PHUKET: The next couple of months are Phuket's best chance, and possibly the last chance, to solve the chronic problems plaguing the international holiday island.
Phuketwan wants to see the current investigation succeed. We want to see quick results.
We want to see the guilty arrested and punished. We want to see an end to local councils building over canals, giving permission for a favored few to encroach on public land, and turning a blind eye to developments above 80 metres.
We want to see the power of the taxi and tuk-tuk monopolies destroyed. We want the roads cleared for public parking, we want call centres, and we want the present fat taxi and tuk-tuk fares cut in half.
We want Phuket's beaches and its coral reefs saved for future generations. Annual cleanups are useful but just a token BandAid. The fishing industry must be controlled for the sake of the tourism industry.
Most of all, we want an end to serious corruption on Phuket. This involves Thailand's Government and all of its agencies.
It's common knowledge in Patong that 14 government organisations take bribes to allow businesses in the west coast holiday centre to run relatively free from law enforcement.
In November last year, the President of the Entertainment Association of Patong, Weerawit Kuresombut,told Phuketwan that the Marine Police, the Tourist Police and the Anti-Human Trafficking Division were also seeking their share.
''It's like a big [corruption] cake,'' he said.''Everybody wants to eat it.'' And it's worth remembering who pays for all that corruption: Phuket's tourists.
''If the corruption continues to grow at this rate, the tourists who come to Phuket will go to other destinations,'' Khun Weerawit told us.
Embattled Patong businessman Prab Keesin knows where all the faults in the current corrupt system can be found. He also knows that those who are taking the bribes, not those who are paying them, are the real ''mafia.''
It's time for the corrupt officials on Phuket, the real ''mafia,'' to stop. Those who continue must be arrested and convicted, along with any private citizens who until now have been above the law.
Phuket and Thailand will never have a better opportunity to clean up corruption on the holiday island, then to use the lessons learned on Phuket to clean up corruption throughout the entire country.
It's time to prove that Thailand is serious about becoming an honest place to visit and to do business. Can Thailand be trusted? The next two months will provide an answer. The world is watching.