Governor Norraphat is concluding only his term as Phuket Governor of just over one year, just like his predecessors for the past decade. The Phuket News recognises that it is challenging to have any real long-term effect with such a short tenure – and we have often questioned the effectiveness of Bangkok’s policy to rotate Phuket Governors so often.
Looking back, Governor Norraphat may consider himself just plain unlucky to have the deaths of 47 Chinese tourists, including children, on his hands and during his watch, when on July 5 when the Phoenix tour boat sank in Thailand’s worst maritime disaster in modern history. After all, he had done nothing more – or less – than any other Governor before him to improve marine tour safety, regardless of the constant of speedboat collisions, sinkings and drownings.
However, it has been very difficult to discern whether Governor Norraphat’s presence in Phuket has had any quantifiable positive impact at all.
People are dying on the roads at the same rate as when he arrived; police have openly reported that drugs are getting worse, nothing has changed in stemming rampant development, the island’s government offices have the same lack of transparency, and our lifeguard coverage at the beaches has been left in tatters.
Taking into account that Patong is still pumping untreated wastewater into Patong Bay, as is done at Surin Beach and elsewhere, and the fact that he has even failed during his term to enforce a Supreme Court order to evict tourism-business squatters from government land, it’s hard not to say that it’s got worse during the past year.
Gov Norraphat has noticeably strongly supported high-profile public litter cleanups, but even those were introduced by Chockchai Dejamornthan – the Phuket Governor that he replaced.
Yet, as we do each year, we wish the outgoing Governor a fond farewell and look forward to a new Governor with a breath of fresh hope.
The odd thing is that in this country, New Year comes slap bang in the middle of a seven Days of Danger campaign. At this stage we’re still hoping that’s just a coincidence.