Pattaya Daily News

11 April 2008 :: 11:04:25 am 28715

Surat The Voice of Maturity and Experience Promises Coherentsocial Progress and Greater International Recognition for Pattaya

Surat who comes from a family long established in Pattaya, founders of Mike Shopping Mall, brings the experience honed from long being active in Pattaya politics. His domestic policies include improving the people's life chances, child welfare and recreation. As regards the tourists, he intends to introduce weekend trips, give them more exposure to Thai culture and generally improve the international face of the city.
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If you were chosen to be the next Pattaya City mayor, you would have 4 years in office. With so many things to attend to, such as the job routine of the local government officials, old projects to continue, new projects to be presented, and the image of Pattaya to be improved and marketed internationally; what is your overall plan   

Actually, Pattaya already has very good team of government officials who are already working hard; all they need is a good set of guidelines and a leader with vision. We have to take care of the citizens; anything we do or plan to do must focus on the benefit of the people who live in Pattaya.  

I will start with routine activities, you can see each month, we have the same activities, year in year out; I want to change that a little bit. We should add more Thai cultural activities to show the tourists. They should not only be visiting us just for fun, relaxing, beaches etc., they should also see the real Thai culture, as well. Let’s say every Friday we could have processions or caravans of culture, ways of life, marching on festivals, like Thai weddings, monks’ ceremonies etc. I used to present “52 Thai traditional events in Pattaya”, but as we know, I never had a chance to run the city.

Don’t you think it will be too much and that Pattaya won’t be able to do it as well as other parts of Thailand that tend to more experienced in such things, like Chiang Mai and Sukhothai, for instance. And some tourists only stay for a few nights.  

I plan to arrange weekend tourist trips to Pattaya, like they have in many other tourist destinations, such as Hong Kong, which has fireworks every evening at 6 pm that makes people come out of their hotels to the shopping centres, for instance.  

What about following the routine jobs of the government officers   

The government officials are not the only people who work in City Hall, they also include the police, district officers, Land Department officials, and environmental officials, all of whom lack support. I’ll give you an example, say the police found a boy walking along the beach, homeless. After questioning, the boy must be sent back to his hometown, right there and then, but the police can’t do that because there is no supportive organization, no provision for expenses.  

    

Okay, what would happen to the boy then    

By law, the boy must be sent back immediately, but if the boy were found at night, the police can’t send him then, he must have some place to stay over night, a place to sleep, food, clothes etc. But we are talking about just one boy!! We have more than 10 boys every night walking around the beach. If we send them back home by bus, and they run away, we would have to assume responsibility; otherwise, the parents would sue the police officers. A police captain

Arresting the children who are working as child prostitutes and then sending them back home isn’t the way to solve the problem, is it
  

This is a big problem, and it is essentially a national problem, not only Pattaya’s. Now, let’s talk about local administrations like Pattaya, I think if we provide enough activities for the children, they will never want to become prostitutes, beggars, thieves, or bag-snatchers. We must have plenty of activities for them: good schools, playgrounds, parks, sports fields and swimming pools etc. Now we don’t even have a government high school. Instead of building schools or hospitals, we have big shopping malls and Internet games rooms and we also have a bad attitude towards living our lives. We let the children see how to make fast money  “working with that guy, you will have money. Follow his example and you will have more money”. This time, our Democratic Party won 9 seats in Chonburi. This is a sign that we can do something good for a change. 
has a Bt12,000 salary, how can he possibly help the boys  

Do you mean it will be easier to improve our society   

Not really, because we are not the government team, yet; but at least we can announce to them that we have a strong political group.  

    

You were talking about building swimming pools for the children. How do you plan to implement that policy
I will build 54 small swimming pools because we have 27 communities in total and each one has to have two playgrounds and two swimming pools. The children don’t need very big or very deep swimming pools, and they shouldn’t be far from where they live. They should be able to walk to their swimming pools and playgrounds within about 5-10 minutes. One 80 cm-deep swimming pool will only cost Bt400,000 for the children.  

I don’t think those Bt400,000 swimming pools will last very long, will they? Since they are very cheap, they might only last for the 4 years of your term as mayor.
No! I think you are used to the present high cost of our governmental purchasing policy. I have built swimming pools for my customers. They have everything that a pool should have. My pools don’t use chorine. They are bio- swimming pools, good for your health, no chemicals.  

Swimming pool facilities will keep the kids away from drugs too, won’t they? A lot of people living in Pattaya don’t think of this as their town. They only come here to earn money. Do you have any plans to motivate the non-native people in Pattaya to legally register themselves, so as keep everything more under control

To answer the first question, I think Thai people love whatever place they stay in. As for me, I wasn’t born in Pattaya, but I volunteer to work for the general benefit because I love Pattaya and I love to help. I love to see everyone who lives or visits Pattaya happy and to have a good life. To answer the second question “Can we get everyone to register their names here in Pattaya” Yes, easily! But it has to be a governmental directive. All they have to do is to make a rule, saying if you want to have free medical care where you live, you must register your names legally. You can fix the problem in one day.  

Why doesn’t the government implement that policy   

The answer is to educate the people, then they are more able to help themselves –
“It’ s better to teach a man to fish than to make him dependent on you by giving him fish, then he will never help himself.”  

  

Or maybe it is cheaper to buy votes from a 100,000 rather than a million people   

Quite right! (laughing). I, personally, never thought about becoming a politician. I only want to do good things for society as much and as often as I can.  

Last time you stood for the election, you only lost by 2000 votes, do you think this time will be more difficult for you   

Yes, it will be more difficult, but since I don’t expect anything back for myself personally, if I don’t win, it won’t hurt me, but I will be very sorry that I missed the chance to help. To prove that Pattaya can be a much better city if we run it properly. I have tried hard for the last 30 years. If you volunteer to be city mayor, you are saying “vote for me, choose me, I will do this, or that for you. I think it’s nonsense. The people must have a vision. This time will be a lot tougher for me, the competition has done so many things to stop me, to block me. And we also have more candidates, who happen to have similar ideas to mine, (smiling). I don’t know why So now the legal votes will be spread more among different candidates.  

Let’s talk about the traffic problem. Do you plan to build a tunnel on Sukhumvit Road from Naklua to Sattahip   

The main problem is we that share Sukhumvit Road with drivers who travel to Rayong and the Eastern provinces, which creates traffic jams. We can only solve the problem in two ways: build a flyover or a tunnel. A flyover makes the environment look bad and will be bad for the business people who have their shops along the road where the flyover is. The value of the land in the area automatically falls.  

A tunnel is only 20% more expensive to build than a flyover. Let’s say it will cost Bt200 million to build a flyover and 240 million to build a tunnel. During the construction period, a tunnel can be built underneath without disrupting traffic. And also to build a flyover, we will have to destroy more of the environment. We’ll need more sand, more earth, more rock and we have to put them in place along the road, all year long. You can see how much we’ll lose during the construction period.  

  

What about the electricity cables that you said you will put underground? How long will it take to clean up the whole city? And will it be more difficult to fix if there is any problem. You can see what a tough time we all have when we have frequent power cuts.  

Actually, to put the cables underground is only so as to make the city look neat and tidy, giving you more room to grow nice plants. In fact, this is not something new. It was planned by the present administration. They have been attempting to do so for the past four years, but haven’t been successful. The Pattaya Beach Road has had this project planned since 2004, but instead of putting the electricity cables underground, there are more electricity pylons in some areas.  

    

Why can’t they finish the project   

They can’t because of two reasons: firstly, they use a construction company that won the contract through their political connections; plus the fact that the company doesn’t have suitable equipment, inadequate technology. They use tiny drills to dig underground, just a bit bigger than those used for pipes. They have tried to burrow under the ground instead of digging up the road. Secondly, they have no collaboration with the Electricity Department.  

Are they working separately” Do they have a separate budget” Why can’t they work together” Since they are both working under the same local government, for the same country”  

Even if they do have a separate budget, Pattaya City can handle the whole organization itself by offering to include the Electricity Department within the city’s budget. The Electricity Department doesn’t have to apply for a separate budget. They will be really happy just to have someone control the budget for them. They only have to collaborate and then it will only take 6 months to finish the whole project, instead of three years; digging, concealing the cables along Beach Road, as we have seen, really disrupting the economy of Pattaya City.  

Sounds very sensible and logical, but what about the practicalities? Will the government officials co-operate with you if you do that

Of course they will. Let’s take the Electricity Department, they will be very happy, because they don’t have to go begging the government for a budget. Don’t forget, Pattaya City is a special administrative city, and the Electricity Department is also in a special situation. They are acting like a company. They buy electricity from the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand; (EGAT) and sell it to the users. So as long as they can sell their product – electric power – and they make money, they don’t mind if the cables run above or underground. In this case, they would be even happier to have someone upgrade their product, they still can run their business.  

Regarding this point, we would like to know about the electricity pipe project that is due to run to Koh Larn (Coral Island) which is supposedly due in 2011, will it actually be put into operation   

That’s another four years. Do you know whose idea it was originally? It was my idea. I mentioned it and funnily enough they picked the idea up and promoted it but they haven’t even started it yet. Anyway, the question is, why didn’t they do it 20 years ago? I have two further questions to ask them: do they have the vision to run Pattaya? Do they have their own thoughts or any experience? Do they have their own ideas? If they really do, I don’t have to try to apply for the position of Pattaya city mayor.  

Besides that, you must have moral principle too.
Well, (laughing) I am the head of management for Chaimongkol Temple and also the president of the Council of Cultural Affairs for Banglamung District and the vice president of Sawang Boriboon Rescue Foundation. In fact, anything that is related to society, I have done for long time.
  

So, I don’t think the rumour about you not being a native Pattaya citizen will matter that much, do you
I have been living here for over 30 years. Maybe, if you count my days in Pattaya, it might be longer than someone who calls themselves a Pattaya person, who stays on and off.
  

Back to the electric problems again, why do we have so many power cuts or why do the cables collapse all the time? Can you just explain simply for my readers

I can’t really give you the answer to that, but I can assure you that in a big city like this, they should never allow the electricity to be unavailable more than 7 times a year. They must be committed and responsible, as we are when we announce publicly that the rescue team will arrive at accidents within 7 minutes. If we have a responsible administrator, we should never have so many electric problems. It’s not only you who has problems, think about a shopping mall like us at Mike Shopping Mall, one power cut costs us between Bt70,000-80,000 each time, to restart all the equipment and any electric machinery. That means we have to sell another Bt4-5 hundred thousand worth of goods just to cover that power cut. 
Don’t they have their own generator  
Yes, but it’s only for light not for heavy equipment, and somehow it has to be started up again, anyway. 
Let’s talk about the crime news in Pattaya, which is shown on the front pages of the local newspapers everyday What is your opinion  

 

You cannot ignore or cover up the news. You can’t stop the media reporting the truth. All we have to do is try to solve the problem and stop crime occurring. Let’s take robberies, bag-snatching etc that happen nearly every night. We will install CCTVs on every soi, not just use them as street furniture. We have to use them efficiently. There are only 122 sois in Pattaya. If you want to protect people walking along the Pattaya Beach Road and the Second Road, we will have one man standing on each soi and we will have three shifts, so we’ll need 360 men and it will cost Bt34 million for their salary for the whole year. With the CCTV and the men, I think we will reduce a lot of the robberies and bag-snatchers on the two roads easily.  
    
Very interesting idea! Not much of a budget involved. Why has nobody ever thought about that before   
(laughing again,) I wonder about that, too. I have been involved with so many different activities, societies, business associations and even national politics. So I can assure our people that I’m sufficiently qualified to be the city mayor. We don’t have to spend a lot of money to pay for the advisors. Why do we need researchers We spend huge amount of money to pay for the researchers, but we are not a university or a lab. We all know what the problems are, but nobody wants to take them seriously. And it has not been my time yet.  
The 360 men who will stand around the sois, how will you find the good ones Are you talking about the volunteer police There are so many rumours and many crime cases that are involved with the volunteer police. What do you think  

The volunteer police project was originally mine, but it has been twisted. They changed a lot of conditions. Finally, it didn’t turn out the way I planned. They gave a lot of police work or duties to the volunteers, which was not right. They term that kind of job “placed under the care of” so you can see that in so many instances where the volunteer policemen got shot and died or got injured because the job was “placed under the care” of the police jobs. There are good people and bad people everywhere, in every organization. We have to be more careful and pay more attention to each job.  

What are the qualifications of the volunteer police ?  

They should be aged over 30, must be local, with their local neighbours giving some form of guarantee about their behaviour and history. Nowadays, the volunteer police work harder than the real police. That’s why we hear about them much more often than the real police because they are the ones that really do the work. So, if we have this project to run the 360 watchmen, these men will be the real volunteers. With proper job descriptions and getting paid for doing their job, they will be punished if they miss their duties or create problems in their area. We can have proper regulations for them to follow.  

What about the international or foreign criminals in Pattaya. How do you plan to handle this ?
We have to admit that Pattaya is a hideaway for criminals, but we can screen them out easily if we have a good system of visa regulations. Actually, these individuals are mafia from overseas. They are dangerous to their own people, not to the locals. They take advantage of their own people. The annoying thing for me is why can foreigners carry guns in Pattaya? Why can’t I? Why do the local politicians let these foreigners have so many privileges? If we don’t think of the benefit for ourselves, it will be easy to raise the safety standards to make Pattaya a better and safer city to live in.  

Sounds very difficult, I think. How long do you think you will need to improve the security of the city? Is one year is enough to see progress   

Not at all, if you follow the law. The same as now, if you don’t abide by the traffic regulations, the police must arrest you as soon as they see you committing an offence and you have to be fined. To check these criminals is easy. Just check their visa histories and study each individual case; but the difficult part is that the visa records in the databases are not linked to each other. Let’s take visitors to Pattaya, for example, they can apply for their visas anywhere they want. They live in Pattaya, but they might apply for their visas in Bangkok, or on the Cambodia borders, which is the problem. 

                       

Can the Pattaya city mayor control the police or can he ask for their co-operation in any action, at anytime
No, the city mayor can’t authorize them personally, or ask for authorization as such from the police, but we can facilitate them if they ask for help in any individual case, or we can specify the co-operation that we require in special cases. 
What is your opinion about the rumours of a casino operation in Pattaya ?
I have never liked the idea at all. Casinos are a nightmare for me. It makes me anxious every four years. Every time we have a new government, they bring this issue to the discussion table. Why do they think we need a casino?

 Do you want to see your people become gambler?
I have never seen any gamblers that are good people. Gamblers cause problems and cost a lot of money to heal society’s wounds. Let’s say, if your wife becomes a gambler, she will be in the casino all the time. Who will take the kids to school, who will take care of the family, the house etc? She will lose all the money, the property and the eventually the family. Gambling normally brings crime and crimes cause a lot of damage.The government may think a casino will bring more tourists, but I don’t agree. Casinos should be the last thing we use as a tourist attraction. Pattaya still has a lot to offer the tourists if we present the attractions to them properly. We have beaches, mountains, temples, culture, food, a good climate and people. If you look at all the casino towns in the world, none of them are successful, except perhaps Las Vegas. They have to promote the casino because it is the last thing that they have to present in terms of attracting the tourists. They offer you free food, drinks, transportation and free places to stay; just to attract the gamblers. How can the locals make a living out of that? They can’t sell anything. Everyone gets involved in the gambling industry. 
 Khun Surat, Please tell us about your team. You seem to be very confident about them.  
By law, the city is allowed to hire four deputy mayors, but we can also hire 2 or 3, up to 4, no problem. But the problem is to find someone who can actually work for the benefit of the city and the people. It’s quite a decision. I’m lucky, I have a former administrative assistant (deputy chief), Mr.Setapol Boonsawas, who is an expert in the educational field, who will be able to take charge of all the routine governmental administrative sections. The second person is Khun Panya Kahkai, who was born in Pattaya and is a successful businessman and who has a lot of connections with business people in Pattaya. Khun Panya will handle the quality control of all the projects and any public services to meet the requirements of Pattaya’s citizens. The third person is Dr. Pasin, who is a specialist in health care services, who concentrates on the quality of life. He will take care of the people and make sure everyone will be taken care of properly, both physically and mentally. The last position, which is very important, is the marketing person who will have to bring Pattaya before the proper market. We have to use a head-hunting company to look for the right person. So far Pattaya City has used old-fashioned marketing techniques. We have to depend on the travel agencies to bring us the tourists. If I have a chance to work, I will clean up the city, change its image as a symbol of prostitution, tighten up on the crime cases, clean up our beaches etc. That’s why we need a professional marketing person who can elevate Pattaya into being one of the world’s top international resorts. We have to convince the tourists from around the world that Pattaya is “A must-visit destination resort”. I would like to ask people to be patient; I can’t really tell who the person might be right now. 
 

 

        นพ.พศิน  (หมออู๊ด)

   

       So you want to keep him as a Mr. Surprise  

Actually, I know many marketing professionals and I’m sure they will join me if I ask. However, they can’t resign from their jobs right now, not until I am voted in as the city mayor.

 

  

 

 

We’ve had a really great conversation today. Pattaya Daily News really appreciates the time you’ve spent with us and we wish you the best for the election coming up in May. Thank you.  

First of all, I would like to say that I am really impressed with PDN as an organization. I prefer to regard PDN as a public relations medium for Pattaya rather than merely as reporters. We really need more media with good qualities, dedicated to providing a public service and to be neutral.  

Personally, I’d like to thank all the people, my friends, who always support my team and me. Please remember my number is no. 3 and my city members’ representatives are nos.14-19. Please study the candidates’ policies hard before you decide to choose anyone. You have to vote for the right person, the person with experience and vision, who knows the problems facing the city and who is able to solve those problems. We have to make a stand and present a strong group to restore Pattaya to Pattaya people again. 

 
 
 

         

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Politics News

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