In order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which was first established in Bangkok, Thailand back in August 1967, when it’s founding fathers namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand first signed the Bangkok Declaration which subsequently became known as the ASEAN declaration have decided to hold the next ASEAN International Fleet Review in Pattaya, Thailand.
Thus in recognition of this auspicious date, it’s somewhat fitting that ASEAN should celebrate it’s 50th Anniversary in the very country in which ASEAN was first founded. As such the Royal Thai Navy has been designated to host the ASEAN International Fleet Review 2017 in Pattaya between the 13th and 22nd of November 2017. Festivities are to be centered around Pattaya Bay and the Prime Minister of Thailand, Mr. Prayut Chan-o-cha will personally reside over and review more than 40 naval vessels from participating ASEAN member countries on Saturday the 18th of November, 2017.
The authorities have decided to upgrade both Bali Hai Pier and it’s immediate surroundings in preparation for this upcoming event and as such Major General Popanan Lueng-panuwat who is the head of the National Council for Peace & Order Banglamung District, first held a meeting on June 07, 2017 with the representatives of some 26 plus potentially affected companies where he announced that effective from mid June, 2017 the first phase of construction is expected to begin. The first areas to be closed are the parking lot, drop off area and main pavilion. Officials plan to announce alternative locations for parking and passenger pickups and the General has acknowledged that the construction work will have an adverse impact on both traffic and the above-mentioned 26 plus companies, who in the interim have been directed to conduct their operations from 3 locations opposite the A-One Royal Cruise Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Royal Garden Plaza Shopping Center alongside Pattaya Beach.
The General went on to say that the relocations will be temporary and that full access to the pier is expected to be restored once the 1st phase of the Bali Hai upgrade has been completed, however he omitted to disclose a date as to when this phase of operations is scheduled to be completed. In the interim and in order to mitigate the ensuing chaos of the Bali Hai Pier closure, the Marine Department has been directed to come up with alternative site proposals for passenger ferry traffic. This announcement must seem somewhat ironic to many speed boat operators, who only recently were directed to cease operations from the beach in favor of operating from the pier. Dive shop operators are most likely going to be the most vocal opponents of this temporary closure, seeing as their large boats have a deep draft, and as such cannot reach the shore in a similar fashion to that of speedboats plus they must ferry large amounts of air tanks and other heavy equipment to and from these boats on a daily basis.
However in my opinion, the temporary chaos that will ensue as a result of the temporary closure of Bali Hai Pier will be well worth it as I’m sure that the ASEAN International Fleet Review will put Pattaya at the center of the world map for at least 2 weeks in November, 2017.