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Pom Sukkasam  at today's meeting: taxi  drivers gave him their backing

Arrested Phuket Taxi Leader Wins Drivers' Vote To Keep His Role

Thursday, September 12, 2013
PHUKET: A meeting of Central Festival Phuket taxi drivers voted today to endorse arrested queue leader Pom Sukkasam to continue in the role.

Khun Pom, arrested on the weekend and taken to Bangkok, retained the confidence of most of the 179 drivers from the Phuket City shopping mall when they met at the Phuket Land Transport Department office.

He blamed his arrest and the arrest of his brother Sern on a disruptive driver who had the support of perhaps four other members of the group.

''When the officers said we were going to be driven to Bangkok in a pickup, I hired a minivan and we all went to Bangkok in that,'' he told reporters after the meeting.

Earlier, the Department of Special Investigation's Major Natapol Diisayatham told the gathering that complaints had been made by 16 embassies about taxi drivers in Thailand, especially about those on Phuket.

Only 43 of the drivers at Central Festival rank had registered and there was no excuse for not being legal, he added.

Central Festival Operations Manager Preecha Ritthiratree told the drivers that there had been complaints from shoppers about taxis being of low quality, with poor service to match.

''We would really like you all to be in the best possible kinds of vehicles,'' he said. ''Our standards are high and we expect the same standards from Central Festival taxi drivers.''

Although Central Festival were hoping to have all of the vehicles registered by the end of November, the drivers were given until the end of February to make their vehicles legitimate.

A total of 107 of the 179 drivers have registered or begun the process of registration.

Khun Pom, who has been in charge of the rank for nine years, told the gathering it would take about three months to get everything done.

He said later that he was due to reappear in Bangkok on intimidation and extortion charges - which he denies - on October 28.

Comments

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Hi, I have a friend who is a taxi driver and has what is a clean Toyota with great aircon and drives very well I have been in it many times and it is up to Western standards. He told me that he could not keep his name on the side as he could not transfer the car's finance to become legal. I had read there was financial changes going underway and although I am not supporting the taxi/tuktuk drivers in general if they cannot switch finance due to the Ownership book kept in different location then how can they be legal. You can't get money if the person does not have it right. So perhaps more should be done to make it easier for the finance to be arranged.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on September 12, 2013 16:23

Editor Comment:

Phuket does not need the numbers of taxis it now has, and you want to encourage more poorly skilled people to charge extortionate fares? You are generous with our money.

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Of course he has the backing of the taxi drivers, as they are on a cushy number with little consideration for the tourists they service. Central have stuck their neck out and DSI and the Transport chief has said they will back them if there are any problems. What are Central to do now all the taxi drivers back their alleged criminal boss?

He should never have been at that meeting. DSI/ the Transport chief should be setting the rules... not entering any form of negotiation/ discussion.

There seems to be little thought for the end user... only the taxi drivers.

I suspect this opportunity is now missed and DSI will move on to a different taxi problem elsewhere on the Island... anywhere they can hang their hat for a PR gain.

Real shame.

Posted by Duncan on September 12, 2013 17:13

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[quote]
When the officers said we were going to be driven to Bangkok in a pickup, I hired a minivan and we all went to Bangkok in that
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The police/DSI are wrong-footed from the start! You do not let an arrested person decide what type of vehicle they wish to use for transport to the police station! By allowing this guy not only to select but also pay for the transport, the authorities could be seen as already having accepted a bribe from this man.

Posted by Simon Luttrell on September 12, 2013 17:36

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And there we go, all back to normal!!!!

Posted by phuket madness on September 12, 2013 17:57

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Here we go again, one step forward and two backward, if he is in jail as charged how can he run the taxis? Charges dropped and back out....Thailand seems to be going backwards very rapidly compared to its neighbors, time will tell.

Posted by coxo on September 12, 2013 19:58

Editor Comment:

It's called bail, coxo.

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And when out on bail Ed all activities by the charged related to the charges must cease. He should be out of the picture.

Posted by coxo on September 13, 2013 07:02

Editor Comment:

I agree. It was my understanding that Central Festival was going to manage the rank. They need to be in control.

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Any arrangement that allows a self-appointed gang an exclusive right to exploit taxi users at a particular location will ensure that extortion (of drivers wanting to join the exclusive club) and intimidation (of outside drivers, including tour vans and those asked to wait for passengers they have brought in) will continue.
It is ridiculous to expect Central to deal with this group as they have no contract or power over them, even to request their identity.

The police and Land Transport Dept should never have abdicated their legal responsibility to enforce the law. A senior policeman was once quoted saying "they know where my children go to school." If the mafia can even intimidate senior police, how can Central staff be expected to stand up to them.

The permanent encampments outside resorts and malls which are the territorial mafia bases must be dismantled. No-one should be recognised as owning the exclusive right to any group of passengers especially in an environment where there is no control over fares or any other aspect of safety or service.

Posted by Jason on September 13, 2013 10:43


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