''This is what is destroying Phuket's tourism industry,'' said Palad Janpokin, who grew up on Phuket when Soi Bangla was still a canal.
He told a meeting of about 300 people at Prince of Songkhla University that the extortionate commissions paid to Phuket taxi drivers were undermining tourism on Phuket and pushing prices of all activities too high for many.
''The green plate taxi drivers operate with the collusion of local businesses who pay these excessive amounts to the drivers to avoid competition,'' Khun Palad said.
''The National Council for Peace and order has been told what is happening by the governor and other administrators rather than local people who can see the harm that is being done to all of tourism by these excessive commissions.
''Phuket's taxi drivers need to be returned to what taxis should be - people who take passengers from point to point without making excessive profits for all the wrong reasons.''
Another longtime Phuket resident, Sithiporn Chaimongklon, said he had moved to Bangkok and felt saddened every time he returned to the island.
''Phuket, the Pearl of the Andaman, is not true any more,'' he said. ''The pearl is grey already. Everybody takes from Phuket without thinking about the public interest.''
He said Phuket had a good natural environment that should have been properly preserved but it had been attacked and destroyed by ''greedy businesspeople, greedy officials and greedy locals.''
''Every time I return to Phuket, the island has changed a little more, and none of it is for the better,'' he said. ''If I choose to go to a public beach, I shouldn't have to fight my way past commercial enterprises.''
Many in the audience were beach vendors, who are appealing for their jobs back and want government subsidies if they are not allowed to return.
Khun Palad was greeted with catcalls when he addressed the audience, saying: ''You attack the public beach and pretend it's your own. You are concerned only about making money and you have never given anything back in return, except trash and bad water.''
Another seminar is to be held next week as the university and local interest groups compile a document describing the issues of Phuket's beaches that they plan to submit directly to the National Council for peace and order, avoiding local Phuket administrators who failed to send a representative to the meeting.