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Major General Ong-Art Phiwruangnont: fines not enough persuasion

Jail Phuket's Worst Taxi Drivers, Says Police Commander

Friday, November 1, 2013
PHUKET: Taxi drivers on Phuket who break the law ''need to be jailed'' to send the message that intimidation will not be tolerated, Phuket's Police Commander, Major General Ong-Art Phiwruangnont, said today.

He said that fines of 1000 baht or 2000 baht usually were not enough to deter bad drivers from changing their attitudes.

The commander, speaking at a meeting with French honorary consul Claude de Crissey, added that he would ''welcome 100 more'' international volunteers to work with Phuket's police.

Mr de Crissey met Major General Ong-Art at Phuket Police Headquarters to let him know that a French Festival is to be held at Jungceylon on November 28 and that the French ambassador will be attending.

He added that he was grateful to have the commander trying to resolve Phuket's taxi problem.

''The fares are not expensive for European visitors,'' Mr de Crissey said. ''It's the way passengers are often poorly treated and the disparity in fares.''

Mr de Crissey said it was important to standardise fares and to introduce meters if possible to end the unfairness of one person paying perhaps 200 baht* for a trip while another person is charged 250 baht.

''I need police on Phuket who are brave enough to solve the problem,'' the commander said. ''For a long time, Phuket's problems have been allowed to grow.

''I need a bit longer than my first month to make changes for the better.''

He said he would welcome up to 100 more international volunteers to work with Phuket police and more officers with language skills.

The number of volunteers continues to grow. Wal Brown, the Phuket Coordinator for Region 8 Volunteers, welcomes inquiries at 084 4471978.

*An earlier version of this article carried the amounts as 2000 baht and 2500 baht. The error was made by the reporter.

Comments

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Quote "He said that fines of 1000 baht or 2000 baht usually were not enough to deter bad drivers from changing their attitudes." I am not so sure this is was he meant ;-)

Posted by Sailor on November 1, 2013 14:37

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If they want volunteer expats then they should give them something for their time & efforts. My understanding is they get nothing. Even some preferential deal on visas would be better than nothing.

Posted by Logic on November 1, 2013 15:05

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I have often thought about being a volunteer for the Police but then many people only said you will mainly be dealing with drunks and spat and punched. In addition to being paid nothing I think you have to pay for your own uniform and boots, like Logic says at least help with a Visa would be a positive sign. I have also never seen a foreigner driving a Tourist Police car, surely that is who they are for, or am I mistaken and they do drive. Power of arrest should also be allowed. I actually think that foreigners should be allowed to be full Police but only in tourist areas like Phuket, Samui etc if they meet the criteria.

Posted by Same, same but different on November 1, 2013 15:23

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One issue they need to do is make sure the volunteers ALL have work permits, this is something many do not have, therefore the volunteers are working illegally and the police themselves, by employing them, are also breaking the law.

Posted by Laurie Howells on November 1, 2013 15:38

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''The fares are not expensive for European visitors,'' Mr de Crissey said.

By making such statements Mr Crissey becomes a part of the problem. Price comparisons to other countries, or worse, justifying them by the origin of the customer are inherently wrong.

A taxi ride on Phuket, even with a meter running, is 2x more expensive than in BKK. A tuk-tuk costs Bt 20 in central Had Yai - here they will not even move for less than Bt 200!

The only country the prices have to be compared with is Thailand.

A taxi ride on Phuket costing Bt 2500 ?

Does Mr Crissey realize that is equivalent of a 8 day Thai minimum salary ?

To be put in Euro terms with respect to French minimum salary of EUR 9.43 / hr that equals EUR 603 !

Does that still sound reasonable to you Mr Crissey ? Since you think it's ok to charge a 8 day salary equivalent for a taxi ride on Phuket, surely it must be ok in France too, huh ?

Thanks but I'm better off without your "help".

Tourist Police and Immigration Volunteer programs are taking advantage of foreigners. They put in full working days, get no benefits and are paid nothing.

A friend of mine sacrificed several years of his time until he realized he was just being taken advantage of and quit.

Thailand - either pay for the work foreigners do or do the job yourself.

Posted by ThaiMike on November 1, 2013 16:32

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"Mr de Crissey said.....to end the unfairness of one person paying perhaps 2000 baht for a trip while another person is charged 2500".

Is he kidding? I can FLY to Bangkok for that!

"The fares are not expensive for European visitors"

This man has obviously just arrived from Brussels! The fares are DAMNED expensive by Thai standards.

Posted by jimbo on November 1, 2013 16:39

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I agree with your sentiment, but he has been here a long time. Oh, and get your geography in order: "This man has obviously just arrived from Brussels!", he is the French honorary consul.

Posted by stevenl on November 1, 2013 17:03

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@ Laurie Howells - a work permit in Thailand is specific for place- and type of work.

None of the volunteers has a work permit to do police work, which is not needed, because they work for the Thai Government. That is what we were told, when I was a volunteer.

After some years I left the force, as many others, for the reasons mentioned in earlier comments.

Posted by Sherlock on November 1, 2013 17:37

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I have to agree with others here, what in the name of sensibility is this Frenchman saying? Condoning a taxifare of 2000 THB are words of insanity. To take a quality car from HuaHin to BKK (last time I did it was in a Volvo, no meter) is less than 2000 THB, and this is 2.5hrs drive. One can take a car from Suv airport to Pattaya central for 1500 THB, again 2hrs driving. There are not many places on the whole island which are more than an hour apart. Je pense que vous avez besoin de penser avant ouvrir le bouche Monsieur.

Posted by geoff on November 1, 2013 17:47

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"'I need police on Phuket who are brave enough to solve the problem,' the commander said."

Brave enough? I think he meant "incorruptible".

On second thoughts, maybe he was right - they'd have to be brave enough to deal with all their corrupt colleagues.

Posted by Buster on November 1, 2013 18:02

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''The fares are not expensive for European visitors,'

I have just booked at taxi to pick me up Manchester Airport UK, next week and transport me 80km to my destination, GBP 35..1750 baht.

Posted by Stuart on November 1, 2013 18:09

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I an so pleased that the economic situation is not affecting the French. I could not contemplate paying a 2000THB fare.

Posted by Lorraine on November 1, 2013 18:43

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The honourary consul is well placed to understand the problems of the "typical" visitor to Phuket. He owns a sizeable mid level hotel in Patong and his guests have encountered problems. He is married to a local. As an investor in several other Phuket business ventures, he has a vested interest to try and get things cleaned up. Rather than dismiss his comments, I suggest the critics take into consideration that he is one of the honourary consuls that knows what is going on, has a good understanding of local behaviour and an intimate knowledge of the negative impact that corruption has on Phuket. He's spot on about taxi fares. The issue is the inability of visitors to access set taxi fares. The reality is that 800 baht for a ride that can sometimes take 1 hour to get from the airport to Patong is still a fraction of the cost of a similar ride in Europe. The continued references to Bangkok fares is spurious. The costs of operating in Phuket are significantly higher than in Bangkok. The police commander has a valid point with suggesting the worst offenders spend some time in jail. The honourary consuls as a group support such action and have suggested it in the past.

Posted by Ryan on November 1, 2013 20:21

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@stuart ... just recently had a taxi booked from Man Airport to Blackpool, also around 80 km, in the cheapest salon car, and that came to 75 GBP one way....what's your secret ?

Posted by Sailor on November 1, 2013 22:10

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Sailor
My secret,easy, find a taxi company that has at taxi dropping off at the airport with no return fare back. You can negotiate half price.

Posted by Stuart on November 2, 2013 07:46

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@Sherlock, I think Laurie Howells is right, I have a copy of the Alien Work Act, 2008. As for Government workers not needing a work permit, well last time I checked the Dept. of Education was government, foreign teachers require work permits. The act clearly states that a Royal decree is required to remove any occupation from the need to have a WP. There is no decree removing volunteer police from this requirement.

Posted by DSI Watcher on November 2, 2013 08:17

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- Ryan

If the HC is so well clued up on Phuket matters, it makes his statement even more absurd.

Cars, petrol, insurance, road tax et al all cost the same on Phuket as they do in BKK. Your claim of operating costs being much higher on Phuket is rubbish.

A ride from BKK airport to downtown can easily take 1hr too but it costs nowhere near Bt 800. Usually around Bt 300.

What a taxi ride in Europe costs is completely irrelevant.

Phuket Taxis do not pay European taxes, have European living expenses, licensing fees, insurance prices, social security liabilities, fuel tax etc.

What a totally ridiculous comparison to make.

The suggestion that the origin of the customer justifies pricing is nothing short of downright racist.

Perhaps the HC would like to introduce a Taxi price list at CDG with different charges according to nationality.

Show your passport and be charged accordingly.

Fabulous idea. Good luck with that.

Posted by ThaiMike on November 2, 2013 09:33

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I had dinner with an expat and local law enforcement officer in Hanoi earlier this year and it was explained to me that to get the job as policeman in Hanoi it cost him $30,000 US which his aunties etc etc all helped him cover.

This is paid back plus interest in no time at all..

Posted by Ty on November 2, 2013 09:40

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@Posted by ThaiMike on November 2, 2013 09:33

Took the very words right out of my mouth .
You are 100% correct...Ridiculous in every/any way to compare taxi fares on Phuket to anywhere else in the world. Comparing Phuket to the rest of Thailand is valid and shows just how expensive a rip off Phuket taxi's are.

Posted by James on November 2, 2013 10:55


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