The Phuket man who bought the wreck of the fateful Phuket tour boat Phoenix at auction earlier this month aims to restore the boat and then sink it at the same location where it fell beneath the waves in July last year, killing 47 Chinese tourists, as a way of making merit.
Preecha Jaiart, who operates the Truck2hand.com website for selling secondhand heavy vehicles, including trucks, buses, vans and boats, conducted several merit-making ceremonies on the boat at Rattanachai Shipyard on the east side of Phuket Town this week.
Mr Preecha bought the salvaged wreck of the Phoenix for B905,000 at an auction held in Phuket on Aug 7.
The boat was finally sold after several attempts by the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo), which has been tasked with disposing of the state-seized asset since police investigators completed their inspections last year into the operations of the former owner for operating illegally.
“Lots of people have asked why I bought the Phoenix,” Mr Preecha said.
“I am a Phuket person and a Thai citizen. I feel deeply saddened as many people lost their lives in the tragic accident,” he added.
“Those who died from the tragic boat sinking were tourists who came to travel to my hometown and unfortunately have to be here forever. I want to try my best to take care of them,” he said.
“Next, I want to restore the Phoenix to be good condition like it used to be, and return it back to the sea where the boat lay on the seabed. If possible, I also want to invite (Deputy Prime Minister) Mr Prawit Wongsuwan to preside over the ceremony to return the boat to the sea,” Mr Preecha explained.
Asked why he would want to restore the boat and then sink it again, Mr Preecha simply replied, “It just feels like the right thing to do.”
Mr Preecha is now encountering a wall of bureaucracy in fulfilling his wish.
“The process to do that is not easy. I am talking with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), the Phuket Provincial Environment Office and the Phuket Marine Office.
“It is proving very difficult and complicated, but I assure you that I won’t break the boat down and sell its parts as other merchants would. My true aim is that I want Chinese people to know that Thai people love them like our close family members,” he said.
Mr Preecha added that he was open to other ideas of what to do with the Phoenix.
“I still need feedback about my idea. Please post your comments on whether you think it is appropriate or not. Or if you have a better idea, please let me know,” he said.
Mr Preecha invited people to post their comments on his Facebook page. (Click here.)