Thousands of concerned locals, expatriates and tourists on the island showed up on the main ring road around Samui from 10am to 12 noon on July 31 in opposition to drilling for oil in the Gulf of Thailand by NuCoastal (Thailand) and other petroleum companies.
Called "Hands around Samui 52km" the protest aims to decry the policies and decisions made by the Ministry of Energy. Opened by Suratthani governor Montree Perchkhum, the protest was deemed very important. "Without it, the concession will become a law by default" the organizers said. Island-wide protest organizer Rak Aao Thai Network Group has been recently formed to oppose any and all government concessions in the Gulf of Siam adjoining Koh Samui, Koh PhaNgan and Koh Tao.
It had also presented a letter to the Prime Minister of Thailand to call for the withdrawal of these concessions that will cause a negative impact to the tourism industry in the region. Chaired by Samui mayor Ramnet Jaikwang, it also asks the government to reconsider other concessions. The letter iterates that, according to section 67 of the Thai Constitution, all companies which received concessions from the national government have to complete all public hearings.
Beside the concessions given to NuCoastal and Salamander Energy to drill for oil 42 kilometers and 65 kilometers off Samui and Koh Tao, Chevron Petroleum (Thailand) and Pearl Oil (Amata) have likewise been granted concession to drill for oil in the Gulf. "The oil drilling project might cause a leak in the Gulf of Thailand. It will surely destroy the island's tourism industry. It will also be a nightmare for the marine environment" said protester Michael Cebe, a Samui resident of two years.
Supporters of the network include the Koh Samui Municipality, Thai Hotel Association (Eastern South Part), Tourism Association of Koh Samui, Suratthani Trade and Commerce Association, Spa Association of Koh Samui, Green Island Foundation, Rak Phangan Club, Rak Koh Tao Club, Suratthani Rajabhat University, Marine Resources, Khanom Shores Preservation Club, Lipa Yai Preservation Group, Lamai Preservation Group, Samui Local Fishery Group, and Samui Mermaid Group.