The project is being funded by the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor).
Present to lead the official part of the event was PPAO President Rewat Areerob, joined by other leading PPAO council members as well as Thalang District Chief Suwit Suriyawong and a host of other local officials.
Also present was Komol Dumlak, Chairman of the Phuket Islamic Committee, and representatives of the Phuket Provincial Islamic Women’s Affairs Working Group.
“The PPAO has foreseen the importance of every religion that the people of Phuket respect. Therefore, the construction of an Islamic Ethics Training Center in Phuket Province has been established. as a venue for meetings, training, seminars and various activities for children, youth and the general public,” Mr Rewat said.
“The center is for promoting to children, youth and the general public to cultivate morals and ethics. It is to be a place to support religious activities at the provincial, regional and national level,” he added.
The project has previously been the target of malicious posts online, claiming that the Phuket government was spending B250mn on the project.
Pol Col Krishna Pattanacharoen, deputy spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, in October revealed that the national Anti-Fake News Center had confirmed the posts online as bogus after “checking facts” with the official Phuket Public Relations (PR) office, who confirmed the post was untrue.
PR Phuket confirmed a construction project was in the pipeline but for an Islamic Ethics Training Center as part of the policy of promoting and upholding all religions, and not a mosque.
The PR Phuket office also added that the allocated budget for the project had been set at B56mn as part of the 2019 fiscal budget and not B250mn as claimed in the post.
The 19-rai site next to the Thalang Technical College for the construction of the centre is within the boundaries of the Bang Khanun National Protected Forest.
“Permission to build had been granted to the PPAO by the Forest Department and a contract has been signed and full surveyance completed to establish the construction boundaries,” the Anti-Fake News Center explained.
Col Krishna reiterated that people should not trust such inaccurate information and called for cooperation from people to not share such information on social media channels.
He added that fake news is damaging in that it not only distorts the facts but can confuse people and ultimately be detrimental to the country.
However, the land around Thalang Technical College is currently under investigation by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to determine which land remains private property as evidence of occupation and ownership presented by some claimants date back to before the legal decree establishing the protected forest reserve.
According to the DSI, a check of land holdings by people in the Bang Khanun National Reserved Forest found that there are 265 people who have rights to and use the forest area, totaling 310 plots, with an area of more than 2,698 rai.