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Phi Phi is a beautiful destination where young visitors enjoy the bar culture

Phi Phi Police 'Beat Up Tourists,' says Phuket Expat

Saturday, March 26, 2011
AN American told today of ''36 hours of hell'' on Phi Phi in which five young tourists were allegedly beaten by police before they disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

Miller Williams says that the five were English, Australian and American, and he is now keen to have word that they are safe. The 21-year-old wants the incident revealed, he said to Phuketwan, so he can be certain that the five are out of danger.

''Twenty people were witnesses to the beating,'' said Mr Williams, who added that he was ''still traumatised'' by the events that he says took place on Phi Phi early on Tuesday morning.

Also known as ''Muay,'' the solidly-built Mr Williams said that he had been training for Thai kickboxing on Phuket since arriving on January 24. He took a trip to Phi Phi on Monday to relax.

In the evening, he went to the Reggae Bar and after, in the dark, walked past the turnoff to his room at the Flower Bungalows. He said he heard a commotion and followed the noise to the Sunflower Bar, where an expat girl said: ''Please help my friend. She's getting beaten up.''

He found a Thai woman fighting an expat woman in the bushes, with a crowd of onlookers. As he stepped forward to break up the fight, Mr Williams said, a Thai man warned him firmly ''No no no, you can't do that.''

He later learned that a larger fight had begun after one of the expat women had called out ''Claire! Claire!'' to a friend on the other side of the bar.

A Thai man told her to stop yelling, but she continued, and the Thai man hit the woman, Mr Williams said.

One of the expat men in the bar, seeing his girlfriend hit, retaliated, Mr Williams said. In the aftermath, as he looked on, security officials in the bar had handcuffed two male and two female expats.

''Official Phi Phi police arrived and I and 20 others saw the police punch, kick and strike the four with batons,'' Mr Williams said. ''Some of the punches were to the face.''

Saying he was a lawyer, Mr Williams said he attempted to intervene and was permitted to follow the group to the Phi Phi police station.

''I found out later that the man in the white shirt who started the fight had some sort of connection to the police officer on duty that night,'' Mr Williams said.

As he headed towards the police station, Mr Williams said, one of the women involved in the dispute told him: ''Police are beating up my boyfriend in the alley.'' But he said that he found nothing in the alley.

Later at the police station, having enlisted two expat companions as he passed the Irish pub, Mr Williams said he continued to claim he was a lawyer and US embassy representative.*

He said the leading officer at the Phi Phi police station called him into another room for a private conversation that centred on the need to keep the incident quiet to avoid alarming tourists.

When he returned to the main room, the other people had gone. Mr Williams said that he was told the expat victims had been taken to the Phi Phi hospital.

When he arrived at the hospital, in heavy rain, a short time later, there were no lights on.

He said he awakened hospital staff by ringing the doorbell, but the staff said that nobody had been treated that night.

Mr Williams said he later made his way back to Phuket, but remains perturbed by the experience and would like to know that the five people at the centre of the incident are safe.

He is staying with friends in a gated community on Phuket and hoping to hear more before he heads home on April 25.

Describing himself as a ''writer, fighter, true actor,'' Mr Williams has an online site at millerwilliamsaction.com

*CLARIFICATION: Mr Williams says that he did not pretend to be from the US embassy but he did say he had contacted the embassy; that he talked to the police officer inside the police station while the rest of the group were outside, and that there were ''about 20 witnesses,'' not 20.
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Comments

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Mr Williams said he continued to claim he was a lawyer and US embassy representative. Describing himself as a ''writer, fighter, true actor,''
He missed out on attention seeker

Posted by FS on March 26, 2011 11:35

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I do not see this man as an attention seeker but a concerned citizen helping his fellow traveller.I hope Phuketwan will follow up on this story!.

Posted by lord jim on March 26, 2011 12:29

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This is not looking very good, let's hope these expats are ok, Mr Williams was just trying to do the right thing and help these people.

Posted by malc on March 26, 2011 13:33

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Writer fighter true actor AND lawyer - all at the tender age of 21 - Mr Mitty sure had a wonderful life. As one who embraces chaos is will be interesting to see if this story develops into anything credible. Amazing you disavow a lot of things printed here LJ but seem to think this one is gospel.

Posted by Mister Ree on March 26, 2011 13:36

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PW are you going to forward this onto the governor?

Posted by john s on March 26, 2011 13:45

Editor Comment:

We weren't planning on forwarding it to anyone, john, but you certainly may if you wish.

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Phi Phi Island is part of Krabi Province and hence comes under the jurisdiction of Krabi legal authorities.

Posted by Soupdragon on March 26, 2011 14:29

Editor Comment:

Yes.

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ed do you have an email?

Posted by john s on March 26, 2011 14:32

Editor Comment:

editor@phuketwan.com

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I am not ''seeking attention,'' except in the way that I'm seeking the attention of press to bring awareness to the situation that I witnessed. Right now my words have a great capacity to be helpful to the people I am concerned about. For all the BS top news stories you see about Tiger Woods' extramarital affairs and various sports teams winning meaningless trophies, I should hope enough people understand that what I'm trying to do here is important and deserves a fair read. My age and for that matter personality, both online and offline, have nothing to do with the essential issue at hand, namely the safety of the five tourists I saw beaten by the Phi Phi police. The more publicity their story receives, the more likely we are to learn of the fate of those people, which is the ultimate goal. Of course, I'm aware that my website will be getting extra visitors to hear my side of the story, but that should not be confused with a desire for personal attention. I can be contacted through my website and will send news to all that are concerned if I receive any updates. Thanks,

Posted by Miller Williams on March 26, 2011 14:52

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editor, an email for the governor and honorary consuls, so i can forward this article.

Posted by john s on March 26, 2011 15:20

Editor Comment:

The governor of Phuket's email is governorphuket@hotmail.com but Phi Phi is a part of Krabi. Any particular honorary consul? I can't give you emails for all 22.

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@ Miller Williams
Isn't it illegal to misrepresent yourself as a lawyer and US embassy representative to the police?

Posted by FS on March 26, 2011 15:20

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@Miller, as stated in a post here, Phi Phi is in Krabi Province, you should start there, really, they have a governor, a provincial police chief, etc. I have seen your blog on this, and some of your other posts on that blog. The story has a lot of questions, to say the least, as well as your demeanor.

From your blog:

1. "The details of the conversation [between you and the police chief] I'll wait to disclose" What's the big secret?

2. "I asked to be taken to the hospital. The police refused." The police are not a taxi service.

3. "The victims were not there [hospital], the hospital staff hadn't heard anything, but they let me use the computer at which point I posted my Facebook EMERGENCY message." I just do not think a hospital would let a stranger, and a westerner, have access to a hospital computer so you could access facebook.

4. "I was told that nobody could come to help the situation [from US Embassy staff], the best the embassy could do was make a phone call. I hung up." Well, did you ask who they were calling? Did you expect the Embassy staff to jump on a plane and fly right down?

5. Telling the police you are a lawyer, means absolutely nothing, and I doubt you are an international lawyer. You are in Thailand, not Kansas. Telling police you are an Embassy representative, do you have ID that shows this?

6. "I decided to stay on the island today in order to find them. I've looked around, asked people, and observed, and seen nothing. It's like they've disappeared. I truly hope they're just hiding out somewhere..." So for a whole day, no knows any of these people? No one has seen these people? what about the 2 mates from the Irish pub that you took with you to the police station, no mention of them after you got them from the bar, what do they have to say? At the time of morning you say this happened, people getting beat up for yelling in a bar, people getting beat up in alleys, makes one one wonder how much alcohol one had to drink. I think you have a good start to a bad novel, nothing more. However, if something does come out of your search, then I will offer my apologies then.

Posted by Lee on March 26, 2011 15:47

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@FS, stating oneself as a lawyer would just get a lot of laughs from police I think, but stating one is a US Embassy representative, that may have other results. Tread carefully Mr. Williams. I am researching you through the US Embassy now. And FS, I agree with your first post!

Posted by Lee on March 26, 2011 16:12

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I think that Mr. Williams has seen too many American action movies and then mix up the films and how to behave in a decent way of reality.

Posted by Martin on March 26, 2011 17:15

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As I've said, some of the details in this article are inaccurate. I did not say I was an Embassy rep, I told the police that the embassy had been called. As for telling them I was an American Lawyer, I was working with the resources I had at hand in this time of terrifying events. Thanks for your comments and pointing out the weaknesses in my reporting. I'm not a professional, just a man who happens to write and take action when other people would rather watch from the sidelines and criticize. I knew none of the people from the night, including the two Englishmen that came along to help, before the events were taking place. As far as the hospital letting me use their computer, I don't even see how that's an issue. Are you suggesting I lied about that? Some of the allegations on here are silly, and I won't take up much more of my time responding to them.

Sincerely,

Posted by Miller Williams on March 26, 2011 17:56

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Since this sounds like a very serious matter, I am sure that Phuket Wan will be able to rapidly confirm from the Phi Phi police that this incident took place and how they are investigating it.

Posted by Simon Luttrell on March 26, 2011 19:11

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Disregard the naysayers Miller.

No one cares "Lee" if you apologize after the 6 point list you wasted your time concocting is dis-proven.

Of course the cops beat them up, but probably not too bad. And maybe even still have them somewhere.

You didn't happen to obtain the names of any of the five?

Posted by JingJing on March 26, 2011 20:21

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Did any of the 20 witnesses use their cameras or phone cameras to record this event? You cannot do anything now, without someone making a video of it.

Posted by Phuket Kop on March 26, 2011 21:12

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@FS

I hope you never get into trouble in Thailand, as with your creepy attitude I'm sure nobody would ever lift one finger to help you. As for Mr. Williams, you are a true samatarian!

Posted by Theodor on March 26, 2011 21:45

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Maybe they were just arrested and are being detained at the police station? Did anybody go check there? Sounds not entirely implausible.

Posted by christian on March 27, 2011 00:17

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I am surprised so many people do not give this chap the benefit of the doubt before launching attacks on him. If this incident happened it's possible one of the victims might tell a newspaper back home. Probably will not want to get into more trouble here. Hasn't someone gone to the bar in question and simply asked?

Posted by Andrew on March 27, 2011 10:33

Editor Comment:

Andrew, You're quite right. As you know, there are more experts on journalism than practitioners. It's an appalling saga, but this young chap is a messenger . . . so the pack instinct is to pull him down. The Phi Phi bars are, like certain Hua Hin property sales organisations, unlikely to cooperate. News from Phi Phi is an oxymoron. Business people there are more concerned these days about what's happening on the island than they are about maintaining the picture-postcard image. By day, everything is wonderful. After dark? Anything goes.

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Sorry, not pack instinct but I find I hard to blindly believe any story in which the the protagonist also happens to be a prevaricator... I'll wait for independent confirmation before judging.

Posted by MD on March 27, 2011 12:29

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Keep at it Mr. Williams. There are a lot of brave folks here who don't get enough coverage.

And for once: well done PW. This is a newsworthy story that I doubt will see the light of day in other publications.

Posted by Nathan on March 27, 2011 14:10

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@JingJing and Kop

There is a single photograph. I explained this to Alan when we spoke: I was walking back to my room with an underwater camera I had just bought for a snorkeling trip the next morning. I managed to snap one picture of the backs of the victims head and a few of the officers before I was threatened to put it away.

As far as video recording goes I do not know if one of the witnesses was able to catch it on their smartphone. Something like that could come to light the more this story spreads, which is the purpose of sharing the story to begin with. I DO have footage of myself talking about the event to a friend in Phuket (a Canadian Police officer) so that I could document my experience while it was still fresh in my memory.

I lost my credit card and videocamera USB cord when on Phi Phi, and have been lucky to be staying with supportive friends in Phuket.

Sincerely,

Posted by Miller Williams on March 27, 2011 15:02

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Who knows what really happened that night? Either it is a very serious incident which needs a proper investigation, in which case good on him. OR it is some kind of scuffle which was misinterpreted by a drunken, albeit well-meaning, passer by.

It's tough to call without hearing other witness accounts or seeing any shred of evidence. I guess there's another debate around whether or not it should be printed given these points.

One thing that made me laugh though, is that whilst fending off accusations of being an attention seeker and self promoter, Williams took it upon himself to post his picture. Bit ironic..?

Posted by Ferg on March 27, 2011 16:41

Editor Comment:

We have no reason to doubt Mr Williams' account. Given the number of consistent reports of disturbing incidents on Phi Phi - and with a Phi Phi businessman recently murdered - we opted to carry this version of events in the hope that others involved will come forward. Mr Williams has made it plain that at present, his version so far is the only version of what happened.

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Hey Ferg, guess what? You made me laugh too, which hasn't been easy in the past few days.

See that little box above the "Comments" form? It says this: "Want an avatar for your comments? Register with Gravatar."

Since I have a blog of my own and the Gravatar system is ubiquitous, of course I have a Gravatar account, which is why my picture shows up. The image is attached to my email address.

Enough with the attacks on my personal integrity. Just read the story with a grain of salt like you would any other of an eyewitness account and leave it at that until more evidence comes forward.

Thanks,

Posted by Miller Williams on March 27, 2011 19:39

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thanks miller! don't listen to people here. the truth will come out...thanks for your action! makes me still believe in this world...

Posted by mike on March 27, 2011 19:54

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If everyone's picture was on their posts, why do I get the feeling that there would be more honesty and less harrassment in the comment section and internet forums.
Thanks Mr Williams, if I ever get in trouble around here, I hope you are around, or someone like you.

Posted by fidler on March 28, 2011 12:33

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Miller isn't the story here. The story is the 5 people who, if they are still alive, could be held captive and severely injured. I hope a further investigation results.

The fact that Miller happens to be a hero type (he is also starting to resemble Jean Claude Van Damme) is secondary.

Miller is my resourceful nephew and I know that everything he said is true.

We thought he was crazy for putting his own life in danger, again and again (How many people would do that? Not the other 20 witnesses!) Miller had to disguise himself in order to escape from Phi Phi on the ferry.

His family hopes he will be safe in Phuket for the next month, while an investigation takes place.

Posted by jerry25 on March 28, 2011 14:07

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@ jerry25. With all due respect sir, there is still many unanswered questions from the account. Why go to Phuket and not the US Embassy if one is in fear of their life? Miller did not "escape" Phi Phi Island, he left on a ferry, as for the disquise, why? He could have been arrested there, but was not. In 6 days not a single person from the "20 witnesses" has said anything. Miller stated four were handcuffed and beaten with batons by the police, but is looking for 5 people, and does not knows or remember any of the names. He said he took two people he did not know from the Irish Bar, but they were never mentioned again. So far not one person has come forward to prove anything. And an important part, Thai Police do not carry batons.

Very respectfully,
Lee Thayer

Posted by Lee on March 28, 2011 14:55

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"The story is the 5 people who, if they are still alive, could be held captive and severely injured. I hope a further investigation results."

Are the police now beating people, holding them captive?

Everyone thinks this a regular occurance on Phi Phi Island. So far, Miller has not stated he talked to anyone to conduct an investigation, that would be Krabi Province, not Phuket.

And he cannot produce any names of those involved.

Posted by Lee on March 28, 2011 16:06

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Sufficient time has passed to; 1) allow the implicated "victims" to come forward and to contact Phuketwan to corroborate events; 2) obtain comment from the implicated police and 3) have a statement from the US Embassy. Where can I find this information please?

Posted by Charlie in Patong on March 28, 2011 16:55

Editor Comment:

Based on past experience, it can take up to a month for the word to get around on the Internet. The US Embassy is unlikely to produce a statement on this or any other matter involving individual citizens.

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Lee.

You must be referring to Phuketwan's quote :''Official Phi Phi police arrived and I and 20 others saw the police punch, kick and strike the four with batons,'' Mr Williams said. Some of the punches were to the face.

While Alan Morrison's (the Phuketwan reporter who wrote the article) efforts to spread the news of this story has been helpful, we have been in touch since he published the article on Phuketwan about several misquotations. For example the article originally stated that I told the police I was a US embassy representative, which I did not.

Mr. Morrison and I spoke at 5:30AM and he wrote the article based off notes he took. If you look at the article again, you'll notice a CLARIFICATION at the end.

A few more clarifications: the incident happened on Tuesday night and Wednesday in the early AM, not Monday.

What I did tell Mr Morrison when we spoke was that one of the victims told me they had been struck with a baton. I can only guess at what they meant (a bamboo stick, or an actual baton).

In response to your other questions:

Names: Jack, Ollie, Claire. The other two I didn't get. I was only able to get these while the events were occurring because as I've stated I knew none of the victims before I came across the chaotic event.

Why there were five people: there were two couples and another female. There were also two Englishmen that came with me after I told them the situation who I came across at the Irish Pub on my way to the police station.

Your attacks against my character and eyewitness account of a serious incident is concerning and makes me wonder why you have gone to such lengths to discredit me. What is your stake in this story? What do you have to lose by the story being public?My only goal is to find out what happened to those people that night and find out if they are safe. What is your goal?

This comment is a copy of the one I posted on my website in response to similar accusations by "Lee."

Posted by Miller Williams on March 28, 2011 17:49

Editor Comment:

My notes clearly show that Mr Williams told me he arrived on Phi Phi on Monday. I've posted the clarification because this is his story and the central accusations are plain.

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Miller, - yeah, some nights are like that. Basically the editor hit it correctly, - the pack instinct is to drag someone real down.

They do this because they have been hardened through false conditioning to think they know the right and wrong response to every single challenge, issue, or experience in Thailand.

Their logic, and even their very nature is however, unsound.

Police brutality, corruption, intrigue and outright murder are elements of the dark side of these lands. Just ask any immigrant worker.

I don't have many suggestions as to what the next move is, - you did your part with honor. As in all things, it will work itself out, tomorrow is a new day. That alone is perhaps all one could ask for.

Posted by JingJing on March 28, 2011 21:49

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I've posted a list of events from that night on my website. You can find it through a google search and it's listed at the end of the article above.

Posted by Miller Williams on March 31, 2011 08:06

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Why has it gone dead quiet on this subject?

Posted by Sam Wilko on April 7, 2011 13:29

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Still no word from the people involved. I'm praying that time will tell. If months go by without word of missing people reports that match the victims' descriptions I will have to settle for that. It's a really strange situation and I have resigned myself to waiting, for now.

My educated guess is that the people are trying to physically and mentally distance themself from what happened (understandable) and they are almost definitely not on Phi Phi anymore. They could've left on the ferry the next morning.

I'd love to know what happened to them, but until we hear anything it's just a waiting game.

Sincerely,

Posted by Miller Williams on April 11, 2011 17:21

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Thank you Miller, we found John and thank you that he was not involved. Only skipped the country to go and visit in 'Nam. Then he came back to Phuket, safe and sound.
Keep on harping with PW, something will crawl out the woodwork.
Good man, have courage. Happy Sonkran.

Posted by Graham on April 12, 2011 00:13

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Dear Ed, please find below a copy of the message I left this evening on Miller's personal website which refers to the article you published above.

FYI... and for the information of your readers and followers:

Miller,

I apologise for the delay in getting back to you, but I was so angry with your inaccurate reports that I could not see straight, let alone write a detailed reply.

After much investigation I can confirm that the incident you witnessed DID NOT occur at the Sunflower Bar, and nor did it have absolutely anything to do with my bar, my staff, my customers, or my partner (the thai man you refer to throughout your story {on your website} as having instigated the violence).

Perhaps this is part of the reason why no one has come forward with any further information, as you have provided them with the wrong information right from the start.

It is my understanding the incident you describe occurred at one of the loud and crazy beach bars, further along Lohdalum Bay.... that sell buckets of alcohol, drugs, play exceedingly loud music, and stay open 24/7.

I am pretty sure I know which of the said bars it occurred at, but unlike yourself, I am not going to name it in print, just in case I have been misinformed, as I wasn't there in person.

While you correctly point out {on your website} that my partner lost his whole family in the tsunami, and as you say 'went a little crazy', this is no reason to accuse him outright of the serious offences you witnessed and described.

Call yourself an investigative journalist?? What rot. You did little more than sniff about to find yourself a likely suspect to fill in the blank of who was responsible for the outrageous behaviour you saw.

{a number of further paragraphs have been removed here for space reasons, they can be viewed in my original message on Miller's website if required}

... I also ask that you contact EVERY website or link that has reproduced any account of your story, to request, at the very least, a correction which clearly states that the WRONG BAR was named in the story, and that our bar had absolutely nothing to do with the events you witnessed.

Ideally, I would like all references to either our bar or my partner removed from every single website that is linked to your personal site, or who is linked to Phuketwan, or who ran any version of your story.

Posted by Mel on May 2, 2011 00:00

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Just briefly want to say I came across this story because I am researching safety on Phi Phi. I was attacked last night by about 5 guys.

I was sat on the beach with a girl when a Thai guy started urinating about 5 feet from me. I got up and told him to move further away. He got very aggressive and I stood my ground but avoided fighting him. I had heard that they will gang up on tourists and said to the girl let's move cos he'll come back.

Well, that's exactly what he did just as we were walking away. Thank god, I actually managed to run. And got away without a single blow. But I have to admit am quite scared to be here now in case they recognise me again tonight.

Completely separately, earlier in the evening, I heard from a guy that some Thai guy had punched an expat girl in the face on the beach.

Miller, 100% believe every word you have written and can say from first hand experience this is the sort of thing that goes down here. I also had a run in with police in Phuket by the way... Just a fine for not wearing a helmet. I went to the police station to pay it and when I protested that before it had been 300 not 500 fine, the policeman started threatening me with putting me in a cell and 'investigating me' and take my passport!

Anyone coming to Thailand and in particular Phi Phi, should know that regardless of the bar owner's protestations, this is a very dangerous place. And you should treat the locals with a quiet and distant contempt too.

Posted by Thai tourist on July 10, 2011 12:07

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Sorry to hear of this.

Who would want to come here for a holiday???????????????????

Posted by Dun on July 10, 2011 13:50

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Well Dun I would expect anyone of the 99.9% of the people who come and never have a problem. Just like the percentage of us who have lived here for 15 plus years and have never seen anything like this story happen. Perhaps it did happen, perhaps it happened as described but it is unusual at the least and I would suspect that others are as skeptical as I am about all or parts of this tale. Key parts of a story are who (unknown), where (unsure), when (unsure), how (not known) and why (unknown) leaving you with a lot of feathers and very little if any chicken. There are reasons to question visiting anyplace, Phuket included but this story is not one of them.

Posted by Martin on July 10, 2011 17:01

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And you should treat the locals with a quiet and distant contempt too.

Posted by Thai tourist on July 10, 2011 12:07

perhaps you would fare better by treating locals with quiet and distant respect!!

Posted by another steve on July 10, 2011 17:22

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@ Martin, thanks for your input , now you can get back to enjoying your wacky weed. We know who you are, little santa's roady.

Posted by Dun on July 10, 2011 18:00

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@ another steve
" perhaps you would fare better by treating locals with quiet and distant respect!!"

Maybe the locals should not p*** on their own tourists.
(moderated).

Posted by DunB on July 10, 2011 19:25

Editor Comment:

DunB, you're going over the top. Most of us have found people on Phuket who deserve respect. Perhaps you just haven't look hard enough in the right places.

Only bigots generalise.

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This story is now nearly four months old Mr Dun and is still missing corroboration from any of the victims. In fact I really don't see corroboration from anyone. These are pretty serious accusations made against the police among others. I tend to think people are innocent until proven guilty, probably get that from the wacky weed. So, again what we have here is a story about a case of police brutality that is based on one individual's version of events. See Lee Thayer's comment (made after just 6 days with no victims) above, apparently he is smoking the same stuff I am.

Victims are a pretty important part of an accusation by the way, you know if you were interested in making a decision based on facts. Logically one would usually ask if you have no witnesses, no victims, no verification what do you have (besides a lack of credibility)? You know, if a tree falls in a forest ...

Maybe I missed it but I haven't read of charges being filed or a complaint with the Tourist Police or any of the Embassies as one would expect. It's like "I heard from a guy that some Thai guy had punched an expat girl in the face on the beach." Umm ... OK maybe that happened or more likely it was just idle chatter. To suggest (as you have) that there is imminent danger to anyone visiting Phuket based on such hearsay doesn't make much sense.

If you start running your life to avoid every rumor that is going around you are going to be avoiding a lot and without a shred of real evidence this is nothing more than a rumor.

I would also agree with another steve, it depends on how you treat people, that impacts how you get treated in response. FYI Dun, they call that the Golden Rule.

You can Google it, it's been around a while and Steve and I are not its lone proponents. I am sure that anywhere you go if you are looking for trouble you will find it.

Posted by Martin on July 10, 2011 22:11

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So....the one lonely cop on a motorbike beat him with four batons? Hmmm... unless it was the rare occasion that a BKK task force was on the island, I find this story full of holes. Have been going to Phi Phi for ten years and I've never EVERY seen a group of cops show up anywhere... at least not the last 15 or 20 times I've been there.

Posted by liz on January 27, 2015 18:24


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