Hua Hin Today was recently granted direct access to the Lord Mayor of Hua Hin, Khun Nopporn Vuttikul. He agreed to answer some written questions but also to an informal converation at his office. Our thanks to Khun Nopporn for his friendly and welcoming manner.
The first thing we asked is what the Lord Mayor’s friends call him. Khun ‘Nui’ is the Lord Mayor’s nickname. He presents as calm and dedicated; someone who understands and manages the challenges of his role without hidden agendas but always with the interests of residents and visitors of Hua Hin in mind. Official duties are constant and demanding; he is a busy man. When he is tired or disappointed, his approach is to do his best everyday. He wants to learn and grow from each experience. Khun Nopporn’s day commences at six in the morning although the three hours until 9 o’clock are his own time. First of all there is 40 minutes or so of exercise (fitness is important) but then as a self-proclaimed very religious person, Buddhist devotions then take priority. Buddhist meditation is intended to develop mindfulness, concentration, tranquility, and insight. Our impressions of Khun Nopporn may well relate to this daily practice. The end of the working day is typically 9 PM and weekends are not exempt. During our visit, a constant stream of documents, files to be considered and signed was unrelenting, punctuated by phone calls and the unexpected visitor. All managed without fuss but with good humour and attention. As a high profile person around town, personal ‘space’ is limited. Khun Nopporn admits to very occasionally enjoying a ‘getaway’ overseas trip, although representing the interests of Hua Hin is never far away. He is always in contact to deal with matters demanding his attention. Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore were mentioned. A recent trip to Spain may have provided some ‘time out’ however a focus of that trip was to accept an award by the International Association of Golf Tourism Operators’ for the Hua Hin Region being voted as the 2014 Golf Destination of the Year in Asia/ Australasia. This award takes pride of place in his office. As an infrequent golfer Khun Nopporn has a 24 handicap, not an especially low number but as the last game was two months ago, not too bad. Family wise there are two sons and one daughter. We would have expected them to range between about 10 and 14 years old, but in reality aged 24, 21 and 15. He is a youthful person who told his age, though that’s not really for us to reveal! What about life after holding the office of Lord Mayor? The family has two businesses, a 22 room hotel near Khao Takiab and a restaurant. His disclosure about these interests was easy; not a conflict of interest with his Mayoral role, just a plan for the future. However Khun Nopporn has no plans for an early retirement, there are too many challenges ahead. He is planning on something like another 10 years as Lord Mayor before achieving the goals he has set. This was a very enjoyable and relaxed conversation with a public figure who is clearly a great asset to the community. Once again our thanks to Khun Nui (we count him a friend!), not only for his time but also for the slices of orange and the tamarind we enjoyed during our visit!
The Lord Mayor’s Response
To Written Questions: Could you tell us briefly about your educational and professional backgrounds before taking this position? What inspired you to take this job?
I am a native of Hua Hin as I was born here. I went to Hua Hin Witthayalai School for primary and lower secondary education. I then studied at Hua Hin School for upper secondary education. From Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, Ban Jom Bueng Campus I attained a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. I wanted to become Mayor because I’ve been living here for a long time and had seen problems that needed to be solved. I wanted to work and solve those problems in an effective and sustainable way. I believed that those who can solve urban problems should be involved in political affairs. I began my career with the Hua Hin Municipality as the Deputy Mayor. I was elected the Mayor of Hua Hin two years ago and since then I have been finding ways to solve some major problems in the city working with the municipal staff.
In your opinion, what big challenges for the Mayor’s position?
One of the major problems that needed to be solved was traffic congestion on the main roads and insufficient parking spaces. In terms of the parking space, we’re planning to build a new parking lot at the end of this year. This parking lot, which will be completed at the end of next year, will serve the need of many local people and tourists, with a capacity of 308 cars. The parking lot, built with a budget of more than 50 million Baht, will service those who come to Chatchai Market, the Night Market and Hua Hin beaches. We plan to have shuttle bus services from the parking area to different places around the city and this will be very convenient for local people and tourists. Another major challenge for the Mayor is solving water problems. Hua Hin is growing quickly and the demand for water is increasing accordingly. Previously, the process of producing tap water was to mix untreated water was mixed with processed water. This has been the way for a very long time. Since taking the position two years ago, the Hua Hin Municipality had two new water plants built. Both can produce 750 cubic metres of tap water per hour. On 5th September 2014, we commenced building one more water plant. In the future, we will buy a plot of land in Cha-Am and Nayang where a reservoir and a water purifying plant are to be built to send more water to Hua Hin and serve the needs of people here.
Since you became the Mayor, has there been any change?
What do you think is your most successful achievement? Since becoming the Mayor, I have worked with the State Railway of Thailand and asked them to provide an area to build a road in parallel with the railway to solve traffic congestion on Phetchakasem Road. In the past, this was impossible. The State Railway has now given us an area for the new road and the Municipality has already installed traffic lights at three points on the road for the safety of local people and tourists.
What is your plan to make Hua Hin a tourist attraction for more visitors in the future?
We are working on making the city a highclass holiday getaway for families with a safe and environmentally-friendly environment as well as displaying the culture and art of the Region.
Could you describe the progress of making changes to Hua Hin beaches?
We’ve already asked owners of restaurants on the beaches to move out so that there’s more public space on the beach. All restaurants are asked to show customers exact prices and food is now controlled in terms of price and quality. Every Wednesday we have the Hua Hin Big Cleaning Day when everyone joins us to clean the beaches.