Why Samui and Not Phuket for Special Administrative Status?
News out of the nation's capitol has the island of Koh Samui and Mae Sot in Tak Province as lead contenders for upgrades to Special Administration Zones. Currently in Thailand only Bangkok and Pattaya fall under this sector. One of the key benefits of falling into this category is the ability to elect senior local Government officials rather then appointments that are routinely rotated throughout the various provinces of the country.
While the issue of Phuket becoming a Special Administrative Zone has been a topic of discussion for a number of years, it's unclear why this has not moved forward. The Government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has continued to focus on a decentralized form of administration with 35% of its budget being put back into local offices and municipalities.
For many leading business leaders on the island who acknowledge the importance of tourism and now certainly a new focus on environmental concerns having long term locally elected players at the helm of the province may provide for greater consistency of long term planning and policy. Certainly there remain many pros and cons to the two sides of the argument but for now Phuket has for some reason been surpassed in priority with Thailand's other key resort island destination Koh Samui.