Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong, Chairman of the Commission for Social Affairs for the underprivileged Wallop Tangkananuruk, along with 29 members of the NLA, representatives of the Prime Minister’s office, local government officials attended the discussion with representatives of the people at Phuket Rajabhat University.
Gov Norraphat welcomed members of the NLA to Phuket with statistics on Phuket’s tourism industry.
“Phuket is the largest island in the country with a total area of 543 square kilometres. On Dec 31, 2017, about 400,000 people were registered as residents in Phuket.
“More than two million tourists come to Phuket each year. Phuket contributes more than B300 billion annually to the nation.
“It is one of the 10 most popular tourist destinations from around the world. Phuket aims to develop as a hub for tourism and educational innovation, and sustainable development to become a developed city. Phuket has also been recognised by UNESCO as a food creativity city, one of 18 in the world,” he said.
“In Phuket, there are many problems. Problems like traffic jams, urban expansion, floods, and water shortages. These are the result of fast expansion of the tourism industry.
“So, Phuket has solutions and plans to develop with the following projects: the Phuket Gateway project in Tha Chatchai to become a landmark, Phuket City Development (PKCD) Smart City project, the Sport Complex, the development of legal and skilled guides, as well as the development of the city as a Medical Hub, and the development of deep sea ports to promote the yacht industry. However, problem solving in Phuket is complex due to legal constraints that are not appropriate for the context of the area,” explained Gov Norraphat.
“Phuket wants the government to improve laws and regulations related to various issues to be appropriate to the area of Phuket to lead to a concrete solution to the problem and meet the needs of the people,” he added.
Wallop Tangkananuruk then opened the discussion and clarified the roles and responsibilities of the work of the NLA, before responding to questions on a number of issues, including land encroachment, traffic problems, wastewater problems, environmental and natural resource degradation, improving the quality of tourism, and organising of migrant workers.
Former Phuket Senator Thanyarat Achariyachai and former member of the Phuket House of Representatives Rewat Areerob brought up the issue that many of Phuket’s problems are due to a lack of budget.
“The government should not allocate a budget to the area of Phuket based on the population, because Phuket has made a lot of money for the country. However, the budget is a very small amount and is insufficient for the rate of development of the area, so the government should amend tax rules to be clear,” said Ms Thanyarat.
“Every problem that the people present to the NLA will be presented to the Prime Minister and related agencies to solve problems for people in Phuket area,” Gov Norraphat assured.
Later in the afternoon, Head of the NLA delegation to Phuket Gen Danai Meechuvat, NLA members, and Inspector-General of the Prime Minister’s Office Prapasarn Amarithikit met with Vice Governor Snith Sriwihok, government officials and Royal Thai Navy officials at Phuket Town Hall for a meeting amongst themselves.
V/Gov Snith said, “It is said that Phuket is a city with a long history, with a prominent culture. In the era of mining, the economy was very prosperous, and at the end of the mining era, it entered the urban tourism and tourism industries, which also generated revenue to the country.”
Problems discussed regarded land acquisition, beach organisation, urban planning, the difficulty to integrate sustainable tourism and the management of public health.
The NLA expressed that it is ready to help regulate law and regulations related to urban planning for results as soon as possible, such as the acceleration of plans for the flood control project “Kaem Ling”, or “Monkey’s Cheeks” project.
The NLA members advised solutions of land issues and requested officials be careful in dealing with land on Racha Island.
The NLA also expressed that it has found that Phuket is responsible for the care of patients in the public health system, three times more than the allocated budget.
“There is a shortage of public health personnel not in line with the number of public users. The NLA will raise this information to set up guidelines to solve the problem of public health management in Phuket,” said Gen Danai.
Phuket officials also raised the issue of teen pregnancy amongst labour workers causing orphans to become a social burden upon Phuket.
“So let the province put forward a solution to this problem as soon as possible,” said Gen Danai.
“There is also the problem of bed-ridden patients who lack the care of the government. Therefore, the agency concerned should accelerate resolving the problem of bed care patients having a better quality of life,” he said.
Lastly, the NLA presented information on garbage and waste problems in Rawai district, problems of not wearing helmets, drug problems, sex problems such as diseases and pregnancy, problems using online media and forgetting culture and art amongst the youth.
The NLA expressed that they would like to help the government to promote learning English skills for the youth, as Phuket is an international tourist destination.
“The NLA has come to Phuket and has gained insights into all of the concerns for the Phuket people. After this, we will summarise all the information for the Prime Minister to find out how to set the policy for the development of Phuket,” said Gen Danai.