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Phuket people must break free from thugs, says one businessman

Phuket Anger Mounts Over Taxi, Tuk-Tuk Lawless Violence

Monday, September 5, 2011
PHUKET: Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha and Phuket Police Commander Major General Pekad Tantipong were today considering what action to take as taxi and tuk-tuk drivers continue to settle minor disputes with extreme violence.

The manager of an elephant trekking tour company whose driver was assaulted outside a five-star resort yesterday as his tourist passengers were told to ''f**** off'' said that he could name large and well-known Phuket resorts that often fell victim to intimidation by local taxi and tuk-tuk gangs.

Sinlapachai Choosen, the manager of Kok Chang Kata Safari, said: ''Why are they [taxi and tuk-tuk drivers] allowed to do this? It's as though Phuket has no law.''

On Wednesday, Austrian Ambassador to Thailand Dr Dr Johannes Peterlik made the point to Phuket officials that while European nations urged their tourists to obey Thai law, there was little point if tuk-tuk drivers, taxi drivers and jet-ski operators took Thai law into their own hands and nothing was done.

Yesterday's assault on a tour driver by a handful of local taxi drivers outside the five-star Cape Sienna Resort in Kamala, north of Patong, comes as the latest in a string of retributive incidents that threaten to tarnish Phuket's image as a safe and secure destination for tourists.

This year Australian, Dutch and German citizens have all required hospital treatment - several for extended periods in intensive care units - as a result of holiday island thuggery.

Yet each day, more illegal taxis take to Phuket roads without regulation or control, and beyond the laws of Thailand. The Thai driver of the tour car, Preecha Choowong, 38, was badly beaten yesterday for defying Phuket's taxi law-makers

His boss Khun Sinlapachai said today that he wanted to take the matter as far as possible. ''The law must be upheld in Phuket, just as it must be upheld all over Thailand.''

He instanced the regular blockades last high season by legal and illegal taxis of Phuket's deep sea port, forcing cruise liners to give in to their demands for more passengers at exorbitant fares or face continued trouble.

At least one of the international resort brands named by Khun Sinlapachai today has previously taken a principled stand against union monopolies in other countries, but conceded the power to taxi and tuk-tuk drivers on Phuket without a whimper.

''These people beat my staff, they beat my vehicle and they swore at tourists,'' Khun Sinlapachai said. ''Yet everything they have and everything more they want depends on the tourists.

''These people take, take, take, and give nothing in return to Phuket. They are selfish to the core. It's time Phuket put an end to this.''
My Phuket Nightmare: Phuket Tourist Tells of Taxi Drivers in Savage Beating
Update A tourist, a tour driver and a tour manager have spoken out about a savage beating of the kind that typifies the behavior of Phuket's monopolistic and intimidatory taxi drivers.
My Phuket Nightmare: Phuket Tourist Tells of Taxi Drivers in Savage Beating

Phuket Taxi Thugs Attack Tour Driver; Tourists Left Shaking, Iron Bar Smashes Windscreen
Latest UPDATE An attack by local taxi drivers who beat up an outside driver and swore at tourists is likely to intensify calls for immediate action to end Phuket's tuk-tuk and taxi monopoly for good.
Phuket Taxi Thugs Attack Tour Driver; Tourists Left Shaking, Iron Bar Smashes Windscreen

Phuket Tuk-Tuks, Jet-Skis Still Top Aussie Tourists' Complaints
Latest Australians and others who visit Phuket as tourists still complain about tuk-tuks and jet-skis, Phuket's governor is told as a German expat resident recovers from a bashing in Patong.
Phuket Tuk-Tuks, Jet-Skis Still Top Aussie Tourists' Complaints

Phuket Police Called In as Taxi Drivers Argue at Big Karon Resort
Latest Taxi drivers argued with a limousine driver and police were called to settle the dispute at the Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket in the latest of a series of incidents.
Phuket Police Called In as Taxi Drivers Argue at Big Karon Resort

Phuket Tuk-Tuk Gang 'Bashed Irate German Senseless,' Says Police Report
Latest A report to Patong police says a drunk German who started a fight with a tuk-tuk driver was bashed senseless by a gang. The German is still in a coma in an intensive care unit.
Phuket Tuk-Tuk Gang 'Bashed Irate German Senseless,' Says Police Report

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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"incidents that threaten to tarnish Phuket's image as a safe and secure destination for tourists"

Phuket's image as a safe and secure playground for well-heeled European and increasingly Asian tourists will never be tarnished! The constantly increasing visitor numbers and the 6th fastest growing airport in the world are testament to that! The future not only looks bright; it harbors incredible riches for resort operators. So many people in Phuket are now becoming very wealthy indeed. However, with wealth comes an increased need for private security firms and elite personal bodyguards since the local police force have proven ineffectual on several occasions.

Posted by Yevgeny Abramovich on September 5, 2011 12:17

Editor Comment:

I wouldn't say hotel security guards behave with distinction, Yevgeny.

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''These people take, take, take, and give nothing in return to Phuket. They are selfish to the core. It's time Phuket put an end to this.''

Nobody has said it better than this.

Posted by Philip on September 5, 2011 13:39

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500 baht fine each should do the trick... that l learn em! *rolleyes

Posted by poppop on September 5, 2011 15:20

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We are not all Russians who need Security or bodyguards Yevgeny, your comments are ridiculous. What planet are you from?

Posted by phuket madness on September 5, 2011 17:42

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i live 6 years in patong with wife and kid. i know every centimer of soi bangla and arround. and i can tell you that this guys are very dangerous. i know how to avoid this people. but one day there will be a dead tourist because they not expect that lawless situation. all taxis pay to the police there. normaly 500 bath a month. i just recently saw a taxi guy who tried to stay near soi bangla. in minutes he was surroundet by 5 other taxi guys who told him to leave. this guy call the police and the police guy told him you can not stay here. everybody is involded. the dream job in phuket now for every lazy thai guy is taxi and tuk tuk driver! and they are definitly not poor!!! i can show few houses they own. and i can see clearly how they get more aggressive each year. its a shame. i never thought to leave patong or phuket but now i planning to leave thailand. its so sad for the good people there...what a shame!

Posted by mike on September 5, 2011 18:37

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(moderated)

Posted by Scunner on September 5, 2011 19:26

Editor Comment:

There you going again, Scunner, blaming individuals for problems that have taken decades to mature into full-scale disasters. It's the system that needs to change. Get angry at the system.

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what's happening in phuket, this is international destination and no law in phuket. who is goverment in phuket, maybe tuk-tuks? shame.

Posted by michal on September 5, 2011 20:13

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Yevgeny what planet are you from, I have never read so much rubbish. I cannot argue with the facts about the airport but lets put that into perspective the increase in flights are due to many more cheap charter flights where most of the expence for the holiday has been paid in the country of departure very little income comes in Phuket from these people. As for the rest of your comments I thought you were being sarcastic at first. And your final comment regarding elite personel bodyguards! I think you should stay off the vodka

Posted by Neil A on September 5, 2011 22:10

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As if it all wasn't painfully obvious with wall to wall tuk tuks taking up every last square inch of sidewalk in Patong on any given day.
Having already committed themselves to the considerable overheads of a day's rental, the pressure is on to land a catch.
At the height of this low season when most of the tourists are being convoyed in buses around the island - Russians and Chinese - the feeding frenzy to hook and clinch at least one ride is considerable.
Basically all they are doing is fighting over the scraps, from the left overs of the tour companies.
When is someone going to come out with the tee shirt - I hate tuk tuks.

Posted by John on September 5, 2011 22:26

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Say what you like about crime, violence or corruption in Phuket... I for one would much rather live in a country like Thailand with almost no laws, or where the actual laws aren't strictly enforced, or are bent or applied loosely, or a problem can be solved with a brown 1000 bill, all of which makes for easy and relaxed living, and improvized ad-hoc solutions to problems to make life free of daily hassles. That's the main thing. Life is just so EASY here in Thailand. Example: No U-turn or no highway flyover? No problem, just drive your motorbike a little slower than normal the wrong way down the side of the road. Built an illegal house? No problem, pay a few thousand to the relevant government department. Operating a bar on a holy festival day when alcohol sales are supposed to banned? Turn off the music and dim the lights. Gotta love a country where you can do pretty much anything and get away with it. There's 100s of other examples... In the West, there are so many rules, regulations and fines. This all adds up to more bureaucracy and headaches. I'm all for flexible application of laws. I think most people who choose to live in Thailand do so because life's just easier, better and more free and fun over here. I could never go back to living in the USA. Everyone's way too serious, and life's too short to be serious. So yes, violence, corruption and crime exist. They do in every country. Why moan about it? You'll only make yourself feel miserable. Ignore it and hope it doesn't happen to you. And as long as you're smart and mind your own business, it probably won't. Mai pen rai. Chok dee krap.

(P.S. If you disagree with my comments, then Thailand is probably not for you. I'll swear I've made some guys in bars here who are more angry, bitter and moaning than they would be in their own country. So what's the point of being in Thai then?)

Posted by Bruce on September 6, 2011 00:47

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(moderated)

Posted by Scunner on September 6, 2011 18:49

Editor Comment:

Show enough courage when pointing your finger at individuals, Scunner, to use your real name, and you may find us listening more intently. You could also do with a bit more background reading on Phuket's recent history.

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Perhaps the new National Police Chief can spare time to come down from Bangkok and ask, preferably in a public forum of some sort, Police Commander Major General Pekad Tantipong why he has allowed this state of affairs to develop seemingly unchecked.

Posted by DG on September 6, 2011 18:56

Editor Comment:

Major General Pekad Tantipong hasn't ''allowed this state of affairs to develop seemingly unchecked.'' The major general has been in the job for two years. The lawlessness has been developing for decades. We don't usually publish knee-jerk criticism of individuals based on poor research. Phuket doesn't have enough police. The new national chief could certainly help by adding several hundred officers.

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This is going to sound cynical, but this incident will soon be buried like so many others before it. The main problem is that tourists who can afford to stay in five star resorts like Cape Sienna have plenty of cash to splash around and aren't going to pay much attention to one nasty incident set against so many good reviews of the hotel on sites like Tripadvisor. Do a google search for Cape Sienna, Kamala and this incident doesn't even make it to the first page.

The hotel itself is also partly to blame for the incident because they very likely carry brochures of available tours in the lobby and should recognise that any tour company driver is going to have to run the gauntlet of hostile taxi drivers in order to pick up his patrons. If management is going to succumb to allowing their guests to be held hostage to whatever whim these gangs are going to rip them off for, then they should at least remove the tour company's brochures, otherwise the same thing is going to happen again in the not too distant future, I regret to say.

Posted by Xircal on September 6, 2011 19:50

Editor Comment:

Our belief is the problems arise with Internet bookings, which are becoming more frequent. Resorts have to make allowances for the unsavvy but influential types on their doorsteps.

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not all thinking like you bruce. some want to see thailand going forward and not going back in the stoneage. probably you don't have kids thats why u talk so easy...

Posted by mike on September 6, 2011 20:31

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So, how many years, in your opinion will the Major General need to get to grips with the tuk-tuk drivers problem? Or is daring to ask this just another "knee jerk" reaction in your opinion?
Bottom line is people are getting hurt and the police do not seem to be doing much about it.

Posted by DG on September 6, 2011 23:49

Editor Comment:

What needs to happen is for unregistered taxis to be put off the roads, for all registered drivers to undergo proper training, and for tour vehicles and others with legal rights to be allowed to pick up passengers at resorts. The police are only one of a number of agencies and businesses who need to all do their jobs to achieve the right result. Ultimately, the ''local taxi'' needs to give way to an island-wide system of quality vehicles offering pickups and central radio control.

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Who are you to bring my courage into doubt, I served my country in several conflict zones around the world over two decades and many more for foreign governments, make all contributors to your papers comments section give their real names and you'll be left with lots of free time on your hands as they no doubt have loved ones on the island do you. Whats is your name Mr ED you never seem to put yourself out in the spot light why is that and why is it you seem to have such a problem with interviewing key players in this situation like the PTF president. I personally don't remember these problems ever being this bad 15,10 or 5 years ago ask your readers for their opinion when they think it all went wrong unlike yours they may mark it down a fair few years from your guess, your paper has only been on the go for a couple of years we can't base the start point on your papers back issues . I don't remember the phuket gazette carrying many if any stories on tuk-tuk violence over the years like it is today but you can no doubt prove me wrong or at least have a try.

Posted by Scunner on September 7, 2011 01:26

Editor Comment:

I've done my time in uniform and generations of my forebears have been in real wars. But even those who were wounded or gassed wouldn't describe what they did as courageous.

Get real. Try doing something for Phuket by looking forward, not back. Courage, spunk, guts, call it what you like. Anonymous whining and finger-pointing doesn't count.


Sunday June 26, 2022
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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