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Paradise Unplugged in Phuket
July 26, 2000
Picture yourself at sunset, drink in hand, admiring the view from your balcony as the casuarina trees sway in the Andaman breeze. In the other room that serves as your home office, your computer hums away as it processes the deals you've concluded at the end of another satisfying business day.
Yes, you're a citizen of Phuket CyberCity, a 40-billion-baht online community, with a lifestyle to die for.
Then you wake up.
Islander T.B. was not in the mood for reveries after reading the account in this newspaper yesterday about Phuket's @mbitions.
"My electricity has just been turned back on, after a 12-hour interruption of service, rumoured to have been island-wide," he wrote.
"I've been waiting for a second telephone line for a year-and-a-half, and I'm told another year-and-a-half should be about the time a new line is available. The existing phone line I have is of such poor quality that I can rarely connect to my ISP for more than five minutes without losing the connection. Downloading files from the Internet? Forget it."And so he dreams, as many Phuket denizens do, of reliable electricity and telephone service while the bureaucrats talk up another election-year mega-project.
The power part is being worked on-yesterday's outage was linked to the need to switch over to a new, beefed-up transmission line. And the Provincial Electricity Authority has more projects on the go. Within three years, if all goes well, there will be enough heavy-duty lines and relay stations to keep your Compaq humming 24 hours a day.
Phuket Governor Charnchai Soontharamut acknowledges the current shortcomings, but he's firm in his resolve to see the CyberCity vision come to pass. "I think the best and most accurate name would be Cyber Paradise," he adds.
And since deadlines have a way of concentrating the mind, officials are determined to deliver the dream by 2003. That's because Phuket has ambitions to host the summit that year of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation group.
"The last thing the island needs is a blackout in the middle of a speech by the President of the US or the Prime Minister of Japan, in front of hundreds of members of the world's press," the Phuket Gazette observed drolly.
-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), July 26, 2000