Mayor's son urges autonomy for Patong
PHUKET: Preechawut “Prap” Keesin, the son of Patong Mayor Pian Keesin, met with government officials and tourist industry representatives on July 20 to throw his weight behind a proposal for Patong to become a self-governing municipal area (SGMA), like Pattaya.
Friday 20 July 2012, 06:06PM
Mr Preechawut – who is also MD of Pisona Co, which owns numerous hotels and restaurants on the island, and president of the Patong Taxi Federation and president of the committee that oversees the quality of police work in Patong – said this would safeguard the town against the potentially harmful effects of the Asean Economy Community, which comes into being three years from now.
It would also allow the town to bypass approval from other Phuket authorities, give it complete autonomy over its actions and make it answerable only to the Prime Minister.
He believed that if Patong were made to become an SGMA, this would eventually solve many of the town’s problems, as people would be answerable to just one governing body, as opposed to many different regulatory bodies – which he believes have ties with local mafia.
He said, “If we are still involved with the local mafia, and not an SGMA, when the AEC comes into being, Patong’s [wellbeing] will be in other people’s hands.”
Also speaking during the meeting was Inspector-General of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Pridee Chotchuang, who warned about the potential risks faced by the tourist industry once the AEC is introduced.
He said, “There may be various environmental concerns, such as the spread of diseases, for example.” He also mentioned that, because many Asian countries were more technologically advanced, Thailand would be at a disadvantage.
“Therefore, we must be strong at working together. We won’t go so far if local people are still under the control of the local mafia.”
The general consensus was that Patong and its citizens must improve services, especially with regard to tourist accommodation, transportation and reduction of the influence of local mafia. People should also be able to speak at least three languages (Thai, English and one other such as Russian, or one of the Chinese langauges).
The Secretary of the Tambon Association of Southern Thailand, Jinda Boonchan, said that Patong was also at risk from an oversupply of hotels and restaurants, and that demand for accommodation was currently not high enough.
The final inspirational word came from Mr Pridee who said, “We must stand up for what we believe in.”