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Going public:  Chart Jindapol in Phuket City today

Bribery Claims Embroil Patong in Corruption

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
PHUKET: Patong's bars and nightclubs are appealing to stay open until 4am as the Phuket west coast holiday capital ties itself in political knots over bribery claims.

While Rihanna and What the Pop Star Saw remains a talking point, it's the cash flowing into the Phuket corruption network that is raising eyebrows and tempers.

Today, fresh intrigue brought to centre stage again a man who says he remains in touch with fugitive former Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Dressed all in white, perhaps having forgotten to change after the Vegetarian Festival concluded on Sunday, Chart Jindapol says he is not the bag man for the corruption ''mafia'' - but he does know the identity of the real Big Collector.

According to Khun Chart, the Big Collector who takes charge of all the corrupt money that flows from Patong's establishments is a special branch policeman named Wit.

Wit, says Khun Chart, acts on behalf of the 17 government groups and organisation that each take a cut from the bending of laws in Patong.

But Khun Chart is now at Wit's end, so to speak.

Last week he sent a letter to the present Prime Minister, Thaksin's sister Yingluick Shinawatra, copied to the Tourism and Sport department, the Royal Thai Police and the Interior Ministry, calling for an investigation of Mr Wit and his activities.

Khun Chart says his influence with Thaksin Shinawatra led to the former PM of Thailand recently posting on his Facebook page a call for Thai police to ''clean up'' Pattaya and Phuket.

The whole corruption circus in Patong surfaced soon after the campaign by the Tourism and Sport Ministry to end corruption on Phuket was announced on August 9.

Soon after, Khun Chart was anonymously denounced as the ''Mr Big'' collector for Patong, the person who allegedly collects all the bribe money and passes it on to many government officials.

Others, including the now-electorally-suspended Mayor of Patong, Pian Keesin, and his son Prab, have questioned who is really corrupt: the people who pay the money or the people who take it.

Both were named in a list of suspects released by the Department of Special Investigation as the anti-corruption campaign began in August.

Since then, the plot has grown a whole lot thicker.

Seated with Khun Chart today was Weerawit Kuresombut, President of the Entertainment Association of Patong.

''What more do the police want from us?'' he asked. ''We pay every month. We even organise a roster of people who are arrested to order so that the officers look as though they are doing their jobs.''

The ''tea money'' from nightclubs and restaurants amounted to 10 million baht a month, he said, with nightclubs paying as much as 100,000 baht while a small bar might pay 2000 or 3000 baht.

''The point is that the asking price has gone up 100 percent to 120 percent in the space of two years, and nobody can afford this,'' he said.

Some of the Patong nightclub venues have even resorted to becoming restaurants to avoid paying the cash demanded to allow them to open after legal trading hours end.

''I don't believe the local Phuket administration can fix this problem,'' he said. ''We need the national government's help.''

Such is the general unhappiness that many of the paying businesses are considering closing down for a night together in a formal protest, he said.

And of course, the corrupt bribes are another secret ''commission'' that all tourists pay for, unknowingly.

Prices are being boosted so high that tourists are having difficulty paying, said Khun Weerawit.

The dramatic increase in the cost of corruption was threatening Phuket's long-term future as a tourist destination, he said.

Today's media conference took place at the Public Complaints Centre of the Andaman in Phuket City, where Khun Chart is a director.

He is also an adviser to Thailand's trade representative and has recently returned from a trip to China.

Comments

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In August the claim was 60 million THB paid per month, I doubted and suggested a mixup of numbers, common in Thailand. The new number is 10 million per month, might be wrong as well...instead of pointing fingers at people then produce some evidence and get the people charged and convicted. DSI is in town hand over the information to them.
Link to same story in August http://phuketwan.com/tourism/phuket-corruption-accused-patong-man-says-big-collector-takes-million-baht-month-18684/
I would like to help with an answer to Khun Pian's question, the correct answer is both.

Posted by Sailor on October 15, 2013 15:43

Editor Comment:

10 million baht is just the entertainment component, Sailor.

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The finger pointing suggests a 'falling out among thieves'. No matter who is collecting what, it now quite simply has to stop. The DSI has started the pendulum swinging; please don't let it stop until bribery & corruption is rooted out & prices fall to a sustainable level. Remember, the end product of all this skulduggery at the highest levels is eventually passed on to the tourist at the sharp end.

Note: I am in the middle of a lovely family holiday in Chiang Mai which reminds me strongly of what Phuket was like 10 years ago - reasonably priced song taews, tuk tuks & metered taxis; well priced restaurants; & most importantly, everyone smiling & welcoming. It should also be noted that the place is busy with tourists from all over the world & looks vibrant.

Posted by Logic on October 15, 2013 16:13

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This is just getting funny. The DSI is in town but I know for a fact that they are also not bribe-proof. When they came and started the campaign many illegal taxis refused to go to the airport cause they were worried to get arrested. Now they contact hotels and inform them that they can pick up people again, they got a contact to avoid arrests already. People are talking openly about the police taking bribes and being corrupt, even what they arrange to keep up a stable picture to the public and what is getting done? So far we see nothing. I live across Central and I don't see any change with the taxi system there. I work in Kata and I don't see any changes there either. I am a regular visitor to the airport and Patong as well and the amount of touts and shows is only depending on the weather and the occasional ban on alcohol for election days. All this talk about super-cops, big cleanings... when I talked to my Thai colleagues I didn't understand why everybody was just smiling about it, now I get the picture.

Don't get me wrong, I am not turning into a doomsayer. I still have hopes for Phuket (even though they might became less big recently) but this whole island is deeply corrupted into it's very deeply buried roots and a clean up will be a much much bigger job than anybody from the authorities expected.

Posted by Jakub on October 15, 2013 17:01

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"''What more do the police want from us?'' he asked. ''We pay every month. We even organise a roster of people who are arrested to order so that the officers look as though they are doing their jobs.''

Good to see that these things which everyone knows are going on are finally starting to get acknowledged publicly.

Posted by NomadJoe on October 15, 2013 17:16

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I do want to compliment Phuketwan for getting these events in front of us so quickly. There are a lot of shortcomings to be addressed but it's also interesting to wonder what all is going on.

Posted by juswunderin on October 15, 2013 17:59

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@NomadJoe, yes, and it's getting hard everyday for our beloved Ed to deny it. Maybe we will see the day when he acknowledges that at times PW readers have been right in their "assumptions."

Posted by DSI Watcher on October 15, 2013 20:14

Editor Comment:

The only ''assumption'' to make is that when people are openly discussing corruption, DSI Watcher, the situation is improving. Perhaps your glass is always half empty.

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Anyone who's been to China should have seen the counterfeit liquors in almost any 7-11, FamilyMart, Supermarket or local Chinese convenient stores.

In Thailand you may have noticed how bar owners are supplied. They just dial the number and a guy drops in on either a bike or a pickup in the
middle of night or evening. If you believe these are real stuff you are drinking? Think twice!

Would a well-known brand such as Johnnie Walker or Hennessy or Jim Beam or Jack Daniel's etc. process their sales via these boys?
How many people have suffered from alcohol poisoning or even lost their lives? How long more should this continue? How many more lives?

Please visit China and you will see the fake liquors almost anywhere and everywhere.

It is extremely important to fight the corruption. It is not only about money but also human lives.

Posted by ChinaMan on October 15, 2013 20:54

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Chinaman - the deliveries to bars from guys on bikes with salengs are from ordinary liquor merchants. It is the way that business is done here with the smaller bars. Next time you see them, check the bottles and you will see they have tax stamps. They are the genuine product - not copies. Not meaning to be insulting, but you seem to have little idea of how business is done here and you jump to extraordinary conclusions.

Posted by Ping on October 16, 2013 12:39

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Ping/ED:
You might be correct. I don't know much about Phuket but i do know much about China and Trading.
I inspect container loads to various destinations on daily basis. If you were in my position you would have understood.
And if you had worked in trading branch for over a decade you would have understood.

Chinese are packing EXACT to the customers requirements. Tax stamps? No problems. That's a walk in the park.

I see them leaving the ports so i know what i am talking about and don't mean to be insulting either.

Posted by ChinaMan on October 16, 2013 19:44

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@ChinaMan

A very considerate response and which obviously shows your experience in these matters at a macro-Asian level.

Hope to hear your insights in the future.

Posted by Concerned & Understand on October 17, 2013 09:08


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