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It's the turn of the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers' investigation to pick up passengers

Now For The Bank Books: Phuket's Pian Keesin in Probe by Taxi, Tuk-Tuk Anti-Corruption Investigators

Friday, June 6, 2014
Phuketwan 'Brave Enough to Change' Campaign

PHUKET: A major audit is beginning into the bank accounts and financial affairs of former Patong Mayor Pian Keesin, other Phuket office-bearers and all the arrested taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, a Phuket investigation leader said today.

''We have done some work in Patong but there is a lot more investigating to be done yet,'' said Major General Praveen Pongsirin. ''I can confirm we will be looking closely at Khun Pian, but not at his son Prab at this stage.''

The probe into the taxi and tuk-tuk mobs will shift to their paper trails today as investigators from the Anti-Money Laundering Office and the Office of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission join the pursuit.

Extortion and intimidation extending back years remain at the heart of the alleged crimes.

Major General Praveen, a former deputy commander on Phuket who was reassigned earlier this year to lead the probe into Phuket's taxi and tuk-tuk ''untouchables,'' said the task force had taken on the Kata-Karon gangs first. Patong would be next.

''The difference is that the Kata-Karon ranks are in the hands of many people,'' the major-general added, ''But in Patong, the tuk-tuks and the taxi drivers have just a handful of leaders.

''Witnesses from Patong have been calling me already today,'' said Major General Praveen, whose telephone number is 081 8936083.

As revealed exclusively on Tuesday by Phuketwan in advance of the move against the mobs on Wednesday, 1150 soldiers, police and volunteers have been rounding up scores of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers.

These men, mostly shocked now that they have become the focus of the law, have allegedly been standover outlaws who ruled in the west coast tourist centre of Kata-Karon with officials' help for at least 20 years.

So far, the major general said, there have been 95 arrests, with 13 more still covered by warrants that will be executed at the first opportunity. About 30 were believed to have been granted bail in as special late-night session of the Phuket Provincial Court on Thursday evening.

Four who were bailed earlier at the Phuket City Police Station on health grounds included the Kata-Karon Mayor, Tawee Tongcham. The mayor is said to have approved the taxi drivers at one rank and possibly more using public space and tapping into water and electricity with his permission.

Pian Keesin is reported to have been in touch with Major General Praveen. His son Prab, who is on the committee that oversees the running of Kathu Police Station in Patong and who is seen as a civic leader in the Patong community, denied any guilt via a Facebook posting last night.

The arrival of the recently arrested taxi and tuk-tuk drivers is likely to swell the number of inmates at Phuket Prison beyond the 2807 listed inside on Wednesday, a record number that is believed to have attracted scrutiny and criticism of conditions from the International Red Cross.

A campaign ordering all of Phuket's municipal authorities to demolish the huts used by the tuk-tuk and taxi drivers as bases across the island is expected to continue over the weekend.

Many of the 3000 to 4000 drivers across Phuket who have so far not been affected are waiting to see what happens next.

The crackdown has been driven by complaints by tourists that have been passed on to honorary consuls and embassies over the years. Only with the May 22 coup have police and Phuket authorities finally had the courage and muscular Army backup to act against the so-called taxi and tuk-tuk ''mafia.''

Drivers in Patong especially have been accused down the years of a strong connection with the trade in illegal drugs.

Comments

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Al Capone fell down that way... GOOOOD

Posted by Whistle-Blower on June 6, 2014 13:21

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Great news forensic accounting has got to be the way to go with some of these investigations. Keep up the good work.

Posted by scunner on June 6, 2014 13:31

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I am delighted to see the work being undertaken by the police and the army this week. Today they are tearing down the salas in a Rawai and Nai Harn - fantastic - now Nai Harn beach is rid of their ugly shacks. My fingers are crossed that this initiative will continue, and Thailand will be rid of the corruption. Those countries who've been quick to condemn the Coup, should focus on the good news and positive things that have happened, in such a short time frame, since the coup was announced. It's good news all the way for Thailand.

Posted by Terry on June 6, 2014 15:28

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So much good news, it's almost unbearable! I'm going to have to cancel my membership of the Phuket Grumpy Old Mens Society.

Posted by Smithy on June 6, 2014 19:32

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For Sure very GOOD News for us who are Living here and for all the Tourist who are Visiting Phuket.

Very Good job for all investigation Government Officials Involved

THANK YOU

Posted by MJ on June 6, 2014 19:37

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I also hope they will be able to clean up the Taxi at Phuket International Airport.
I arrived two days ago and was approached by at least 20 people who ask "Taxi, Taxi" "where are you going"

Why not same as in Bangkok where you have to line up in the queue and all Taxis have the same rate.

Why is Phuket Different ! ! !

I hope the Good Officers can solve this too.

I am very Happy when the Army/Government officials arrive here as it has been a mess for so many years.

20 years ago you pay 10Baht Jump on / Jump off a Tuk Tuk in Patong. 20 Baht to Kalim. I hope it will be changed to 20 and 30 Baht. Good for environment and good for the Tourists

I pray that Phuket can be a Good place to Live and for Tourists to Stay.

Posted by MJ on June 6, 2014 20:07

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Yes, this will allow for more public mass transport (such as songtaews between beaches) which will greatly improve TRAFFIC CONGESTION!

Wonderful. Now is the Junta's chance to show world governments, the world, that they can be benevolent dictators! Do it! Go for the land encroaching resorts next!

Posted by J on June 6, 2014 21:23

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Just think what Thailand as a whole could be capable of if corruption and scams were finally laid to rest. Thailand would truly be a great and wonderful nation. If only they could see beyond individual greed.

Posted by Graham on June 6, 2014 21:35

Editor Comment:

Mostly ''they'' can, Graham.


Monday July 6, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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