Sin Polrob, 58, was born and raised in Rawai. He has been a community leader since 1999 and currently serves as the Rawai Kamnan (subdistrict chief).

Here he talks about the importance of communities standing up against projects that threaten to destroy the natural beauty of Thailand.

PHUKET: As a community member and leader, I like to see people come together and stand up for what they believe in.

In a developing world, protecting our communities is one of the most important things we can do. If we, as members of the Phuket community, do not protect it, then who will?

Recently, we all came together to protest the Nai Harn Movie Museum project. However, I do not want people to misunderstand our intentions. The community does not have a problem with Nai Harn being developed, it’s actually nice to see people interested in the area. Nonetheless, there are real issues when these proposed developments threaten to destroy the natural beauty that we love. Not to mention the fact that it is this beauty that draws thousands of tourists to our beaches every year.

We are the ones who planted the trees that were to be chopped down for the project. It takes years for these trees to grow to the size they are now. And not only do they provide us with clean air, we have grown old together with them, sharing many memories with members of our families as we eat and relax in the shade.

It was so nice to see that the people in, and beyond, our community understood how important these trees are. I urge people in other communities to also stand united and protect the areas that they live in. When speaking with a single voice, a community has much more impact than when only a handful of people try to make a difference.

Nai Harn is one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia and I support the local government in developing the area, but they must listen to the community. We are not just doing this for ourselves, but for everyone who enjoys the natural beauty at Nai Harn.

A lot of people travel here from overly developed countries just to get back into nature. We should do everything in our power to keep such precious nature alive in our homes, so we too aren’t forced to travel to be surrounded by such beauty.

We can use the power of our community to protect what we have, so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the beautiful nature that we have today.

Business owners must think about the consequences of their actions when developing real estate, as well as listen to the community’s concerns before moving ahead with any plan.

A local community will always know the area better than anyone else. They also have the most time and energy invested in it. So, only by working together can we move Phuket forward.

— Chutharat Plerin