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A hand goes up when a photographer gets too close

Phuket DIY Road Through Mangroves Almost Begins

Saturday, June 19, 2010
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FIVE hundred Phuket people gathered this afternoon to blaze a path through a mangrove forest in Phuket City themselves, determined to bring to a head a long-standing dispute over the Sakideach Road.

A 590 metre stretch of concrete and tar through the forest near Phuket City's Saphan Hin public park would complete a fairly obvious missing piece in the Phuket transport jigsaw.

The short stretch of road has long been at the centre of a disagreement between Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob and the head of the Natural Resources and Environment Phuket office, Ong-art Chanachanmongkol.

With the governor in Spain for a week, hundreds of supporters of the network link intended to use a backhoe today to start work on the road project, even though permission has not been granted.

Some among the crowd wore medical masks and the atmosphere at the scene was intense, with Phuketwan and other media warned not to take photographs, even though for the most part, a picnic atmosphere prevailed.

Some kind benefactor provided free food and water for everyone. The wait went on and on for most of the afternoon, with crowds milling about in expectation of the backhoe's arrival.

Leaders of the dispute made speech after speech from the back of a pickup, urging the crowd to hang about in support of the do-it-yourself road project.

After three hours, word came that the backhoe had been intercepted by the authorities and would not be arriving to help start the project.

Today's round clearly went to Khun Ong-art on points. But supporters of the project told Phuketwan that the next step will probably be less audacious and more covert, with the plan still to clear the 590-metre stretch, whether or not official approval has been given.

Governor Wichai has made his view plain, and if he wasn't in another country, he would have been obliged to intervene to stop today's illegal action.

While Governor Wichai sees himself as an environmentalist and has attempted to prevent abuses of the environmental approvals process, he also wants some key roads built on Phuket, most notably the route over the hills from Chalong to Patong, the second highway from the airport to Phuket City, and the short Sakideach link that would provide easier access to two schools and a department of Prince of Songkla University, relieving existing congestion.

Khun Ong-art, on the other hand, says he has insufficient resources to prevent some of the illegal tree felling in Phuket's hills and the building of some structures above 80 metres, but the head of his department in Bangkok is insisting that proper approval is needed for all new roads.

The stand-off provides a fascinating insight into the key issues facing Phuket. Some development is clearly necessary, but how does the government provide sufficient development without unleashing too much?

Governor Wichai and Khun Ong-art are both keen on hearing from anyone with an answer.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Someone's land needs an access point I guess.

Editor: No, it's just protected mangroves, leading to a public park filled with public buildings.

Posted by Benjie on June 20, 2010 01:30

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Mob Rules again in Thailand?

Posted by Chris F on June 20, 2010 10:25

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A bridge sounds like a solution but not being familiar enough with the site, I'm not sure if it's a technically viable option.

Editor: Yes, comment without research. Thanks, Amazing Thailand.

Posted by Amazing Thailand on June 20, 2010 21:13

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I guess I really hit a nerve there with the letter you didn't have the guts to publish. Didn't think you'd take it so hard when proven wrong.
You can provoke, patronize and ridicule your readers all you want, I'm done with reading your publication. Something I'm sure you couldn't care less about.
Listening to an old, disgruntled man incapable of accepting any views different from his own leaves me and many others cold, too.
You need to lighten up a bit m8.

Cheers, Jack

Posted by Amazing Thailand on June 20, 2010 21:59

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Very poor tone from the editor here. I think he should reconsider what the purpose of a forum is and what his role in it should be.
Not sure if there is some kind of ongoing virtual fued between these two, but this looks extremely petty and unprofessional on the face of it.

Editor: The purpose of the Comment section is plain and all viewpoints are tolerated, provided there's the sense that the commenter is not just indulging in a tireless attempt at denigration or insults disguised as opinion. Some sites tolerate no personal criticism whatsoever. Some sites won't publish anonymous comments. We believe genuine criticism from genuine people will always be valid, but persistent knockers and those who are only interested in point-scoring will be treated accordingly. As we've pointed out before, there was a time when writers of letters to newspapers had to prove their identity, and when real names appeared on those letters. The internet has changed that situation so that people with no identity who have no aim except discord now have a say, and cry ''what about free speech'' when their warped objectives are challenged. Yes, Anonymous, on this site, there is always the chance of the editor/moderator shooting back at messenger-shooters. ''Poor tone'' or not, that's the price of entry. Use your freedom of speech wisely.

Posted by Anonymous on June 21, 2010 02:02

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Editor - having read your lengthy reply, I still stand by what I said. Whatever the history between you two, as an outsider, it APPEARS that you are ridiculing someone's post. This would certainly discourage other readers from contributing with their views. The wonderful irony of it all being the last sentence of your article encouraging people to bring their ideas to the table!
Like I said before, I may be misinterpreting your exchanges - all I am offering is my honest reaction and 'advice' based on what I read. Of course you don't have to accept it. Not my intention to offend in any way.

Editor: My problem with Amazing Thailand centred on his/her reluctance to accept that we compile MediaWATCH on a daily basis, using the text from other usually-reliable sources, and can't be held responsible for every word. Amazing Thailand's eagle eye noted a mistake I'd made in a Comment response, not in an article, and I clarified that. He/she wanted more. Some people get the idea in their heads that journalists are supposed to be able to carry their complaints to authorities, to dutifully report back, and to then find the time to not only check everybody else's facts but also debate at length minor issues of grammar. They are living in the 1960s. What people expect at no cost to themselves never ceases to amaze me. The costs on this side of the ledger are quite high, and editors are human, too. I am certainly going to remain abrupt and perhaps even terse with readers who consume too much precious time with idle or irrelevant stuff, and especially those who set one standard for us and another for themselves. This is a Comment forum based on the content in the article, so we have some knowledge of the topic. There is no comparison with chat forums where the thread often begins from scratch and crackpot ideas sometimes flourish or are even encouraged. People may form the view that I am being snappy and unfair. Others will see the same response as appropriate: there are as many degrees of civility as there are cultures. Our aim is always instant clarity. On the ledger of insults, we score far, far more than we dish out, and often unreasonably so, yet somehow we are expected to show exceptional restraint in response. So of course, we always do . . .

I should add that I'm usually reluctant to reply at this length to people who remain Anonymous, simply because it's like talking to the wall: you don't do it unless you feel you absolutely must, especially at 4.46 in the morning. I do hope my answer settles all your remaining concerns.

Posted by Anonymous on June 22, 2010 00:50

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Thank you editor. For your special efforts, I shall reveal my true identity!

All the best.

Posted by Fergus B on June 22, 2010 14:01


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