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Village chiefs with jobs for life gather on Phuket today to resist elections

Phuket Village Chiefs Resist Plan to End Lifetime Appointments

Friday, October 5, 2012
PHUKET: About 100 of Phuket's village leaders turned out today at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City to resist moves to have them face elections every five years.

Phuket's village leaders or pooyaibaan are traditionally appointed for life. So are the district chiefs, or gamnan, who also face the prospect of a regular election.

They earn a salary and are entitled to keep a ''peacemaker'' firearm in case of a serious disturbance in the village.

Across Thailand there are 7077 district chiefs, earning 10,000 baht a month, and 68,785 village leaders, earning 8000 baht a month for life.

There are also an equal number of deputy village leaders, earning 5000 baht.

The move to bring the traditional village ways into the 21st century has little appeal for the existing holders of the positions.

However, as proponents of the elections every five years have pointed out, village chief are just as prone as others to run off with a younger woman or change character with the passing of time.

Today at Phuket Provincial Hall the village chiefs gathered at 9am and carried a banner urging MPs to drop their proposal or face a campaign in response from the villages.

Village chiefs are usually the first person contacted whenever there are problems, large or small.

If the village chief can't solve the problem or end perhaps a small dispute between neighbors peacefully, the issue is then elevated to the district chief for settlement.

The gathering presented a letter today to the senior officer at Phuket Provincial Hall, Chaiwat Thapee, to forward to Bangkok.

A similar reaction can be expected from village leaders and district chiefs around Thailand.

Comments

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The traditional role of village head was supposed to be wise council. All too often they are greedy dictators who expect to control or get a commission for anything done in their village.

Many of them don't even live in their villages any more. I know a village in Phang-nga where the Phu Yai baan actually lives in Phuket. He does nothing and only turns up in the village when there is an earn for himself. This is quite normal now and the people are sick of these do-nothing power abusers.

Posted by logbags on October 5, 2012 12:24

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Village Chief has a fleet of black taxis on a B8,000 salary. Hmmmm... Whenever I have a problem with the noise from the beach bar, flood from the persistent rain, hogging motorbike vendors & beach restaurant seafood displays at the limited space car park, tourists dumping excess garbage in my residential bin which then the Or Bor Tor does not clear; I call the Village Chief... he either does not answer or his phone is turned off. When I get the police involved, he is most quick to say... "any problem at any time, please call me on my mobile"

Posted by h2obabe on October 5, 2012 12:48

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I say they should be voted into office like everybody else. Of course there is a big resistance to change, this action would cut off their greed, control and corruption of areas or villages. Brace yourselves for more street blockades if they don't get their own way.

Posted by Robin on October 5, 2012 13:25

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A Thai website has 88% of people wanting the elections and 12% wanting to keep things the same. I suspect the 12% are car dealerships. The 10,000 and 8,000 baht a month salary are perfect for monthly payments on a new car. In Nakhon Sri it is quite amusing to see all the brand new Ford Rangers, Fortuners and Chevrolets parked outside the police station and municipal offices.

Posted by logbags on October 5, 2012 13:46

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Not surprised they don't want to give up their Golden Egg. I know elected Ganmen elsewhere in the country who genuinely care about their people, not feathering their nests. A shake-up every five years and a restriction on the number of terms would be a great idea- shame it can't be applied to other elections around the place.

Posted by Mister Ree on October 5, 2012 14:12

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Elections have to come if Thailand is to eliminate the corruption life time appointments always seem to bring

Posted by Arthur on October 5, 2012 16:56


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