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Patong's Mayor Chalermlak goes with the shack demolition team yesterday

Fugitive Phuket Taxi Drivers May Have Fled Island Investigators, Say Police

Sunday, June 8, 2014
PHUKET: Some of the taxi drivers wanted by police and others who fear they might soon be wanted have fled Phuket, investigating officers said yesterday.

With 96 drivers and officials having been arrested over the Kata-Karon phase of the operation and 12 more warrants still outstanding. task force investigating chief Major General Praveen Pongsirin said: ''We will get them all.''

Some of the 12 plus some likely targets from Patong, which is to form the next phase of the operation, are believed to have already left Phuket for other parts of Thailand.

''The homes of all 108 people charged in connection with the Kata-Karon phase of investigations will be checked for signs of unexpected wealth,'' the major general said.

Anti-money laundering and Public Service Anti-Corruption officers are now involved in tracing money through bank books and other documents.

''More potential witnesses are coming forward all the time for the Patong phase of the probe,'' Major General Praveen said. The Patong phase begins after July 15, when all the cases from Kata-Karon are due to be submitted to the Phuket Public Prosecutor.

The monopoly held over Phuket by the island's bullying tuk-tuk and taxi drivers for the entire 21st century was finally broken this week when a task force of 1150 soldiers, police and volunteers began arresting suspects for intimidation and extortion and smashing ramshackle taxi base shacks erected on public land.

The coup in Bangkok on May 22 led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha came at an auspicious time and gave regional police chiefs and local authorities the additional support they needed to act against the thousands of drivers, who number as many as 4000 across Phuket.

General Prayuth's pronouncements against corruption match those of Patong's newly elected mayor, former Democrat MP Chalermlak Kebsub, who went with demolishers to some of the taxi shacks in Patong yesterday.

A total of 22 taxi shacks have tumbled in Patong along with others across the island. Khun Chalermlak told a veteran taxi driver in Kalim, the bay north of Patong, that times have changed for the better.

The driver, who had been operating at the same shack for 17 years on public land, told Mayor Chalermlak: ''The old mayor let us stop here.''

''Everybody has to now aim to follow the law,'' she told him. ''I know some people will feel hurt, but they have to understand.''

A series of arrests has also been made over three street blockades on Phuket that inconvenienced thousands of travellers in April and May, with the suspected ringleaders taken in for questioning.

For those who might have additional information, Major General Praveen's telephone number is 081 8936083.

Comments

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The news just keeps getting better and better

Posted by arthur on June 8, 2014 13:59

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Interesting how the taxi hut outside serenity resort was pulled down but has now re appeared 2 meters back on private land . One of the worst mafia gangs in Rawai

Posted by Tony Kenny on June 8, 2014 15:38

Editor Comment:

The management at Serenity probably needs to decide whether they wish to be part of the old system or part of the new system. Tourists will vote with their feet.

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Maybe Major Praveen should open a complaints desk, and an on line site where everyone, including tourists, can state their complaints.
I wish him all the best in this courageous effort to clean up Phuket.

Posted by Elizabeth on June 8, 2014 16:39

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Good to see action. Waiting for the guys coming to Patong, unfortunately the crooks are warned now. Still the same situation on Rat-U-Tit with the black cabs and theirt notorious touts.

Posted by Resident on June 8, 2014 18:05

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I paid 500 baht from chalong circle to the seashell museum my first day on the island. So happy karma is getting its day now.

Posted by rb on June 9, 2014 00:36


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