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Sa Ton Pho protest disbands on officials’ promises to uphold promises

Sa Ton Pho protest disbands on officials’ promises to uphold promises

PHUKET: The people of the Sa Ton Pho community, rendered homeless through government policy, disbanded their camp last night and left their camp site set up in front of Phuket Provincial Hall.

By The Phuket News

Friday 6 May 2022, 10:27AM

The confirmation came through an unusually early report posted by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department (PR Phuket) this morning (May 6).

The report gave no indication of where the people are now seeking refuge.

The gathering, number 78 people from 23 “households”, set up camp in front of the B486 million Provincial Hall, which officially opened only last November, to protest being evicted from unused state land in Rassada by the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO).

The reason given for the eviction was that the land had not been officially designated for habitation by residents.

The eviction, enacted by legal means, not physical force, had left the community homeless, explained Chonthee Changruenkul, coordinator of the Phuket Community Rights Development Network.

The campsite protest was to highlight the community’s plight, long ignored by local officials despite a Cabinet resolution in 2010, he added.

The community’s needs were heard yet again by Phuket officials yesterday.

The group was represented during a protest in front of Phuket Provincial Hall in March, calling for the Phuket Provincial Government to finally take some action to uphold national government directives already approved to provide a means for poor people to be able to legally reside somewhere.

That protest highlighted that Phuket officials had taken no action on the national policy despite Governor Narong Woonciew signing the provincial order enacting the policy provisions at provincial level in Phuket on Feb 1 this year.

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Yet, Phuket Vice Governor Anupap Rodkwan Yodrabam yesterday delivered no promises other than that officials will continue to meet and discuss the issue.

However, that was enough to convince the group to disband the protest, said the PR Phuket report this morning.

Of note, the protest was proving to be an ugly blight in front of Phuket officials’ grand new home of administration.

Discussions yesterday led to the suggestion that the residents be allowed to live on unused state land near Saphan Hin controlled by Phuket City Municipality.

Provincial officials will meet with Phuket City Municipality  next week to discuss the proposal, Vice Governor Anupap said yesterday.

Part of the agreement hammered out in the talks between Mr Chantree and Vice Governor Anupap yesterday was that Phuket officials will designate an area for the community to live, in line with an MoU already brokered by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) with the Phuket Provincial Government ‒ and signed the Director-General of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR).

Of note, involved in the talks yesterday were local representatives of the People’s Social Justice Movement (PMove), a national organisation supporting people’s rights.

Additional reporting Eakkapop Thongtub

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