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Former governor Wichai Praisa-ngob opts to ''give Phuket what it needs.''

Phuket Replay Doing It Senator Wichai's Way

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
TOURISM or transport will become the specialist subject for former Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob when he takes his seat soon in Thailand's Senate, potentially a fresh force for change.

Under the charismatic ex-administrator's watch, jet-ski rip-offs, tuk-tuk extortion and the absence of a proper public transport network all became big talking points on Phuket.

They are still big talking points. In his first interview with Phuketwan as a freshly appointed senator, the former Phuket governor said he was anxious to begin his new role - and to help Phuket where he could.

''I won't have the power to decide anything but I will be able to make suggestions and push for worthy projects,'' he said from his farm home in Nakornphatom province, where he has been growing and selling trees and plants.

Senator Wichai said that putting meters into tuk-tuks and taxis on Phuket and reasserting proper management of scamming jet-ski operators remained high on his list of things that Phuket needs.

Coincidentally, his appointment comes as Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban oversees a six-week investigation of rip-offs on Phuket and at other prominent destinations for tourists, as well as Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport.

Both moves are signs that improvements are possible in the face of Phuket's chronic flaws.

''I am happy to help Phuket to gain what it deserves,'' Senator Wichai said. ''As a former governor of both Phuket and Phang Nga, I have a fairly complete knowledge of the Andaman.

''I intend to give Phuket what it needs, not what it wants,'' he said, perhaps indicating a well-formed viewpoint.

While the senator was Governor of Phuket, he expressed a desire to slow development and introduced a special committee to control environmental permissions that had previously become too easy to gain.

What had he been doing after retirement? ''I'm a farmer, in the forest,'' he told Phuketwan, a comment that brought audible chuckles from his wife in the background.

Given his love of the Phuket palmyra and its introduction along the length of Phuket's backbone Thepkasattri Road from the airport to Phuket City, growing and selling trees seemed an ideal retirement role.

As a senator, his green thumb will now be turned up or down based on his first-hand knowledge of Phuket and Phang Nga.

After his appointment as governor pf Phuket, the biggest challenge became running the Asean summit involving US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after Thailand's reputation was marred when red-shirts invaded and ended an Asean summit in Pattaya in 2009.

Later that year, Phuket produced a regional foreign minister's summit without a hitch, establishing the island's reputation as an alternative trouble-free hub for air traffic especially when troubles strike in and around Bangkok.

The senator, now in his 60s, said that high rents for limos and cabs charged by Airports of Thailand at Phuket airport remained one of the causes behind excessively high taxi fares on Phuket, something he intends to change if he can.

''If tourism becomes my specialty, then I will certainly be looking at the quality of service,'' Senator Wichai said.

''Tourists have to meet the high prices that are being asked for transport and for food, and often there is no justification for these prices,'' he told Phuketwan.

''I hear that jet-ski operators are still scamming Phuket visitors. It's a pity that the innovative insurance scheme I introduced was not properly pursued.''

In perhaps a momentary understatement, Senator Wichai said Phuket was ''a bit different'' to other Thai provinces because of its mix of resident locals, sea gypsies, tourists, and people who came from other parts of Thailand looking for work.

''I hope I can do more, and I'd like to thank people for their continuing support,'' he said.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Former Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob was a good governor by all accounts.
I pray that Senator Wichai Praisa-ngob continues in his quest for a better Phuket for all people.
Chok dee sir.

Posted by Graham on April 20, 2011 12:00

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''I won't have the power to decide anything but I will be able to make suggestions and push for worthy projects,'' he said

So what exactly can he do as a Sen? Not a lot by the sounds of it. Is there anyone in Authority that can do anything?

An awful lot of lip service!

Posted by Graham on April 20, 2011 12:35

Editor Comment:

No more or no less power than any individual MP anywhere. Call it democracy.

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He says ''I won't have the power to decide anything but I will be able to make suggestions and push for worthy projects,''.
What I and I think many others get confused on, is WHO actually has power in Phuket to do anything?
The taxi problems - The police say we can't do anything. The Current governor - Can't do anything, so please can you inform us, your readers, Who does the responsibility of Phuket come under?
I get more and more confused, as everyone who (in our eyes) should be doing something, shirts the responsibility and says, it's not my job.
Can Phuketwan or the Senator answer this?

Posted by Tbs on April 20, 2011 13:34

Editor Comment:

Let's look at you, Tbs. Have you contacted your embassy or honorary consul? Made a phone call? Written a letter about any single issue?
Can't do anything? The answer is that Phuket will get what it gives, Tbs.

That applies as much to expat residents as any other group, although Senators and voters in theory have greater power.

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I would have to disagree with you there. The local council where I come from do their job. The Police where I come from, do their job as well. They know what their job entails and they don't pass the buck saying - it's not my responsibility. Also if they did say that, they would point you in the right direction as to whose responsibility it is.
So I don't see how contacting my embassy would stop the roads being poorly maintained or making cars drive slower.

Posted by Tbs on April 20, 2011 15:57

Editor Comment:

You are not where you come from. Best not to pretend that you are. To effect change, you need to make your opinion known to people who have some influence. The alternatives are obvious.

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"Editor Comment:

"You are not where you come from. Best not to pretend that you are. To effect change, you need to make your opinion known to people who have some influence. The alternatives are obvious.

"Editor Comment:

"Let's look at you, Tbs. Have you contacted your embassy or honorary consul? Made a phone call? Written a letter about any single issue?"

So what you are saying is that Phuket cannot make its own decisions, they seem to have to come from Honorary Consuls and the such, am I correct? Can Police control taxis and tuk-tuks? No. Can Police stop jet ski rip offs? No.

Number one question: who owns the tuk tuks??? The answer is simple, if the goverment and Police do nothing buth make concessions for fares, there has to be a connection. If a cruise liner has to make arrangements with tour busses/mini-vans and tuk tuks (prices alone for tuk-tuks are beyond belief to Patong!), but are forced into concessions for 50/50 transport deal, with the Police and Vice Governor present, something is wrong. So much for that maximum fare thing, or was that Patong only in on that scam?

Posted by Lee on April 20, 2011 16:59

Editor Comment:

If the answers were simple, Lee, you wouldn't ask so many questions. My views have been frequently expressed. Change will come, but only if stakeholders are consistent in their desire for change, and only if they understand the reasons why it can't all happen overnight. Longing for Phuket to more closely resemble other places achieves little.

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''I hear that jet-ski operators are still scamming Phuket visitors. It's a pity that the innovative insurance scheme I introduced was not properly pursued.'' He said!

Well.. why doesn't he fire the people he put in charge of the insurance plan?
What an ****** ****
Probably (moderated).

Posted by witheld on April 20, 2011 17:06

Editor Comment:

Guesswork and character assessments based on ignorance don't really achieve much.

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"Given his love of the Phuket palmyra and its introduction along the length of Phuket's backbone Thepkasattri Road from the airport to Phuket City, growing and selling trees seemed an ideal retirement role."

No wonder his wife chuckled. Maybe she could say where all those palmyra trees came from and how much Phuket paid for them.

Posted by Mike Boyd on April 20, 2011 17:07

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What a negative bunch of moaners you all are,what could you all do to change these problems? MOAN..Wichai has done and tried to do more positive things for Phuket than any governors before him, but as he said once before, he can only do so much. your fighting against Coruption and Greed, not easy solutions, Talk is cheap Action is even harder to acheive.. it takes years, but you have to keep trying, and i am sure Wichai will..

Posted by johndev on April 20, 2011 21:51

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yeah, he was a good governor - not sure Phuket will have another like him for a while because his style is rare for a Thai politician...

Posted by JingJing on April 20, 2011 22:56


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