.

There will probably be more. Give him a day or so.
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Comments

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I would like him to stay five more years but wish him happy birthday

Posted by Michael on March 12, 2010 10:22

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Really will miss this guy when he goes. I do hope he can get the public transport thing solved I think people underestimate what a positive affect that could have economically on the island as a whole. Wish him a happy b'day and many more.

Posted by MLK on March 12, 2010 10:50

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Great man!

Posted by Sean on March 12, 2010 12:40

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Apparently a sincere, honest and hardworking man... Is he Thai?!

Posted by BOM on March 12, 2010 14:06

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And while he is at it, he might have a word with the longtail guys. They respect Freedom Beach as being of their own, harassing everyone who tries to go or lets others go there by land.

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on March 12, 2010 17:45

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Once upon a time there was a proactive, seemingly concerned Governor named Pongpayome. Whatever became of him? Khun Wichai and now the new Patong police chief give one some confidence that Phuket has the attention of Bangkok.

Posted by donmphkt on March 12, 2010 19:11

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Happy Birthday (and a soon to be Happy Retirement in Sept) to a good man who has tried to push uphill against the many obstacles that Phuket presents to a person in his position. Even one success is an improvement.

It's a shame that there is a lack of continuity but it seems every time Governors try to become pro-active the real powers that be finagle a move to a remote Province

Posted by Mister Ree on March 12, 2010 19:56

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Happy birthday Governor Wichai!
Life long and prosper. Salute!

Posted by Lena on March 13, 2010 04:18

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Best wishes for the Governor. This is a man I really respect and I would like to see him staying longer in his current position governor. His visions seem to be for the best of Phuket and Thailand and I hope the next Governor will continue Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob's excellent work.

Posted by TD on March 13, 2010 06:15


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