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Nice work: Governor Wichai leads Phuket's delegation on a sister city trip to Nice

Phuket, Phang Nga Governors to Wave Goodbye

Wednesday, August 4, 2010
News Analysis: Nice Photo Album Above

THE Governors of Phuket and Phang Nga are to retire at the same time before October 1, opening the path to renewed control over the future of the two most important tourism provinces in Thailand.

Both Governors - Wichai Praisa-ngob of Phuket and Yiamsuriya Palusuk of Phang Nga - will farewell the local media at a combined party in Phang Nga on August 21-22.

The following day, Khun Wichai is due to meet Phuket's honorary consuls and embassy representatives in a third innovative ''summit,'' a move that marks one of the big changes of his brief but highly significant tenure.

For the first time, expat residents and tourists have a voice in what's happening on Phuket, and even the local Thai media is beginning to show signs of interest in what the outsiders have to say.

''I hope to make some more changes before I go,'' Khun Wichai told Phuketwan this week. ''I plan to keep working to improve Phuket up to the last minute.''

The two neighboring provinces may seem to be moving in different directions at times, but their future in tourism and property is as much in lockstep as that of a pair of runners in a three-legged race.

Both are struggling to put the brakes on development before the beauty of the Andaman coast is buried deep behind long concrete strips of shophouses, shopping malls and franchise outlets.

Property developers and their boosters may see it differently, but both governors will tell you privately that if they could stop all building in both provinces today, they would.

People use the word ''sustainable'' to describe the future of Phuket and Phang Nga (and Krabi too, where the present governor is reluctant to express any views to the media).

''Sustainable'' is a weasel word because what is ''sustainable'' to a property developer is vastly different to what is ''sustainable'' to an environmentalist. So Phuketwan chooses the old-fashioned word, ''balance,'' instead.

What is required for the future of both provinces to retain an appeal to future generations this century and into the 22nd century is a real balance, an ongoing balance between nature and development.

Both the retiring governors have been good for balance. In Phang Nga, the brakes are on. The government realises that for the future of Thailand's children and grandchildren, the beauty of the region needs to be preserved.

Strategic planning is required. All future development must be controlled. At the same time, the beaches and the coral reefs and the mountains must be preserved and protected.

Phuket? Well, Phuket will inevitably lurch towards over-development because the brakes have not been applied early enough, because corruption and greed remain rampant, and because there have been decades of neglect by local authorities.

The understanding that constant progress and prosperity comes at a price is far broader now. Even the greedy and the corrupt are starting to pause and wonder.

The two governors who are saying goodbye to Phuket and Phang Nga soon have helped to improve understanding of the issues.

As a former governor of Phang Nga, Phuket's Khun Wichai came to the job last year with a finely-tuned understanding of the needs of the holiday coast. To his credit, his view of the future is based on environmental realism.

While Governor Wichai would agree that Phuket already has too many built-up areas, he also understands that new roads and infrastructure are essential for the island's projected growth.

Among his achievements in a short time: taming Patong's jet-ski rip-offs, establishing a special environmental committee to halt the rape of Phuket's natural assets, accentuating the real budgetary needs of Phuket, and giving a regular forum to expats and tourists.

He also has a public transport system for the island firmly in his sights. We expect to hear a bit more from Governor Wichai on this and other matters before September 30 ticks over into October 1.

The key for the national government will be to appoint two new and energetic governors to Phuket and Phang Nga who understand the issues confronting the whole Andaman coast and are dedicated to achieving a proper balance between nature and development.

The past few years have been important to the Andaman's future: the next few years will decide it.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Within the constraints of the system the current Gov has done his best to be proactive and sort out some of the issues concerning Phuket. Sometimes people have failed to see the minor successes he has had hidden within bolder plans. Evolution, not revolution is the way ahead and hopefully his successor will have a similar mindset.

Best of luck to Gov Wichai in his retirement.

Posted by Mister Ree on August 4, 2010 12:06


Best wishes for a enjoyable retirement to the Governor and a big Thank-You for his achievements for Phuket.

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on August 4, 2010 12:30


Best wishes for retirement, Governor.

But claiming to tame the jet-ski rip offs, was just legalised extortion, for a person to use a jet-ski and it fails due to no part of the renter, the renter has to pay for the time it cannot be used? This is insurance?

Tuk-tuks "negotiated" their fares with the local government. Where in the world does this happen? Many times higher than Bangkok. And I would call that a world class destination, not Phuket.

Tuk-tuks and black taxis close the port when Navy ships are in for 3 hours, no arrests, not anything done by the police or the government.

The roads that are in place now are in shambles. Now we need more roads?

Now there is a push to stop building above the 80 meter limit, but wasn't that currently the law? But no one ever thought twice about it...

New bus station that is not used, no government office wants to take responsibility. No action by the local government.

New market in Phuket Town, they didn't build the vendor stalls and want to charge vendors... isn't that what a market is for, for vendors to sell goods? No action by the government.

Best stated as "because corruption and greed remain rampant, and because there have been decades of neglect by local authorities" in the article, and nothing will change.

Posted by Lee on August 4, 2010 14:19

Editor Comment:

Lee, you say ''nothing will change.'' Oh really? You state it with such confidence, as if you've been out and about, taking the pulse of Phuket in the same way that Phuketwan has been. Funny, but we don't recollect seeing you anywhere lately. Could it be that you prefer to highlight the same old negatives? Let's try for a touch of new-century Confucius here: ''He who sees the glass as half-empty will never enjoy a sip.''
Not all the issues you list are inter-related and you are exaggerating some: the condition of the roads, for example, has improved on what it was five years ago. And tuk-tuk drivers set their own fares.


I think Lee brings up many valid points. The reality is there is problems in Phuket and nothing much as changed. Even the central govenment in Bangkok says corruption is a big problem in Phuket. Most problems here are due to corruption. This is fact. Its not if the glass is half full or empty. I hope positive things will happen for Phuket but hoping isn't reality. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

I wish the next governor good luck and success in his job.

Posted by James on August 4, 2010 15:27

Editor Comment:

James, it's so easy to list the problems of Phuket, and so much more difficult to achieve improvements. Why not analyse the causes and attempt to improve the situation? Most expats on the island write their lists, then do nothing. Have you sent a letter to the governor, your honorary consul or your ambassador lately? Phuket's problems are not helped by expats who sit back to ''hope for the best and prepare for the worst.'' You are so right when you say ''hoping isn't reality.'' Why don't you get real? Posting your list to the governor or your embassy would be a positive step.


Haha editor you make me laugh....list the problems then analyise the causes? The causes to all of the problems are corrupt officials or officials who are scared to tackle problems directly, for fear of criminal repecussion! There is nothing else to it. If it wasn't this, why wouldn't they just arrest tuk tuk drivers who blockade roads, property developers and hoteliers who build too high. Why don't they already have a decent public transport system and why can't they just make taxi Fares the same as everywhere else in Th? Sorry for my glass half empty view of this but I just cannot forsee any real change. Nice try anyway Govenor, at least your heart was in the right place. Best of luck

Posted by Chalongian on August 4, 2010 17:00

Editor Comment:

Delighted to have stimulated a physical reaction of one kind or another within you.

Fine, that's your list.
1. corruption. 2. corruption 3. corruption.
The easy part is all over.

Now please tell us what you've ever done about it. Or are you leaving that to others?


The Gov can retire having done his best and yet nothing have changed and anarchy still rules in Phuket.

Posted by Local on August 4, 2010 20:26

Editor Comment:

Anarchy has never ruled in Phuket. Why trot out these tired old cliches? Much has changed. Too many expats never get out to see the changes. Indolence and lethargy still rule among the expats.


The Editor now so much !
Let the last man switch of the light and lock the gate !
Phuket is on the way to destroy itself !
After 14 years i moved out, i should had done that many years ago !
Farangs there think they can do a lot talk and talk, but that is all they do as they CAN`t do anything, it is all controlled by super corrupt people !
I had been invited at City counsel meetings in Phuket town, they talked and talked and never did anything, i had met governors, marinde cheifs etc. they all do nothing as the Thai system is made so they are locked on arms and legs, so it is only the corrupt people who do anything !
Same corrupt people who issue work permits to farangs working at newspapers, even it is not legal !!

Posted by Peter on August 4, 2010 21:03

Editor Comment:

Peter, you just proved your knowledge is incomplete. The media is one area where expats can work legally in Thailand. Perhaps your experience predates the Internet and maybe even the 21st century? There's a recognition these days that the views of tourists are relevant, for obvious reasons. What was probably true long ago, and what's probably still true, is that if you don't persevere, nothing changes.


Editor, yeah you're right, I've done nothing constructive about it, apart from boycotting tuk tuks and using taxis as little as possible, I would be happy to write a letter to the powers that be viewing my concerns, but how about you post a list of the people you think we should be appealing too, along with their address' and contact info to get the ball rolling. I'm sure many people would follow suit. Apart from that what else can I do?

Posted by Chalongian on August 5, 2010 17:19

Editor Comment:

Best to write to the Governor at PO box 101, Phuket, 83000, and copy the letter to your honorary consul. At least then the information is in the hands of people who have the capacity to pursue the issues.
I am not sure that there's much more we can do, apart from becoming Thai citizens and casting a vote for someone who might also want Thailand to change for the better.

Thursday July 29, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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