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Welcoming HMAS Canberra: Australian Navy head to Phuket for training and community activities

Welcoming HMAS Canberra: Australian Navy head to Phuket for training and community activities

Between Apr 27-30, residents of Patong may have a question or two, namely, “What on Earth is Australia’s largest warship doing in our bay?”

By Dr Peter W Harris

Monday 22 April 2019, 10:00AM

Fear not. The arrival of HMAS Canberra, the 27,000-tonne helicopter land­ing dock, is part of an Indo-Pacific Endeavour which will see Australian and Thai personnel working together in training exercises and community ac­tivities over three days.

Australian military personnel will work with the Royal Thai Navy, police and disaster-prevention agencies in a number of training activities, including a tabletop exercise on maritime secu­rity in which they’ll team up to solve a simulated search-and-rescue.

The Australian Ambassador to Thai­land, Allan McKinnon, said the visit is an important opportunity to cooperate in security and stability for the region.

“Thailand is a very important secu­rity partner for Australia,” he said.

“Our cooperation spans defence, counter-terrorism, border protection, combatting transnational crime and preventing human trafficking and peo­ple smuggling.”

On land, personnel will assist with the clean-up on Koh Siray on Apr 29. As I’ve mentioned in my previous ar­ticles – Trash Talk and Stirrings of Change – Koh Siray is the poorest area of Phuket, home to around 10,000 people, including a village of 1,000 sea gypsies, Myanmar fishing workers and disadvantaged families with very poor housing.

It’s also home to a monumen­tal amount of plastic waste (photo above) that produces high levels of toxins in the water. Floating beneath the residents’ homes, the waste is directly impacting the health of the community, especially that of the children.

On Apr 29, 40 Australian military personnel will join local schools, villag­ers, community groups, the Rassada Council and other volunteers to under­take a clean-up, with a particular focus on plastic waste.

Royal Australian Navy Defence At­taché Capt Chris Smith said, “It will be excellent to see military personnel roll up their sleeves alongside the Koh Siray community. Clean beaches and waterways help build stronger com­munities and Australia is glad to offer assistance to the Koh Siray community through the Indo-Pacific Endeavour deployment.

“This exercise builds on previous Australian Direct Aid investment on Koh Siray including water sanitation, hygiene and wastewater utilisation.

“Many hands make light work, and our servicemen and servicewomen will be more than happy to take on volun­teers at the clean-up in a few weeks.”

Dan About Thailand

The clean-up will be coordinated by Dan Evelsizer, an experienced diver and engineer who has served four years in the US Marine Corp. Based in Phuket, Dan also runs Subs Thailand, a company that sells flip-flops made of plastic sourced from beach clean-ups and recycling.

Dan’s values are in perfect align­ment with the Koh Siray clean-up which aims to not only reduce plastic on the island but to use it to generate in­come; for example, by creating products to sell in local markets.

The clean-up will begin with a wel­come reception led by Rassada Deputy Mayor Pawat Supasuwan and Village Chief Khun Dont. Local schools have been invited to wave Australian and Thai flags and a school band will play the national anthems of both countries.

The kind volunteers will be broken up into groups of 10, spread across the area and tasked with an hour’s clean-up collecting rubbish, particularly plastic. Afterwards, at the sea gypsy kindergarten, each bag of waste will be weighed and the winning group will be declared and awarded a prize.

Military personnel will also present hundreds of pieces of lifesaving equip­ment to the Phuket Lifeguard Club as well as gardening and compost equip­ment to Koh Siray school students for their organic garden. The garden is made up of individual rubber tyres stacked together and filled with soil and compost, into which various local vegetables will grow and be managed by individual members of the school community, with the aim of using this experience to establish an organic gar­den in their own gardens.

Military personnel are also support­ing the establishment of the sea gypsy kindergarten as a sustainable centre which will be a model for environmen­tal practice, quality water provision, health and hygiene and for teaching how to process the waste materials to make products for sale.

The day will finish up with a lunch for all volunteers.

The Asia Pacific Environmental Net­work (APEN) welcomes anyone to join the Koh Siray clean-up on Apr 29. For more information, and to confirm attendance, contact Jane Varley on 083-6343833 or janev63@yahoo.com, or Dr Peter W Harris on 062-6940415 or apenseek@gmail.com

Donations for playground equipment and water systems are also welcome. Contact Sean Scott on 062-0741001 or hello@21two.com, or Dan Evelsizer on 094-9400962 or danevil97@hotmail.com

Keep an eye on the coming issues of The Phuket News as it follows APEN and the Koh Siray journey.

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Kurt | 27 April 2019 - 12:27:45

Talking about underpasses; This week many days was in the northbound lane of Central Festival Underpass a red coloured motor cycle ( broken?) parked. Motor cycles are not allowed to drive through, but parking?
No Phuket officials inspect Underpasses daily and take action to removed the motorcycle? What kind of underpass management is that? 

BigA | 27 April 2019 - 08:11:13

At least the Aussy Navy did not get killed like at the cleanup the did for the English some years ago! they call it now Ansac Day or something like that!  Horst

Kurt | 26 April 2019 - 13:23:57

Be not selective with acid reaction, khun dek. You not mention the ditch outside my place I keep clean. What should actually be done by Phuket government. But they never do. And look at filty underpasses: slippers, caps, plastic bottles, broken glass, water holes blocked by dirt, grass and plants, dirty walls. Phuket is spiraling down when it comes to keep it clean. More navy visits, please.

Christy Sweet | 26 April 2019 - 10:59:04

Stop cleaning up Thai's garbage and force the nation to confront the people's ignorance of the damage THEY cause. 

DeKaaskopp | 25 April 2019 - 21:58:28

"And I make my hands dirty by keeping clean and fresh my place..."Wow,what a great achievement.Keeping ones own place clean.Probably an exhausting task.My fullest respect for that.

Rorri_2 | 25 April 2019 - 05:11:20

"Pascale one wonders why the cereal(sic) is allowed. Emails to the Editor get no reply. I think Mr Cereal(sic) is his savant brother!"
and is that the best you can come up with... no suggestions, no thoughts on  how to deal with rubbish... just a whinger, with nothing to say. At least Mr K has something to add, you, my friend, are just a whinger.

Rorri_2 | 25 April 2019 - 05:04:53

"talking is so much easier.Always the same," hope to see you there, getting your hands dirty. The truth is, it shouldn't take volunteers to clean up this filth, it should be an ongoing exercise by locals AND the authorities.

Kurt | 24 April 2019 - 12:06:16

Who did pollute Koh Siray so much in the first place.?And why did locals/Phuket government not in the first place keep island and surrounding waters clean? I am sure there are budgets for that. Where has that money gone too?  And, I make my hands 'dirty' by keeping clean and fresh my place and surrounding street ditch. Not let it become polluted/blocked and wait for others to clean up.

Fascinated | 24 April 2019 - 09:55:14

Pascale one wonders why the cereal is allowed. Emails to the Editor get no reply. I think Mr Cereal is his savant brother!

Pascale | 23 April 2019 - 22:18:38

There are those people willing to join hands for a clean up and there are those who prefer to sit on their donut cushions,doing nothing except constant whining/complaining.A serial poster on here would never get his own hands dirty for a good cause.Smart?? talking is so much easier.Always the same.

Kurt | 22 April 2019 - 11:32:30

Wonder how a Governor + health Officials who have Koh Siray with their poor people in their portfolio feel that a foreign navy is cleaning up a thai environment mess. What a loose face happening for these thai Officials. Well, that counts too for thai navy, however now excused because they very occupied by the threat of national security of a small simple harmless seastead.

Kurt | 22 April 2019 - 11:19:43

I salute the Australian Navy men and women who going to clean up for 10,000 Koh Siray people,( who seemed never cleaned up their own place) a prolongation of previous aid. Where are the thai governors, the health officials, the thai navy? Why they let it become such a terrible polluted location?  And why is the thai navy not doing what the Australian navy does on a Thai island?


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