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A call to boycott southern tourism
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  1. #1
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    shocked

    Yesterday I was reading an interesting article from The Nation that I'd like to share with you here. Basically, it's about villages along the beach are being eradicated in the Tsunami-affected provinces - all in the name of the almighty tourism dollars. Hopefully this will make people here think what they are about to contribute their money to...

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]<span style='font-size:15pt;line-height:100%'>More than 30 villages could disappear</span>
    Nantiya Tanwisutijit
    The Nation


    As it was on December 26, the sky above the Baan Khao Lak village beachfront on Saturday was clear and fresh. But the atmosphere at the two-month commemoration service for 26 villagers lost in the tsunami was sobering.

    As Buddhist monks chanted, about 100 survivors from 23 families pondered their fate. They&#39;ve been told that their land is no longer theirs. They cannot rebuild their village.

    And that&#39;s now the fate of at least 32 seaside villages within the six tsunami-affected provinces. Local administrations are, says social activist Vichote Kraithep, bowing to pressure from the tourism industry to "clean-up the land and put it to more economic uses."

    For several decades, beachfront villages have been steadily disappearing at the behest of the tourism industry, but the tsunami has created unprecedented activity.
    "It&#39;s just another form of looting, using these unfortunate circumstances as a catalyst to move out some of the last remaining villages," says local social scientist Plueng Kongkaew.

    The fishing community of Baan Khao Lak in Phang Nga&#39;s Tai Muang district is a typical case. Prior to the tsunami the village stood on a white sandy beach, near several of the world-renowned Khao Lak resorts. Its 14 houses on 10-rai of land was the last village left in the area, and was inhibiting the Thavorn Group of Phuket from pursuing the development of a larger parcel it had acquired immediately behind the beachfront.

    Villager Juti Phiewkham, 35, of Baan Khao Lak, was furious to learn that the land on which he was born no longer belongs to his family. Although he and his family successfully outran the giant tsunami wave, they returned to the remains of their home a few days later to find that the poles that once supported their home were replaced by red concrete blocks demarcating Thavorn Group property.
    "They think we are dummies who can&#39;t remember where our home stood?" he said emotionally. "Let them know what I will fight to take keep my land. I know our small villagers can&#39;t match the rich and influential, but they are wrong if they think we&#39;ll give up our land easily."

    But he&#39;s facing an uphill battle. Technically, the land in dispute does not belong to him. His father, who settled on the land four decades ago, did not acquire land rights.
    This lack of legal land title is a common problem. His neighbours at Baan Kaho Lak- along with communities at Baan Thung Daab, Baan Ta Pae Oh, Baan Pak Jok and Baan Koh Ra in the nearby Khura Buri district - are being erased from the map.

    Nearly 200 Muslim families at Baan Nai Rai in Tai Muang district recently found the land they have lived on for generations was registered in somebody else&#39;s name.

    Lam Kaen Tambol Administrative Organization (TAO) does not seem to agree with Juti&#39;s land claim. "The beachfront is public property managed by TAO," declared Somjai Thongsombat, chief administrator of Lam Kaen TAO, who recently instructed her staff to install a sign stating that it was against the law to build or repair building on the site.

    "Now that the [Baan Khao Lak] willage was swept away, we want to keep the area empty so it can be accessible for the public."

    But Juti&#39;s neighbour, who asked not to be named, doubted if the TAO&#39;s position would hold as the Tavorn Group proceeds. "Money bends everything, doesn&#39;t it?" he said.

    A coalition of southern non-government groups working with Andaman Sea fishing communities sees the eviction of these 32 villages as their prime concern. They are encouraging the government to thoroughly investigate beachfront property history, to revoke land rights that may have been obtained illegally and to fully recognise customary rights for settlements of long-time fishing communities.

    "Fishermen have to live by the sea, evicting them is like killing them," said coalition member and artist Pleung Kongkaew. "They are a vital part of our beachfront landscape. No artists want to paint and no tourists want to buy images of concrete buildings and hotels - it&#39;s the raw wooden seaside houses of fishermen they find attractive."
    Well, here you go. Everyone else seem to focus nowadays on the positive effects of tourism in the south. I think that potential tourists should be made aware of what a huge problem their current presence is causing to the local community. The money they spend here is fuelling an aggressive free-for-all land-grab for the rich, effectively killing hundreds if not thousands of poor locals whose profession locks them to the seaside. Throw them out, and they will become like fish on dry land. How could anyone with conscience knowingly support this practice?

    I think that a temporary tourism boycott in the area would send a clear message. Much like the boycott on African "blood diamonds". Buying the diamonds from African rouge states supplies them with cash they use to buy weapons with which they commit horrible genocides to their own people.

    The tourism industry does the same thing with their own people. If you plan to visit the South in the near future, think what your presence and spending would cause to these people

  2. #2
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    Hey,

    Good post and certainly a new outlook on things but I dont agree with boycotting tourism down south either. Doing that may seem good for the damaged provinces but will have negative effect elsewhere.

    Mark

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    TIT boycotting the south would not change anything except hurt other southerners. It is sad to say but the eviction of these villagers is un fait accompli. Thai&#39;s are already contemptuous of foreign intervention, see the response to the human rights report, they sure as #### won&#39;t care about a minor boycott.

  4. #4
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    Boycotting the area will not do any good, not for the ordinary Thai, but boycotting the companies and organizations that are displacing the villagers will.
    You pays your money.......but to who?
    To be happy with where you are, first be happy with who you are.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Thai&#39;s are already contemptuous of foreign intervention, see the response to the human rights report,
    It&#39;s interesting that you mention the USA-report here. Do you think that Thais in general reject the report? Reading the news, I got a different impression. In fact, it seems that Thaksin&#39;s attitude to the criticism is a rather childish one.

    But back on the impact of a possible boycott: I think that the unified action of foreigners has an impact potential larger than you think: Just consider the current state of Thailand&#39;s stock exhange: the record-large (US&#036;942million) trade deficit that prompted foreign investors to dump a net Bt685million (&#33;&#33 worth of Thai stocks has Thais sweating in their pants, lol.

    So, I think that Thais would take heed. Whether is a blanket-boycott of the area, or targetting specifically the organisations and companies responsible for the inhumane land-grab, as Khunlungphudu suggested - both would send a clear message that would not be ignored, IMO.

  6. #6
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    In my humble opinion I think that boycotting the south might also damage small businesses and merchants. I agree with them who said it&#39;s better to boycott those big companies and organizations trying to remove the villagers from their land, I think if they work the land, then the land belongs to them, and tourism should continue in the south, but instead of eating at fancy hotel restaurants, tourist should buy from the locals, that&#39;ll help them, who need it the most. Why they did not claim the land years ago? why wait till the stunami hit? instead of helping them who lost everything, now they want to take the land? The sea might have taken their home, but it did not take their land, now people want to take their land? I&#39;m sad about this >_<;

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    While I agree that your average thai might not dismiss the US report as casually as Thaksin, they did just give him a supreme mandate with his reelection. So i think we need to remember TITT (this is thaksin&#39;s thailand) Not trying to be a pessimist just a realist.

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    The wealthy are immune from any effects of any such boycott. However, the poor will always bear the burden. Many poor Thais live hand-to-mouth on the basis of the tourist dollar. Without those monies, many people would suffer serious hardship. Of course some are willing to allow them to make such a sacrifice to make a point. I am not so willing. The bottom line is, with the influx of foreign capital, the poor displaced fishermen can still earn a living.
    Life is learning. If you stop learning, you might as well be dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]they did just give him a supreme mandate with his reelection.
    True - however, some told me that they chose Thaksin simply because of the lack of viable alternatives. You know how it is: wherever you go, most people prefer the known crook over the bunch of unknown crooks.
    But with that said, it is still quite possible that some Thais choose an ostrich-like attitude to the US-report: stick their head in the sand; if they refuse to acknowledge the problem, then there is no problem, right? :/

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]instead of helping them who lost everything, now they want to take the land? The sea might have taken their home, but it did not take their land, now people want to take their land? I&#39;m sad about this
    Me too, Napo. It&#39;s really disenhearthening to see unscrupulous politicos who would be happy to sell their own mother in order to gain power.

    I also think that the people who lived on this land for countless generations, long before tourism entered the picture, should have the right to carry on with their business (fishing) - more so than the newcomer tourism industry that is helll-bent on displacing them now.

    The &#39;serious hardship&#39; people in the tourism sector would face is nothing compared to the hardship these fishing families are facing now. Losing not only their homes, but their land, and their only source of income.

    How could people with no education, and no skills other than fishing, harness the influx of foreign capital? The 54-year old fisherman cannot just become a waiter; so what can he do? Sell some of his daughers to become Patong prostitues? That seems to be the only way folks with no skills and education can harness &#39;foreign captial&#39; in the Northeast and North.

    Just some things to think about when talking &#39;serious hardships&#39; and &#39;sacrifice&#39;. :/

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]I also think that the people who lived on this land for countless generations, long before tourism entered the picture, should have the right to carry on with their business (fishing) - more so than the newcomer tourism industry that is helll-bent on displacing them now.
    Families in the northeast United States fished for generations too. When the bottom fell out of the industry, they too felt serious economic pressure. Now, many villages that formerly survived on fishing are major tourist destinations. The people in these villages, by American standards, were also not very well educated. Most of them did not have to become "prostitutes" to earn a living. They simply had to look for new ways to earn a living.

    Governments sometimes make decisions that hurt a few with the interests of the many in mind. Just like urban renewal in America in the early 1970s. Many slums were demolished and replaced by condos and new apartment buildings. I am sure many poor people suffered in the name of progress. The point is that now the quality of life is a little better for the majority. Progress does often exact a toll, but the price of resisting progress is much greater.
    Life is learning. If you stop learning, you might as well be dead.

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