Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Mayor Pian Keesin has publicly declared his stand on the need for Patong to become a Special Administrative Zone (click here).

His call for the administrative change received a great deal of support at a public meeting held recently to present and explain the concept to local residents and business people.

The meeting was coordinated through Patong Municipality and the Bangkok-based Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI), an independent public organization under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

The hearing also followed Government Spokesman Prompong Nopparit's public announcement of his support for the change during a recent visit to Phuket.

"For the long term, Patong should apply to be a special administrative area for tourism, just like Pattaya. That will make it easier to manage all the local problems without going through the Ministry of Interior," Mr Prompong told the press.

At the meeting, held at the Phuket Gracelands Resort & Spa, Mayor Pian fired the first salvo, strongly advocating that Phuket’s leading resort town have more self-governing authority.

"Patong should have the ability to fully manage itself, to manage the money that it collects and how that money is spent on development and people," Mayor Pian told the conference.

"I am not happy with the way Patong is currently administered. We have 16,000 people registered as living in Patong, but we have more than 100,000 people living here," he added.

Mayor Pian explained that under the current rules for allocation of government funding, budgets are allocated to cater to the number of people registered as living in an area, rather than the actual number of people living in an area.

"It’s not fair. We generate so much money for the economy, but we get so little budget funding from the central government because of the way the budgets are allocated.

"If we were a special administrative zone like Bangkok and Pattaya, we would collect enough money to develop ourselves [without having to ask Bangkok for funding]," he said.

"Patong, and Phuket, generate a lot of money for the country. I understand that the central government has to take care of other provinces, but the government seems to forget that Phuket is facing many problems with development.

"If things continue as they are, Phuket will become like Pattaya 20 years ago," he warned.

A recent press release quoting statistics from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) claimed that Phuket contributes 137 billion baht to Thailand’s tourism industry revenue, accounting for around 30% of the total tourism income in Thailand.

Tourism is the critical business in Patong, and Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA) President Weerawit Kurasombat echoed Mayor Pian’s comments.

"Patong has grown so fast. The current form of administration cannot manage Patong’s development problems.

"Patong contributes so much money to the economy and pays so much tax to the central government, but gets so little money back to develop the city.

"If Patong became a special administrative zone, we could collect our own tax and use it to develop the city," he said.

Phuket Chamber of Commerce representative Jalan Sungsarn, however, cautioned that making Patong a special administrative zone alone was not enough to ensure good management of the town.

"We need to make sure we have good, honest, trustworthy, reliable people in charge to make sure the right decisions are made and to get things done. Otherwise making Patong a special administration zone will make no difference at all," he said.

Patong people will be taking up that challenge later this year, when they go to the polls to elect a new Patong Mayor and Municipal Council. A date has yet to be set for the Patong election, but under election law Mayor Pian will not be allowed to enter, as he is currently completing his second consecutive term.

Dr Jatupong Kaewsai, Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) at Kathu District Office, also posed the question whether a change in the form of administration would solve Patong’s problems.

"Patong has developed very quickly, with so many problems. There should be more focus on Patong developmental problems.

"We should ask ourselves why the current form of administration is not working and what would the benefits be of Patong becoming a special administrative zone. Would this solve all of Patong’s problems? I don’t think so. A special administrative zone is not the way to solve all the problems." he said.

Rachin Thongmakkul of the Patong Hotel Association disagreed. He called for more self-regulation, arguing it would be more responsive to Patong’s needs.

"We fully agree with Patong becoming a special administrative zone. It would go a long way toward helping to resolve all the negative aspects that affects tourists who come here.

"For example, Patong should have a genuine Tourist Service Center. Also, we could set up a one-stop shop for all government services instead of business operators having to go to 10 different offices to get all the paperwork they need," he said.

Suthep Chaovalit, director of the Human Resource Development and Management Institute in Bangkok, voiced his support for the change, adding that now was the right time to push for it.

"The time is right, right now. The government supports the change and the AEC 2015 [Asean Economic Community] is approaching.

"Thailand is aiming to lead the Asean nations as the tourism and aviation hubs for the region. This will help us achieve that goal," Mr Suthep said.

Local residents at the meeting to whom the Gazette spoke, all voiced their support.

They will have the chance to express their opinions and to propose what they want at the next public meeting on Patong becoming a special administrative zone. That meeting will be held expressly to gather public feedback, explained Mayor Pian.

A date and venue had yet to be set for that meeting.

Additional reporting by Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai
– Warisa Temram

1

Fantastic! More power for this administration and less control on its accounts. Can't anybody see what Patong has turned into in the last 15 years? Just a squalid place – dust and cement, insecure, dirty, stink... the list goes on and on. Is the central government really willing to bail out now? And if so, for what reason?

Posted by Augusto March 21, 2012 03:46:28PM

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2

More power = more corruption. What is required is enforcement of laws and external control.

Posted by Bjarne March 21, 2012 03:51:37PM

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3

It is the whole of Phuket that should get special status – i.e. autonomous like Langkawi. But then successive powers in Bangkok had always been weary of Phuket's ambitions – all the way back to its first French governors in the 16th century.

Posted by Kamala resident March 21, 2012 04:34:01PM

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4

"If things continue as they are, Phuket will become like Pattaya 20 years ago," he warned. 20 years ago, and to this day, there is a public transportation system in Pattaya. Why are there no meter taxis in Phuket with fares equivalent to Bangkok, or a baht bus system in Phuket? Why does a 1 km tuk-tuk ride cost more than a room for the night?

Posted by Lee March 21, 2012 04:41:37PM

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5

"If things continue as they are, Phuket will become like Pattaya 20 years ago," he warned. 20 years ago, and to this day, there is a public transportation system in Pattaya. Why are there no meter taxis in Phuket with fares equivalent to Bangkok, or a baht bus system in Phuket? Why does a 1 km tuk-tuk ride cost more than a room for the night?

Posted by Lee

Yeah, yeah, man, why ain't we got no baht bus? Nothing like a ride on a nice baht bus to round out one's holiday in Thailand. Wish Phuket would get one; I'd ride it every day because it's so CHEAP! Anyway, I'm sure that if Patong were to become autonomous the tin-can tuk-tuks would disappear in short order and them baht buses would be rolling in. Can't wait!

Posted by Art Anderson March 21, 2012 05:29:33PM

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7

"If things continue as they are, Phuket will become like Pattaya 20 years ago," he warned. 20 years ago, and to this day, there is a public transportation system in Pattaya. Why are there no meter taxis in Phuket with fares equivalent to Bangkok, or a baht bus system in Phuket? Why does a 1 km tuk-tuk ride cost more than a room for the night?

Posted by Lee

Yeah, yeah, man, why ain't we got no baht bus? Nothing like a ride on a nice baht bus to round out one's holiday in Thailand. Wish Phuket would get one; I'd ride it every day because it's so CHEAP! Anyway, I'm sure that if Patong were to become autonomous the tin-can tuk-tuks would disappear in short order and them baht buses would be rolling in. Can't wait!

Posted by Art Anderson

Yes Art, so much better for tourists to pay 500 Baht to go the length of Patong Beach OR pay 20 Baht for a Baht bus, yes, it is a truck, difference between a truck and a tuk-tuk?

The real point is the meter taxi, I can get one in Pattaya or Bangkok, you cannot in Phuket, why is that? How many meter taxis did the PM and the Cabinet see, I would assume about 0, how many do you see on a daily basis?

Posted by Lee March 21, 2012 05:40:55PM

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8

Patong contributes so much money to the economy and pays so much tax to the central government, but gets so little money back to develop the city.

Posted by Zig March 21, 2012 05:51:09PM

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8

"If things continue as they are, Phuket will become like Pattaya 20 years ago," he warned. 20 years ago, and to this day, there is a public transportation system in Pattaya. Why are there no meter taxis in Phuket with fares equivalent to Bangkok, or a baht bus system in Phuket? Why does a 1 km tuk-tuk ride cost more than a room for the night?

Posted by Lee

Yeah, yeah, man, why ain't we got no baht bus? Nothing like a ride on a nice baht bus to round out one's holiday in Thailand. Wish Phuket would get one; I'd ride it every day because it's so CHEAP! Anyway, I'm sure that if Patong were to become autonomous the tin-can tuk-tuks would disappear in short order and them baht buses would be rolling in. Can't wait!

Posted by Art Anderson

Yeah, yeah, man, nothing like taking a "taxi" ride from the airport to your hotel for the price of the flight from Bangkok to Phuket, wow, that makes sense (the meter taxis from Phuket Airport charge a flat rate, no meter!).

I am surprised people are still coming here for a holiday, I tell all of my friends to go elsewhere and give Phuket a big miss!

Posted by Lee March 21, 2012 06:23:43PM

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9

More power = more corruption. What is required is enforcement of laws and external control.

Posted by Bjarne

Yes, very, very good comment! I agree with you Bjarne 100%!

Only "external control" would solve these problems! "Mayor Pian Keesin has publicly declared his stand on the need for Patong to become a Special Administrative Zone."

Do you know why? Think a little bit about this.

Posted by Butterfly March 21, 2012 06:29:31PM

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10

Who gets to be President of Patong?

Posted by soupdragon March 21, 2012 06:36:29PM

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11

The Mayer is right that there are far more people in Patong than there is registered. But to give more power to the influential locals here would be madness.

Posted by Sherlock March 21, 2012 08:31:56PM

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12

Patong needs a strict law abiding authority who can create effective deterrents without fear of repercussions, before it is fit to control its own finance.

Posted by Stan March 21, 2012 08:36:01PM

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13

"If things continue as they are, Phuket will become like Pattaya 20 years ago," he warned. 20 years ago, and to this day, there is a public transportation system in Pattaya. Why are there no meter taxis in Phuket with fares equivalent to Bangkok, or a baht bus system in Phuket? Why does a 1 km tuk-tuk ride cost more than a room for the night?

Posted by Lee

Yeah, yeah, man, why ain't we got no baht bus? Nothing like a ride on a nice baht bus to round out one's holiday in Thailand. Wish Phuket would get one; I'd ride it every day because it's so CHEAP! Anyway, I'm sure that if Patong were to become autonomous the tin-can tuk-tuks would disappear in short order and them baht buses would be rolling in. Can't wait!

Posted by Art Anderson

Yes Art, so much better for tourists to pay 500 Baht to go the length of Patong Beach OR pay 20 Baht for a Baht bus, yes, it is a truck, difference between a truck and a tuk-tuk?

The real point is the meter taxi, I can get one in Pattaya or Bangkok, you cannot in Phuket, why is that? How many meter taxis did the PM and the Cabinet see, I would assume about 0, how many do you see on a daily basis?

Posted by Lee

Why are meter taxis only available at the airport, but not in Patong or elsewhere?

For Patong, you should ask Patong Major Pian Keesin or the President of the Taxi Federation of Patong, Preechavude Keesin.

More power would only strengthen the present situations in Patong, wouldn't it?

Posted by Nobaht March 21, 2012 08:41:51PM

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14

Anybody who can clear the Island of tuk-tuks and jet-skis gets my vote ( so to speak)

Posted by Shaun Taylor March 21, 2012 09:04:54PM

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15

"Patong should have the ability to fully manage itself, to manage the money that it collects and how that money is spent on development and people," Mayor Pian told the conference.

I wonder which people. Maybe it could be spent on the Taxi Federation of Patong to expand the tuk-tuk fleet. Or to get some real taxis there – you know, the ones with meters.

Posted by Chas March 21, 2012 10:13:00PM

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16

"A recent press release quoting statistics from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) claimed that Phuket contributes 137 billion baht to Thailand’s tourism industry revenue, accounting for around 30% of the total tourism income in Thailand."

TAT has absolutely no way of knowing how much revenue tourists spend – at best it is a wild guess.

Posted by larry March 22, 2012 06:45:42AM

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17

Is it a joke? Today I was charged at an Esso gas station 260 baht for 4 litres, which is usually 140 baht at a Shell station. What did it mean? Special zone already, I guess!

Posted by Alexey March 22, 2012 08:38:28PM

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18

Who gets to be President of Patong?

Posted by soupdragon

Good one, if you are going to feather the nest might as well be your own.

Posted by roger March 23, 2012 07:58:15AM

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18

Who gets to be President of Patong?

Posted by soupdragon

Good one, if you are going to feather the nest might as well be your own.

Posted by roger March 23, 2012 07:58:15AM

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17

Is it a joke? Today I was charged at an Esso gas station 260 baht for 4 litres, which is usually 140 baht at a Shell station. What did it mean? Special zone already, I guess!

Posted by Alexey March 22, 2012 08:38:28PM

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16

"A recent press release quoting statistics from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) claimed that Phuket contributes 137 billion baht to Thailand’s tourism industry revenue, accounting for around 30% of the total tourism income in Thailand."

TAT has absolutely no way of knowing how much revenue tourists spend – at best it is a wild guess.

Posted by larry March 22, 2012 06:45:42AM

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15

"Patong should have the ability to fully manage itself, to manage the money that it collects and how that money is spent on development and people," Mayor Pian told the conference.

I wonder which people. Maybe it could be spent on the Taxi Federation of Patong to expand the tuk-tuk fleet. Or to get some real taxis there – you know, the ones with meters.

Posted by Chas March 21, 2012 10:13:00PM

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14

Anybody who can clear the Island of tuk-tuks and jet-skis gets my vote ( so to speak)

Posted by Shaun Taylor March 21, 2012 09:04:54PM

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13

"If things continue as they are, Phuket will become like Pattaya 20 years ago," he warned. 20 years ago, and to this day, there is a public transportation system in Pattaya. Why are there no meter taxis in Phuket with fares equivalent to Bangkok, or a baht bus system in Phuket? Why does a 1 km tuk-tuk ride cost more than a room for the night?

Posted by Lee

Yeah, yeah, man, why ain't we got no baht bus? Nothing like a ride on a nice baht bus to round out one's holiday in Thailand. Wish Phuket would get one; I'd ride it every day because it's so CHEAP! Anyway, I'm sure that if Patong were to become autonomous the tin-can tuk-tuks would disappear in short order and them baht buses would be rolling in. Can't wait!

Posted by Art Anderson

Yes Art, so much better for tourists to pay 500 Baht to go the length of Patong Beach OR pay 20 Baht for a Baht bus, yes, it is a truck, difference between a truck and a tuk-tuk?

The real point is the meter taxi, I can get one in Pattaya or Bangkok, you cannot in Phuket, why is that? How many meter taxis did the PM and the Cabinet see, I would assume about 0, how many do you see on a daily basis?

Posted by Lee

Why are meter taxis only available at the airport, but not in Patong or elsewhere?

For Patong, you should ask Patong Major Pian Keesin or the President of the Taxi Federation of Patong, Preechavude Keesin.

More power would only strengthen the present situations in Patong, wouldn't it?

Posted by Nobaht March 21, 2012 08:41:51PM

Reply

0    0

12

Patong needs a strict law abiding authority who can create effective deterrents without fear of repercussions, before it is fit to control its own finance.

Posted by Stan March 21, 2012 08:36:01PM

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0    0

11

The Mayer is right that there are far more people in Patong than there is registered. But to give more power to the influential locals here would be madness.

Posted by Sherlock March 21, 2012 08:31:56PM

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0    0

10

Who gets to be President of Patong?

Posted by soupdragon March 21, 2012 06:36:29PM

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0    0

9

More power = more corruption. What is required is enforcement of laws and external control.

Posted by Bjarne

Yes, very, very good comment! I agree with you Bjarne 100%!

Only "external control" would solve these problems! "Mayor Pian Keesin has publicly declared his stand on the need for Patong to become a Special Administrative Zone."

Do you know why? Think a little bit about this.

Posted by Butterfly March 21, 2012 06:29:31PM

Reply

0    0

8

"If things continue as they are, Phuket will become like Pattaya 20 years ago," he warned. 20 years ago, and to this day, there is a public transportation system in Pattaya. Why are there no meter taxis in Phuket with fares equivalent to Bangkok, or a baht bus system in Phuket? Why does a 1 km tuk-tuk ride cost more than a room for the night?

Posted by Lee

Yeah, yeah, man, why ain't we got no baht bus? Nothing like a ride on a nice baht bus to round out one's holiday in Thailand. Wish Phuket would get one; I'd ride it every day because it's so CHEAP! Anyway, I'm sure that if Patong were to become autonomous the tin-can tuk-tuks would disappear in short order and them baht buses would be rolling in. Can't wait!

Posted by Art Anderson

Yeah, yeah, man, nothing like taking a "taxi" ride from the airport to your hotel for the price of the flight from Bangkok to Phuket, wow, that makes sense (the meter taxis from Phuket Airport charge a flat rate, no meter!).

I am surprised people are still coming here for a holiday, I tell all of my friends to go elsewhere and give Phuket a big miss!

Posted by Lee March 21, 2012 06:23:43PM

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0    0

8

Patong contributes so much money to the economy and pays so much tax to the central government, but gets so little money back to develop the city.

Posted by Zig March 21, 2012 05:51:09PM

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0    0

7

"If things continue as they are, Phuket will become like Pattaya 20 years ago," he warned. 20 years ago, and to this day, there is a public transportation system in Pattaya. Why are there no meter taxis in Phuket with fares equivalent to Bangkok, or a baht bus system in Phuket? Why does a 1 km tuk-tuk ride cost more than a room for the night?

Posted by Lee

Yeah, yeah, man, why ain't we got no baht bus? Nothing like a ride on a nice baht bus to round out one's holiday in Thailand. Wish Phuket would get one; I'd ride it every day because it's so CHEAP! Anyway, I'm sure that if Patong were to become autonomous the tin-can tuk-tuks would disappear in short order and them baht buses would be rolling in. Can't wait!

Posted by Art Anderson

Yes Art, so much better for tourists to pay 500 Baht to go the length of Patong Beach OR pay 20 Baht for a Baht bus, yes, it is a truck, difference between a truck and a tuk-tuk?

The real point is the meter taxi, I can get one in Pattaya or Bangkok, you cannot in Phuket, why is that? How many meter taxis did the PM and the Cabinet see, I would assume about 0, how many do you see on a daily basis?

Posted by Lee March 21, 2012 05:40:55PM

Reply

0    0

5

"If things continue as they are, Phuket will become like Pattaya 20 years ago," he warned. 20 years ago, and to this day, there is a public transportation system in Pattaya. Why are there no meter taxis in Phuket with fares equivalent to Bangkok, or a baht bus system in Phuket? Why does a 1 km tuk-tuk ride cost more than a room for the night?

Posted by Lee

Yeah, yeah, man, why ain't we got no baht bus? Nothing like a ride on a nice baht bus to round out one's holiday in Thailand. Wish Phuket would get one; I'd ride it every day because it's so CHEAP! Anyway, I'm sure that if Patong were to become autonomous the tin-can tuk-tuks would disappear in short order and them baht buses would be rolling in. Can't wait!

Posted by Art Anderson March 21, 2012 05:29:33PM

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0    0

4

"If things continue as they are, Phuket will become like Pattaya 20 years ago," he warned. 20 years ago, and to this day, there is a public transportation system in Pattaya. Why are there no meter taxis in Phuket with fares equivalent to Bangkok, or a baht bus system in Phuket? Why does a 1 km tuk-tuk ride cost more than a room for the night?

Posted by Lee March 21, 2012 04:41:37PM

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0    0

3

It is the whole of Phuket that should get special status – i.e. autonomous like Langkawi. But then successive powers in Bangkok had always been weary of Phuket's ambitions – all the way back to its first French governors in the 16th century.

Posted by Kamala resident March 21, 2012 04:34:01PM

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0    0

2

More power = more corruption. What is required is enforcement of laws and external control.

Posted by Bjarne March 21, 2012 03:51:37PM

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1

Fantastic! More power for this administration and less control on its accounts. Can't anybody see what Patong has turned into in the last 15 years? Just a squalid place – dust and cement, insecure, dirty, stink... the list goes on and on. Is the central government really willing to bail out now? And if so, for what reason?

Posted by Augusto March 21, 2012 03:46:28PM

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