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Honorary consul elect Claude de Crissey (centre) at yesterday's meeting

Next Governor Must Make the Changes

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
PHUKET: Dr Sommai Preechasin, Phuket's female vice governor, could be the next Governor of Phuket, present Governor Tri Augkaradacha said yesterday in farewelling Phuket's honorary consuls.

An announcement has yet to be made but Dr Sommai, the most senior of Phuket's three vice governors, sat alongside Governor Tri on the podium at the animated gathering.

Discussions on the fairness of Phuket taxi fares and jet-skis highlighted the latest in the series of innovative talks at Provincial Hall in Phuket City.

While the original concept was for the honorary consuls to meet with Phuket's governor and key administration officials every three months, yesterday's meeting was just the second this year.

It's believed that the honorary consuls have tried some informal meetings since February and opted to return to the publicly reported model.

Introduced in 2010 in response to an idea by the then German ambassador, the meetings have become the only means of gauging the opinions of expat residents and tourists to changing Phuket.

Discussions by the national government this week about a proposed independently elected Phuket governor may alter Phuket even more radically.

Whatever the outcome of that concept, a forum for raising an international users' perspective on Phuket remains essential. The honorary consuls, who deal with complaints by tourists, are the people best equipped to represent them.

Phuketwan maintains that what happens between the meetings is more important than the meetings themselves, and that the three-monthly gatherings should merely recognise good work done behind the scenes to solve the island's problems.

It's regrettable, for example, that the opinions of the tourists' representatives should only have been sought after a new schedule of fares had been negotiated with Phuket's taxi drivers.

Will these opinions now be conveyed to Phuket's taxi drivers?

Everyone on Phuket knows how fast a taxi driver can move when he wants to get to the airport in a hurry, but how fast can the Phuket taxi system be reformed to deliver international standards and fair fares?

In other highlights yesterday, the honorary consuls thanked Governor Tri for his time and service as governor and as vice governor and wished him well for the future, which he says will involve a move to Bangkok.

Welcomed yesterday was French honorary consul elect Claude de Crissey, who as a local businessman and head of Patong's volunteer Tourist Police already has a sound knowledge about Phuket.

Governor Tri made the point that an honorary consul will shortly be appointed for Nepal. He paid a visit to Nepal earlier this year.

The next Phuket Governor will be Phuket's fifth governor in the space of five years.

Governor Niran Kalayanimit, a former vice governor, administered Phuket when Phuketwan began in January, 2008.

On the day of our first interview, he had just had the Bangkok government reject his budget application for a return of revenue to the island to match Phuket's real population.

He was dismayed at the decision. Like all the governors, he recognised Phuket's failings but was hampered in his bid to bring commonsense and fairness to running Phuket.

His successor, Dr Preecha Ruangjan, hit the Phuket ground running. He toured the island on the back of a motorcycle, incognito, to get a sense of his task.

He realised how difficult the assignment might become when he went for a walk along a beach and was ordered off. ''This is a private beach,'' a security guard told the Phuket Governor. He aimed to make sure that did not happen again.

Full of good ideas, he must have annoyed someone and he was transferred off the island within months.

We'd met Phuket's next governor, Wichai Praisa-gnob, when he was Governor of Phang Nga, where he had solved some chronic flooding problems in the west coast capital, Takuapa.

An outgoing man capable of making quick decisions, he told us he was amazed at the number of problems he'd inherited in taking on the Phuket job.

He aimed to give Phuket a better roads system and went some way towards doing that. His universal insurance system to control the jet-ski scammers, however, remains controversial. Now Governor Wichai is a senator.

Governor Tri will be remembered as a conciliator and, like his predecessors, a governor who could see the scale of Phuket's problems.

Realistically, 21st century governors do not have the power to deal with many of Phuket's issues. What each of them inherits is decades of neglect and lack of forward-thinking.

In one sense, the pace of change on Phuket is quickening. But in an administrative sense, Phuket has not changed enough.

It's essential for the next governor, whoever that person might be, to be given the power to make the changes that all of the governors of the past five years recognised as being necessary, but were unable to implement.

Comments

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Unfortunately no matter what is conveyed to the taxi drivers the status quo will remain, as we have seen by this latest example. Khun Wichai seemed to want to make a difference but was thwarted at every turn, whilst Khun Tri again was seen to be a figurehead, with little progress made under his stewardship. This is no means a criticism of them but of the system. If I had two years to go before MY retirement I would be unlikely to make waves either - it's just ingrained here. Just as someone settles into a job they are moved on - only a governor with real power (appointed NOT elected) with a 5 year term would be likely to make a change. I pity (but respect) the next person in the job as again they will find their hands tied by the real power behind Phuket which has little interest in progress and cracking the Golden Egg (which in reality has been addled for a while now).

Posted by Mister Ree on September 18, 2012 10:53

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Good article. Governor's job become tougher where lot of money is spinning around. These Gov can have all the good intentions but how is it that none is kept long enough to do his job ? When taxis, jet skis and other law-breaking businesses are about to be dealt with, someone from bkk pulls the strings taking them out of stage.

Posted by cekipa on September 19, 2012 11:16


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