Tourism News

Tourism News Phuketwan Tourism News
facebook recommendations


Sign up now for our News Alert emails and the latest breaking news plus new features.

Click to subscribe

Existing subscribers can unsubscribe here


Raining on their parade: the taxi stand sign at Central Festival Phuket

'They Have Guns': Three Words End an Era

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Brave Enough to Change Phuket

PHUKET: At long last, after years of subtle thuggery and not so subtle terror, Phuket's taxi and tuk-tuk fears emerged into the open today.

In response, the message was delivered and it was plain: the game is over. Phuket taxi ''mafia,'' your time is up.

The holiday island has had enough of fear, intimidation and extortion. Phuket's officials, law enforcement officers and businesspeople are starting a new era.

They are learning to stare down the faceless taxi menace. The beginning of the end came today in one conversation.

Here's how the chat went around a table in Starbucks at Central Festival Phuket shopping mall:

Taxi queue founder and village chief Anucha Eakwanit: ''If there are talks, the drivers will need to be involved. All the drivers in the Central Festival queue will have a say in what happens next.''

Phuket Land Transport Department specialist Jaturong Keawkasisaid: ''No they will not. It is time to have some rules set for all of Phuket.''

Khun Anucha: ''But this is a democracy . . . ''

Khun Jaturong: ''Sorry pu yai but that's not acceptable any more. The decisions will no longer be made by the drivers. Central Festival management will photograph and register them all.''

Central Festival Operations Manager, Preecha Ritthiratree: ''I'm concerned about my safety. They have guns. We are concerned about our safety.''

Phuket Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada: ''We will support you. We are going to do this everywhere on Phuket, not just at Central Festival.''

Department of Special Investigation Major Natapol Diisayatham: ''I will be beside you. Do not worry.''

Khun Preecha: ''I worry that you will only be here for the first few days, then you will leave us with a problem.''

Major Natapol: ''You have my word . . .''

MANY ISSUES lie ahead for a Phuket solution but the Starbucks conversation today appeared to be a good start.

Tomorrow a fesh meeting will be held at Phuket's Land Transport Department offices. Included at that round-table meeting will be two surprise new guests, Pom Sukkasem, 42, and his brother, Sern, 52.

Although the two men are now on bail facing extortion and intimidation charges following their arrest at the weekend, Khun Pom remains chief of the Central Festival taxi rank.

It should be an interesting meeting.

Developments this week with the DSI's arrest of the brothers and today's Starbucks conversation have been greeted as a sign of real hope by Phuket's Thai and expat communities.

Larry Cunningham, who at the end of September finishes eight years as the honorary consul for Australia, said today: ''I'm extremely encouraged by these developments.

''There were certainly plenty of people who doubted that the DSI were genuine when they came to Phuket and so quickly issued their list of 11 Phuket suspects.

''After years of calling out for change on Phuket, it seems as though some genuine attempts are being made to fix the enormous problems that have been allowed to fester.

''This is a marvellous start. We can only take a deep breath and hope the good news keeps on coming.''


Comments have been disabled for this article.


There is no taxi mafia in phuket, i prefer to call it monopoly

Posted by danny on September 11, 2013 15:20


What's the point when it's clear that sensible prices are not part of "the vision"?

Just another straw for the gullible to grasp.

Posted by sir burr on September 11, 2013 15:23

Editor Comment:

Cheerleading today for the corrupt are we, sir burr?


Very very good news indeed. Just a point though, these brothers are extremely powerful. Would it not be better to hold them in prison until their court hearing? They will force the cards to suit their own hands. I think it may be better to make change without their participation, where the drivers may feel vunerable to intimidation? That goes for the Central Staff as well. Keep it up DSI AND RTPF.

Posted by Robin on September 11, 2013 15:27


Are you still taking the line that these guys are a monopoly and not a mafia?

Posted by smik on September 11, 2013 15:41

Editor Comment:

We don't ''take lines,'' smik. Your question is irrelevant.


Good morning DSI! The DSI has just discovered that Phuket is run by a network of corrupt, venal people and their thug armies.
Is this their first time to southern Thailand?
Note to DSI: When in southern Thailand it is best to assume that everyone is potentially armed. I have even known a few ladies who pack heat.

Posted by Yojimbo on September 11, 2013 15:53



You are avoiding the question.

Do you still believe that there is no taxi mafia, but only a monopoly, Yes or no?

Posted by smik on September 11, 2013 16:04

Editor Comment:

Irrelevant, smik. Stop wasting my time. Go read some old comment threads.


At least they are talking openly about addressing these issues, this is the first time ever for that to happen, you just never know, things with a lot of luck may change, I hope so, even if it takes time as it will.

Posted by coxo on September 11, 2013 16:09


Sir Burr is correct if there is no decrease in price is there any point in this? Yes if we were in the West taxis would be insured etc but we are not. I only use one taxi and he is honest, reliable even late at night and has a clean and as far as I can see well maintained car with great aircon but sure he charges the Phuket rate therefore I use him only when I really need to. There is an argument that if tax fares were lower they would get more trips and make more money as so many are parked by the road partially because people cannot afford them for trips. Lower prices more time driving rather than parked earning zero Baht.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on September 11, 2013 16:14

Editor Comment:

An obsession with fares shows some expats are as self-interested as the taxi drivers, FF. First the intimidation has to end, then the question of fares can follow. For now, it is only important to those who can't see past their own wallets.


Just a question Ed, but should Khun Anucha not be under arrest as he is the founder of the group or does his position of village chief make him untouchable? At the start I thought the two brothers were the ones behind the central taxi rank but now Khun Anucha has come into the equation?

Posted by phuket madness on September 11, 2013 16:19

Editor Comment:

Khun Anucha founded the Central Festival queues then moved down the road to Big C. He left Khun Pon in charge.


"An obsession with fares shows some expats are as self-interested as the taxi drivers" - Er no, fares effect expats & locals alike....ED who decided your opinion is the correct one, just because YOU believe in something doenst make it so.

Posted by paull on September 11, 2013 16:30

Editor Comment:

For now, paull, why not obsess about ending the intimidation and thuggery? Only when the thuggery ends can fares be lowered. Only then will catching taxis become relevant again for all Phuket residents. Don't give me illogical nonsense. Opinions not based on the facts have no value


Ahhh flip flopping as usual. One article 'things won't happen over night' another article 'end of an era'. I guess this won't be printed and we know why.
As for an obsession over fares I seem to recollect someone has an obsession about Call Centres.

Posted by Mister Ree on September 11, 2013 16:36

Editor Comment:

My only obsession is to stick with the facts and avoid diversions from ill-informed commenters who couldn't draw a correct conclusion at an arts school. You're failing to absorb and comprehend what you read yet again. Don't blame Mee, Mister Ree.


Only illogical to you! Stop being do self righteous ED - 1 question, how do you sell something with no value?

Posted by paull on September 11, 2013 16:42

Editor Comment:

That's one question too many, paull.


Editor Comment:

"Irrelevant, smik. Stop wasting my time. Go read some old comment threads."

It is hardly irrelevant when the Governor recently said it was wrong to use the term mafia and you suppoted that in the face of every one of your readers in the so-called old treads who tried to get you to see a different point of view and more accurate definition. It takes a man to admit when he is wrong.

Posted by smik on September 11, 2013 16:52

Editor Comment:

Oh no, not another person with big balls who thinks you have to be a man to be courageous. Old comment threads, smik. That's where you need to go.


Out to pasture, Ed - that's where you need to go...

Posted by smik on September 11, 2013 17:19

Editor Comment:

You comment is, as usual, irrelevant and of no value.


"Oh no, not another person with big balls who thinks you have to be a man to be courageous. Old comment threads, smik. That's where you need to go".

Oh dear Ed, you have a short memory. The above statement by you is considered was considered "sexist" by your publication.

Posted by sir burr on September 11, 2013 17:33

Editor Comment:

''is considered was''? Sure, sir burr. Whatever you say . . .


Ed, I felt my comment was constructive, can you please leave the bickering to your readers and be an Ed, ok Ed.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on September 11, 2013 17:40

Editor Comment:

''Sir Burr is correct if there is no decrease in price is there any point in this?''

I am surprised that you think the fares are what's important at this stage of a well-reported campaign against corruption on Phuket, FF.

Our articles are wasted on people with wallets and baht signs where hearts and minds should be.


It is a democracy where majority rules. The rest of us here in Phuket DO NOT WANT illegal taxis, so go and let the way things happen in Phuket finally change.

Posted by May on September 11, 2013 18:00


What percentage of tuk tuk & taxi drivers are packing weapons? Guns crow bars knives etc.....
Pretty frightening stuff...... Its same in bali. You have village "rules" and the "law". and alot of young police are from the village..... Who would never confront or disrespect the cheif..... Village polotics tend to be a nightmare.....

Posted by Gunner on September 11, 2013 18:45


A very encouraging article. My feeling is that once the atmosphere of intimidation & corruption stops, in due course, the rules of supply & demand will kick in. The Thais will learn it is better to price fairly, gain a good reputation, & have businesses that prosper. That will apply not just to the taxi group(s) but to all tourist related businesses.

Posted by Logic on September 11, 2013 20:30


So for the benefit of news groups and blogs like Phuketwan there was a meeting held......

We all know that nothing is going to change. Fear is a very strong motivator and the majority of Thais I know want nothing to do with any trouble for themselves or families......

Posted by Ty on September 12, 2013 08:02

Editor Comment:

Live in fear, if that's what you choose, Ty. Know that nothing is going to change, Ty, if that's what you think. Retreat into your corner, curl up into a ball . . . and let the rest of us get on with it.


Thanks Ed but I am not Thai and was not referring to myself. It is the feet on the ground (which I am not one) which will make the difference.

Money is also a fairly large motivator for most people and is not given up without a fight.

I will curl up into a little ball and you can keep your head in the clouds.

Posted by Ty on September 12, 2013 09:21


one drop in the sea ! not only taxi and tuk tuk and ski jet are a problem !!!please !!

Posted by x on September 12, 2013 11:34


The only action I have seen so far in the war on Taxmaf is as follows. I took a meter taxi from Phuket airport to Patong, as I do 6-8 times per year. The fare to my door used to be approx 430 THB. It was 750 THB 10 days ago. 100 THB at the desk and 650 on the meter. RESULT!!!

Posted by geoff on September 12, 2013 11:34


Looks like something went wrong with my post yesterday, so I try again.

Sir Burr, I believe you are correct, with regards to the term "balls." It seems our esteem Ed is a hypocrite. I think the article you refer to was about the US Ambassador and whether she had the "balls" to make a stand, as did the Chinese Ambassador. Seems there are different rules for Ed than there are for the rest of us...that's sad.

Posted by DSI Watch on September 12, 2013 12:45

Editor Comment:

I guess you, like sir burr,are not in tune sufficiently with the English language to understand its ironic usage. And abusing the generosity of the editor with inaccurate and unwarranted insults will get you banned. To repeat your error just makes you a bit thick. Goodbye.

Thursday May 30, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


Facebook Twitter