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Veg vendor protesters greet Phuket's new governor today

Phuket Veg Fest Vendor Rebellion Puts Governor On the Spot

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
UPDATE

TWO of the vegetarian vendors have opted to continue their dispute. The others have accepted the move.

Original Report

PHUKET: The new Governor of Phuket, Maitree Inthusud, encountered about 50 protesters today who claimed they were vegetarian victims of discrimination by the committee at Jui Tui Temple.

The vegetarian food sellers said they had been expelled and replaced in Ranong Road, near the temple, by other vendors who were paying more rent to the Jui Tui committee.

They also say that greed is spoiling the unique nine-day Phuket religious and cultural festival, which begins on Sunday.

Vegetarian food prices on Phuket were ''out of control,'' an official said in a related development.

The Phuket vendor protest was the governor's first direct experience of a genuine Phuket issue on what amounted to his second full day in the job.

A meeting was continuing at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City this afternoon to try to resolve the issue.

Pattama Chaipiya, spokesperson for the vendors, told the governor: ''We really should have a representative on the temple committee.''

Other protesters held up banners saying: ''Give Us Our Jobs. Who Does This Road Belong To?'' and ''Did you do the right thing? Where is the judge?''

The governor told the protesters to come back later after this afternoon's meeting, aimed at solving the problem. Five vendors were permitted to attend the meeting.

The Jui Tui committee said that they needed to remove the vendors because the owners of the property wanted access and the right to sell on their own properties.

The committee said the displaced vendors had been offered new positions in Soi Phuton, which runs alongside the temple but is not nearly as popular with vegetarians as Ranong Road.

The vendors wonder why the temple is suggesting they pay rent to the property owners when Ranong Road is a public thoroughfare.

The cost for a supply of electricity to the street vendors rises each year, they say. This year it's 1200 baht per stall for the nine-day festival.

In 2004 it was 100 baht, and last year it was 900 baht, the vendors said.

The Director of the Office of Commercial Affairs, Praklong Luckwong, said today that monitoring prices for the month leading up to the festival revealed that vegetable prices were ''out of control.''

''We had asked for restraint by sellers but that hasn't happened,'' he said. ''It's disappointing. Phuket already has the most expensive food in Thailand.''

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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"Who Does This Road Belong To?"

The fact is the roads are belong to vehicles who pay tax. Another fact is that people need access to their private property through roads. I know of one family who cannot access their property during this time!

The problem (again) is the failure of our authorities to develop this well known festival (benefiting even tourism) with proper systems, transparent practices, support and more...

Posted by Mr. K on October 10, 2012 16:12

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I guess overpricing is acceptable to Thais only when it targets foreigners.

Posted by Andrew on October 10, 2012 16:39

Editor Comment:

Disgraceful comment, Andrew. The comment of a bigot.

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Wow! Thais ripping off Thais. Who'd've thunk it.

Posted by Buster on October 10, 2012 16:44

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Interesting to see Thais airing similar grievances (albeit on a different topic) as we 'farangs'. Greed & corruption at the base of most problems. Amazing Phuket!

Posted by Logic on October 10, 2012 17:52

Editor Comment:

Interesting to think, as you and others do, that there is somehow a connection between greed and the color of any person's skin, or their nationality. No logic there, Logic. Please exclude me from your 'we.'

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Vegetarian food prices on Phuket were ''out of control,'' "..by other vendors who were paying more rent to the Jui Tui committee". "In 2004 it was 100 baht, and last year it was 900 baht, now 1.200vendors said". And so? This is business or not? Thais must leanr what means to be greedy: they are victims of themselves.

Posted by dave on October 10, 2012 19:23

Editor Comment:

You're a bigot, Dave. Goodbye.

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Dear Ed, it's obvious that I'm not native speakers of English, but "bigot" comes from France and so you wrong cause I was not speaking about religion.. Maybe better fanatic, or intolerant: yes I'm!! Also can you explain to me why Goodbye.. I'm not welcome anymore on this forum? Cause a "see you" would be much more welcome..

Posted by dave on October 10, 2012 21:00

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"Definition of BIGOT
: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance". Amazing the meaning so different from my language... Bigot is right!! yes I'm!!

Posted by dave on October 10, 2012 21:04

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According to you, Ed, there are already 3 bigots commenting on this subject.

Instead of name calling, why don't you argue your case with supporting facts ?

Never seen Thais protest against overcharging foreigners but seen, heard and felt cases of the exact opposite many times.

That being Thais defending their right to overcharge foreigners. No 1 argument being "All foreigners are rich !"

In my almost 9y here I've yet to see a Thai to come to my defense when they notice I'm being overcharged. Not even those I considered my friends.

Surely you remember what happened to the brave young Thai lady you reported about who tried to do just that against the Taxi mob in Phuket town.

You've also reported cases where rather prominent Phuket officials make such statements in public and facing international media.

If you can read Thai, you can see many places having signs saying "Khon Thai lot 50%" or prices for Thais written in Thai numbers so foreigners would not be able to notice it.

I don't know what you call it but to me it's pure discrimination. To see Thais protest against such activity when it is directed at them only reeks of hypocrisy to me.

If recognizing, disliking and speaking up and against it makes me a bigot in your eyes, then so be it.

Posted by Andrew on October 10, 2012 22:35

Editor Comment:

''Recognizing, disliking and speaking up and against'' discrimination is different to blaming a whole nation for your own negative experiences. Not all Thais are so inclined. To say that they are is a lie. It's as foolish and wrong as saying, for example, ''all Andrews are dumb.'' You know it's not true, but you say it anyway. That's bigotry. And by making bigoted comments, you perpetuate discrimination.

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At the risk of being called a "bigot" by the editor, I agree that there is definitely an acceptance to overcharging foreigners.
Not sure how that makes anyone a "bigot" but it seems to be the editors' "word of the day". I actually held this website in high esteem prior to this reading. I might take all the info on here with a grain of salt from now on.

Posted by Anonymous on October 11, 2012 01:55

Editor Comment:

Feel free to make your own life choices, bold anonymous person. There is certainly overcharging, but high prices are foisted on foreigners and locals as well. To suggest that all Thais support inflated prices and rip-offs is where the bigotry begins. You can take that piece of information with any condiment you choose.

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ED, by it's very definition you are probably the only bigot, it is a pity that an award winning reporter as yourself, should now be such a sorry soul, and be such a disgrace to journalism.

Posted by dbate_me on October 11, 2012 07:55

Editor Comment:

Coming from you i can only take that as a great compliment, dbate_me. As usual, you resort to abuse rather than actually debating the issue.

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I never said all Thais are so inclined (to overcharge foreigners).

I was clearly talking about Thais not SPEAKING UP against overcharging foreigners, like they were protesting against being overcharged themselves.

They can all see, hear and read the double pricing but why are they not speaking up against this practise ?

Some dislike it, a precious few brave individuals risk bodily harm and scorn by fellow Thais by speaking up against it but the vast majority either silently accept it or openly support and defend it.

My experiences are shared by a large number of other foreigners visiting Thailand, some of which even you have chosen to report here.

How you turn that into me "blaming a whole nation for YOUR own negative experiences" is beyond me, let alone how that makes me and everyone else here sharing the same point of view a bigot.

Overcharging foreigners in Thailand is a fact and it enjoys the support of the majority of Thais. If it didn't, it simply would not be happening to the extent it does today.

I sure wish I was wrong but unfortunately no matter what you say can prove me wrong. Only Thais can do that.

The day they protest against it like they did as reported here I will stand corrected.

Posted by Andrew on October 11, 2012 09:27

Editor Comment:

''Overcharging foreigners in Thailand is a fact and it enjoys the support of the majority of Thais.''

There is no evidence to support this ridiculous and bigoted statement. I suggest you move from wherever you live to another part of Thailand. You clearly have a problem.

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Pointless for us to continue this debate but since you have Thai staff, it would be interesting to read their thoughts on this subject if you can ask/allow them to respond.

I'm curious to see if they will publicly speak up against overpricing foreigners on a forum which they know is frequently read by the influential Thais on Phuket.

Posted by Andrew on October 11, 2012 13:00

Editor Comment:

My staff have better things to do than respond to your whims, Andrew.Your diversion is and always has been off-topic.

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Well, overcharging farangs is in fact official policy, as anyone who visits a national park can see for themselves. Koh Samet is a typical example, with one fee for farangs and one for thais. I'm not saying whether it's right or wrong, I'm just stating a fact.

Posted by Remarkable on October 11, 2012 13:54

Editor Comment:

The national parks policy has nothing to do with ''farang.'' The categories are Thais and non-Thais.

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Regarding the debate between the Editor and Andrew. This is an easy issue to resolve by the Editor - Run an article in English and in Thai asking the Thias to simply vote if they find overcharging foreigner acceptable and why.

The problems are wide and varied with double standards and overcharging, it happens to most foreigners here and I have to agree with Andrew that it would be nice to see Thais support the case for stopping the practice.

Bigotry? I certainly don't think Andrew or the others are being bigots by stating a well known fact. Sure, it's obvious that not every Thai overcharges foreigners but with such a widespread acceptance this could be stopped if sufficient Thais where to speak up and help their foreign guests.

Posted by Graham on October 11, 2012 14:06

Editor Comment:

Totally off-topic and barely worth a response, Graham. The bigotry in all the responses I questioned was so obvious that dave even had the guts to admit that yes, he's a bigot.

On your topic, a fair system would be for everyone to pay an entrance fee in proportion to their overall wealth. As that's not possible, a two-tier system mostly overcomes the divide between rich and poor. Given the disparity between life options, for Westerners to cry ''discrimination'' is laughable. Give away most of what you have, abandon your ability to travel to other countries, then maybe you have a case. Until then . . .

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Well, would you please enlighten me as to the difference between farang and non-thai!
As for the notion we should all go poor before we can ask for the same prices as a thai, I don't think that would be appreciated by the booming tourism industry in this country. I don't mind paying a bit more, but when it becomes ridiculous like the tuk-tuk fares I take my business elsewhere in Thailand.

Posted by Remarkable on October 11, 2012 15:14

Editor Comment:

''Farang'' is the term used to describe Europeans, along with Americans and Australians. It's based on the way a person looks. Non-Thai covers people from all those countries, and from all other Asian and Middle East nations.

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Ed
The posts have gone off topic quite dramatically but in response your idea that the ultimate "fairness" would be to charge people according to their income: That is not fairness in my view, fairness would be if everybody paid exactly the same amount. if you ask schoolchildren to share a cake fairly, would you really teach them to check how well off their parents are and then give the kid from a poorer family a larger part of the cake? To share something in a fair manner is to share it equally. Thea same can be applied to taxes and all kind of charges. A fair tax system for example would charge everybody a certain sum of money. Not even a flat tax rate system, where everybody pays a certain percentage of their income, could correctly be called a fairness based system. I'm actually FOR progressive taxes, don't get me wrong, but I have come to that view because I value social harmony and wealth redistribution. It's simply necessary in my view to achieve a developed society. it's a lesser of evils, but the word "fair" should not be used to describe anything that charges people differently according to their ethnicity, social or monetary status. It's worthy, but it's not fair.

Posted by christian on October 11, 2012 16:02

Editor Comment:

If those parents can afford to buy those children a cake, they're doing ok, Christian. If they are going to the same school, there's a fair chance they come from the same neighborhood. If it's a metaphorical cake - the wealth of the world - then yes, everybody should start with an equal slice. Perhaps it's time you shared your cake more ''fairly.''

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I have paid three different prices for the same brand Scotch in as many places. I have paid the same three different prices for the very same food in as many places. And I don't mind or care. The only time I have a problem is when my wonderful wife gets involved and lets me KNOW I have paid "too much" or something isn't right. In my opinion, Thai people, venders, can charge what ever they want. The bottom line is they are ALL just trying to make a living. No different than anywhere else. Can't everyone just be happy that we are not paying full price for ANYTHING as we would in our home countries...? From electricity, food, rent, parking the list goes on...Give it a break people...PLAY NICE.

Posted by Ted Davis on October 11, 2012 16:36

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Dear Editor,
'Overcharging foreigners in Thailand is a fact and it enjoys the support of the majority of Thais.There is no evidence to support this ridiculous and bigoted statement."

You must be thai or really blind, even in the hospital (government or private)
are 2 different price categories (thai & expat),I call both hospitals and ask how much is the cost for full body check, answer deepens are you expat or thai, same treatment but different price (this is fact and no joke ) national parks expat 300 baht - thai for free, why?
Phuket zoo expat 350 baht - thai 60 baht, why?
So please stop talking nonsense editor.
Expat/Farrang Rafael

Posted by Rafael on October 11, 2012 16:37

Editor Comment:

The basic necessities are all available at the same price, Rafael. Even all hospitals do not have separate rates. I suggest you shop around, as you would do anywhere if anyone tried to ask a price that you thought was not fair. My eyesight is fine, thanks.

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Ed

like I wrote, I'm FOR progressive taxes and wealth redistribution, so I don't need you to tell me start sharing the cake fairly thank you very much! I do object though, to using the word "fair" when describing this or any other redistribution program or system. fair means paying the same, or being taxed the same amount. But this would, in my mind, bring unacceptable social problems and suffering, so the fair system is not workable.

What's next on your "fairness" agenda? having people carry a card of a certain colour indicating which income bracket I belong too, so restaurants and department stores and car sellers know how much to charge me? That is called DISCRIMINATION. And double pricing is clearly discriminatory, especially when it hangs on a persons ethnicity/nationality. Why are you so fervently defending double pricing even at hospitals?

Posted by christian on October 11, 2012 18:32

Editor Comment:

I don't defend double pricing. I am saying that it's as fair as any other system, and probably more fair than most when you look at the respective ability of tourists and locals to pay. In some countries, locals are excluded from seeing the native animals of their own traditions and histories because of the high price of admission to parks. Your definitions of what's fair and what's discriminatory are very different to mine. Fair systems are ones where people pay what they can afford. In most countries, tax system are based on just that logic. Sorry, I must have dropped off to sleep and missed whatever point you were previously not quite making. This is all off-topic and I don't have time to continue the debate.

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Dear Editor,
"The basic necessities are all available at the same price, Rafael. Even all hospitals do not have separate rates. I suggest you shop around, as you would do anywhere if anyone tried to ask a price that you thought was not fair."
I just done 3 phone calls and ask 2 private & 1 government hospital for the price for a simple body check up baht, I ask my misses (thai lady) to do the same and the nurses ask her is your husband thai, she answered yes 360 baht.
Editor how come the price different between expat/farrang/non thai/thai citizen according to your comment this is impossible, just for curiosity, I record all phone calls my girlfriend and mine all on my Mobil. So I would like to invite you for a coffee and present you my witness and hard evident s (recorded phone call English & Thai).
Why you are at least today say, yes guys you are right you pay more then thai people in phuket, thailand.
Rafael

Posted by Rafael on October 11, 2012 21:41

Editor Comment:

Food, clothing and housing are the basic necessities, Rafael. If needs be, public hospitals will treat you and seek payment later. I suspect this is a ''fairer'' arrangement than in many other countries. You will get speedy attention on Phuket yet wait months or years in some other countries. If you have a problem getting the health care you need, you have my sympathy. However, it would not be fair to condemn the system on Phuket for double-pricing. I support the concept of users paying what they can afford. Public hospitals on Phuket treat people, whatever their background, when they need to be treated. Questions about ability to pay are usually asked later. If there is a fairer system, I haven't encountered it.

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Dear Editor,
"Food, clothing and housing are the basic necessities, Rafael. If needs be, public hospitals will treat you and seek payment later. I suspect this is a ''fairer'' arrangement than in many other countries."
I do agree with you for "Food, clothing and housing are the basic necessities"
About hospital treatment treat you and payment later I have again different experience "no money (in advance) no treatment. We can talk for ages and the whole day long still, you didn't convince me about thai and farrang pricing. Are we not humans all of us (thai, non thai, expat& farrang) or we are just second class humans for thai people?
Rafael

Posted by Rafael on October 12, 2012 14:20

Editor Comment:

No-one is arguing that ''we are just second class humans for thai people,'' Rafael. It's all in your own mind. And that's very, very, sad. I suggest you go wherever you feel secure and content. Thailand is probably not right for you.

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Dear Editor,
maybe you are right, I should move on back to Europe where people treat equally.
It was nice to talking to you, have a nice day and weekend.
Rafael

Posted by Rafael on October 12, 2012 15:57

Editor Comment:

I think you will find Europe is full of the same people as here, Rafael. The haves and the have-nots. Good luck with your quest for equality.


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