First, on water shortages. At this time, it is important that we are all well organised and ensure that water supplies are enough to meet the Phuket people’s demands. The residential sector have the greatest needs, especially with a lot of new communities, including condominium and housing sub-divisions, popping up.
So, we have to manage water in each locale to make sure there will be enough.
The dry season not only means water shortages, but also poses other potential hazards – fire, for example we have to beware of fires because Phuket is really hot right now. I ask all residents to be extra careful when handling dry and flammable materials.
Next, I want to talk about beach management.
The beach management started at 0 in Phuket, and everything was banned. But I managed to allow to have umbrellas in special zones, which vary at each beach depending on the geography of each.
I think tourists need umbrellas for relaxing, but we didn’t allow sunbeds on the beach because they take up a lot of space. So, 10 per cent is enough for relaxing. If sunbeds were allowed too, then they would need to occupy too much space, and it wouldn’t be much different from before.
We need to help each other and work together, I know that is hard.
Some tourists want the same as before, but the rules have changed. They can’t smoke or drink beer and leave beer bottles and caps on the public space.
Tourists must heed to the rules in their own country. So, this is our country, why can’t we respect the rules here?
What would you do think if you were governor and had to clean up the beach which is full of beer bottles and caps. And then I said, Phuket beaches are beautiful, but it’s not true.
It is time to preserve and clean the beaches together. Even if some think ‘it is too strict’. We aren’t strict. The law clearly states that “making [and selling] food and smoking on beach is not allowed”. It is the law. We must enforce it. If I don’t for the Phuket people, then who will?
Just drinking [non alcoholic beverages] and snacks are allowed. But Som Tum and grilled chicken, for example, are not snacks. These rules are to preserve the beach.
[Note from editor: The Public Health Act of Thailand does not actually ban “eating” but rather “selling” and “disposing” of food rubbish on public land. However, the local government is asking for cooperation from people not to “eat meals” on public beaches to prevent the chance of rubbish accumulation. Interestingly, much of the rubbish found on the beaches not only comes from Thai food vendors, but includes packaging and wrappers from “snacks” likewise]
Tourists must respect the rules and laws in their country. Then, they should understand and respect our rules, too.
I hope that vendors will understand it. We can’t just use beaches too much without giving any breaks. Beaches need to be taken care of. And, Phuket tourism’s well-known product is the beach. Why don’t we preserve the beach?
Forget everything about who owns what on the beach or how long sunbeds have been there. Our beach management has been overlooked for quite some time.
I don’t use emotions to govern, but facts and statistics. And, the beach management is not just my idea. I work together with Phuket police, local organisations, tourist police, Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket Office, the Tourism Ministry’s Phuket Office and 3rd Area Naval Command.
Wastewater is another issue Phuket is dealing with.
At Nong Han beach in Karon I’ve been informed about waste water issues. I went to check Karon’s municipality’s water treatment. The water I saw was not waste water, yet the sand is a black colour in some areas. Sometimes the waste water is more than the water treatment facility can handle. It is over loaded and [the wastewater can] spread to other water sources.
The facility there can only handle 6,000 cubic metres per day. Now, I told Karon Municipality to prepare to increase this up to 9000 cu/m with a projected completion date sometime between 2016 and 2017.
And, I don’t support anyone who wants to take photos with wild animals. I am worried about diseases which might spread.
On security, we’ve injected B44 million into improving CCTV coverage, especially via the CCTV centre at Patong Municipality. Now the coverage area is a lot wider, and we can ease the monitoring of some areas.
As for complaints about Chinese tourists, it’s a matter of maintaining and developing country relations. It is not just Chinese tourists [who are disrespectful and inconsiderate to local customs], but others too. It is an issue that we have to explain to tourists, to better understand Thai rules and customs. We have to explain to them to understand, not just blame them.
We shouldn’t just focus on the nationality. Many of them won’t know Thai culture or Thai rules. Please don’t judge them so quickly. If they know the rules and culture, they will not break them. So we must just present that we have rules which they should follow.
In conclusion, we have to work together on all these issues – step by step. As time passes, things will get better. People will accept things.
Everyone is like a watch, we all play an important role to keep things ticking, doing our duty fully. It is not just officials who play a part.