The event was praised as a way “doing good” under the theme “We do good by heart”.
Region 8 Police Acting Commander Lt Gen Pongwut Pongsri presided over the event, joined by Region 8 Police Deputy Commander Lt Gen Chalit Thinthanee and Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Wisan Panmanee.
During the activity, an estimated 500 people, mostly volunteers including students, teachers, government officials and private hotel staff from the area, cleaned up litter, pruned trees, clean the streets and buildings, and even re-painted the giant fake turtle eggs at the site in pristine white.
“This activity will express power of the people of all groups to meet the royal intention for everyone to have a volunteer spirit in doing good deeds and participation in solving basic problems in the community and society without hoping for compensation,” said a release by the Phket office of the Public Relations Department.
Not mentioned in the release was any mention of any representatives from the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor), which after nearly a decade of failing to gain public support for the project finally built the Welcome Gate for more than B50 million, with the site opening in June 2007.
Since then, however, the Welcome Gate has consistently failed to achieve the lofty aspiration of making it “a major Phuket attraction” located as the first major construction visitors pass while driving onto the island.
Mostly, it is used as a scenic rest stop.
Recent attempts to lure market vendors to return to the site to create a market atmosphere have also struggled, as one of the repeated attempts by the PPAO, pouring more money into the project year after year, to breathe new life into the site.
Most recently, Phuket Governor at the time Norraphat Plodthong in 2017 announced a major push to renovate the Welcome Gate through a project, for which the budget amount remained undisclosed. (See story here.)
Repeated attempts by journalists in Phuket to confirm exactly how much government money has been spent on the Welcome Gate over the years have been parried by the PPAO.