PHUKET: A long-time expat from Phuket has started a simple initiative that could lay the groundwork for an expat association that could serve as an advisory or at least consultative body for local government officials seeking to avoid backlash implementing bad policies – and even helping those responsible for positive change for the island.

Phuket will need a positive injection of ideas to help it out of the crisis caused by the pandemic. Photo: PR Phuket

Hari Bedi kicked off the initiative yesterday with a Facebook post titled “Preparing for the Post-Pandemic Era”.

“As Phuket emerges from the current pandemic-induced inertia, enormous momentum is needed to prepare for the future. The belief that nothing ever happens and everything is a waste of time should be abandoned and an opportunity should be taken to emphasize that expats are an integral part of Phuket life and are ready and willing to help build a better place for everyone. us and visitors,” Hari wrote.

“An outpouring of ideas and an unprecedented level of people’s participation are needed as an antidote to the inaction and gloom of the pandemic era. With that in mind, here are ten ideas.

Please reply to this message as soon as possible by choosing five ideas that you like the most, noting their numbers. You can also list your own suggestions separately,” he added.

Hari’s 10 ideas were:

  1. Form an expatriate association that will own and operate a cooperative store for imported goods and a maintenance services cooperative (handyman).
  2. Modernize and expand the immigration office
  3. Build a multi-storey car park in Phuket Town
  4. Remove the 90 day notification to immigration
  5. Completely reform the work permit system
  6. Enable expats to work as musicians, artists, teachers, writers and authors
  7. Build a history/culture museum
  8. Build two parks, one to the south and one to the north.
  9. Build a theater for the performing arts.
  10. Build a modern art gallery

The responses have already been overwhelmingly positive.

Wolfgang Meusburger, also a longtime expat in Phuket, asked the following:

  1. Affordable public transport / a mix of short term solutions eg samlor buses / lorries / commuting AC electric buses / long term tram plan.
  2. Create a single authority managing all beaches/ cleaning/ business licensing/ construction of toilet/shower facilities/ zoning for sports swimming/ awards/
  3. New waste management / punish all polluters revoke business licenses for offenders / capital expenditure [capital expenditure] for waste water management in all drums/
  4. Calendar of annual events a combination of high profile music / ASEAN Thai arts / street food / pride / bike week

Saimohan Pahwa noted, “I think if the Thai government allowed people seeking residence permits to work, it would change the whole equation…”

Eddie Sawiris recommended: “1 Form an expatriate association. 2 delete the 90 day record. 3 build a historic/cultural centre. 4 build two botanical parks. 5 modernize/expand the immigration office.

Grenville Fordham, a well-known longtime expatriate, accepted a combination of suggestions, as follows:

Agree with Harry

  1. Form an association of expatriates, to be accepted by the local government as an advisory/advisory body (do not operate business ventures in competition with local contractors or traders)
  2. Build a multi-storey car park in Phuket Town
  3. Remove the 90 day notification to immigration
  4. Build a Theater for the Performing Arts

Agree with Wolfgang

  1. Affordable public transport, etc.
  2. Create a single authority managing all beaches, etc.
  3. New waste management, etc.

Adding his own suggestions, Grenville added:

Of me

  1. Introduce a longer-term visa and work permit (2, 3 or 5 years) for expatriates with, say, 10 years of uninterrupted “mandate”.
  2. Long-term solution for perennial water scarcity – capital expenditure must be used wisely.

Not all responses targeted general areas that have long been known to need obvious improvement.

As an observer, Vitaliy Tsoy noted, “Regarding your suggestions, it is very difficult for me to recommend anything, as I live in Hua Hin. In terms of visa regulations, this is the prerogative of the legislator. The laws of any country, above all, must protect the interests of the local people, and we are guests, and if we do not like any law, it is better that we choose another country to live. This is my subjective opinion, I hope I didn’t offend anyone with my words.

The call for ideas followed Hari’s post on Saturday titled “The time has come”.

“It is time for Phuket to recognize the contribution of expatriates to make it one of the best holiday destinations in the world. Over the past twenty years, this small island has transformed from a sleepy little place into a well-developed cosmopolitan resort. Of course, its natural setting, beautiful beaches and friendly locals have always been its greatest asset. But it is Patong’s high standard of hotels, wide variety of restaurants, wonderful marinas and entertainment venues that have helped make it a magnet for tourists,” he wrote.

“In all this development, the role of expatriates has been crucial. But little was said or done in public recognition. On the contrary, their image is freely confused by a disgruntled person like the one who once mentioned on Facebook that since he paid his taxes and spent all his earnings here, Phuket should be grateful to him. The image is also sometimes tainted by an unfortunate experience with the bureaucracy of an individual among the large retirement community. This is a very small minority and there is overwhelming evidence on the positive side to counter it. But unfortunately, no sustained effort has been made,” he added.

“The various business organizations whose members are of different nationalities make occasional statements about them, but overall little is done to publicize their positive contribution to Phuket’s economy. Perhaps this reluctance stems from the fact that the expat community hasn’t felt very welcome over the years. Now is the time to show them some appreciation, whether they are entrepreneurs or retirees, by making their lives a little easier by relaxing cumbersome rules and regulations.

“There is no reason why the process of obtaining a work permit for employees should be so difficult. Why not let retirees work and contribute their lifelong experience in some much-needed areas? Above all, removing the 90-day immigration notification requirement could send a real positive signal by changing the image of restrictive treatment into one of a happy, trusting and positive relationship with Thai society. “, he concluded.

Hari is a former resident of Phuket. He was among the first two or three to build a house in Laguna, which helped start the residential trend in the resort.

He also believes that the expatriate community makes an extremely valuable contribution to the development of Phuket as a cosmopolitan and globally recognized resort. “They can be very helpful in suggesting ideas for future development as they bring experience from all corners of the world,” he said. Phuket News.

“That’s why I wrote this post on Facebook to collect their ideas,” he added.

“I have spent the last 50 years of my life in three places – Singapore, Hong Kong and Phuket – and I have seen them develop in their own way. Singapore has become a garden city, Hong Kong has become a concrete jungle and Phuket is still at a crossroads to decide which direction it would like to go,” Hari pointed out.

“Judging from some of the suggestions, it seems like a lot of people would like Phuket to offer at least one cultural experience in addition to the current leisure and entertainment options. This is why they suggested the development of a museum, an art gallery and a theatre.

“They would also like to see some of the cumbersome requirements changed or removed, such as the 90-day declaration to immigration and the severe restriction on how they can use their time here more productively. Right now, a retired person here can’t even publish a book on innocuous topics like “Travel and Social Etiquette”.

“These offenses greatly damage the image of Phuket, otherwise recognized as a beautiful, fun, happy and free place to live or visit,” adds Hari.

All suggestions for Hari’s call for ideas can be posted on Hari’s Facebook page ‒ click here.