Mr Itthiphol went cap in hand to see Mr Abhisit on Tuesday morning and asked him to reschedule the summit in Pattaya as soon as possible. Such a move could restore Pattaya’s image as a safe tourist destination, despite the red-shirt protests which caused the cancellation of the 14th Asean Summit at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort Hotel.
After his meeting Mr Itthiphol informed reporters that Mr Abhisit told him it was not possible to resume the summits anywhere at the moment because of the political situation. The Pattaya mayor said he also informed the prime minister that the management of the Royal Cliff plans to sue the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, which instigated the red-shirt protests, for 10 million baht in damages because of the cancellation of the regional meeting.
However Mr. Abhisit later attended a cabinet meeting and afterwards announced that the government had tentatively chosen Phuket as the prospective venue to host the rescheduled meetings in June. But he must first confer with participant countries to assure that all are in agreement with the preparations and have confidence in the security arrangements.
Phuket is a major competitor to Pattaya in the tourist stakes, and is also a political stronghold of the ruling Democrat Party.
The exact date of the summit could not be fixed yet as several leaders had so far not confirmed they would be attending. Also some countries may have funding problems and would not be able to send delegates at such short notice.
This will be Thailand’s third attempt to host the Asian leaders’ meeting. The first, in Chiang Mai, was cancelled before it occurred because of the political turmoil. The Pattaya meetings collapsed after most leaders had already arrived.
It is hoped that the next attempt will be more successful and help restore the country’s image.