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The tuk-tuk tourist torment on Phuket seems set to continue into 2010

Exclusive: Man 'Beat My Family Over Car Parking'

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
A DISPUTE between a French tourist on a Christmas holiday and a man wielding a weapon has ignited more debate on Phuket about tuk-tuks.

The incident provoked calls for a petition to the Governor banning all tuk-tuks, a knee-jerk reaction that confuses one violent episode with the future of public transport on Phuket.

The Director of Public Transport on Phuket, Kanok Siripanichkoon, said that solving Phuket's public transport problems was hindered by the involvement of figures who control and benefit from the organised tuk-tuk monopolies.

''A proper solution is a long way off,'' he said. ''Trains and light rails are expensive and unlikely to be affordable at this stage.

''Puiblic transport is certainly needed to give residents and tourists more options.''

In the incident that aroused passions among tuk-tuk opponents, the French tourist says he had his arm broken.

His wife and father were also assaulted by a man swinging the metal and wood stump of a beach umbrella in a public parking area, near the Kata Palm Resort.

The dispute was over a parking spot, the tourist told officers and Phuketwan.

The tourist, who was at Chalong police station today to report the incident, has a broken arm and would only give his name as ''Didier.''

He told Phuketwan, the only news organisation he spoke to at the police station, that he fears for the safety of relatives who live on Phuket.

His father, who was also at the police station, had cuts to his elbow. The tourist's wife, the pair say, was also attacked, but she was not at the police station today.

Police identified the alleged assailant from bystander witnesses and the French family have identified him from photographs. The young man, Likit Teangtea, will be arrested once a warrant has been processed.

Sources in the Karon-Kata tuk-tuk organisation told Phuketwan this evening that the man was a tuk-tuk driver, although the French tourist was at pains to make clear earlier that he had no certain knowledge of this.

''I'm not sure it's a tuk tuk driver,'' the tourist had said, talking exclusively to Phuketwan, although he clearly had his suspicions.

At 3pm on December 26, he said, he pulled up the family car in the Karon Municipality parking lot.

''It seems that the tuk-tuk or taxi driver came out of the little shed where all the drivers are sitting, and insulted us. He said we weren't allowed to park, it was reserved for the police.

''We said 'It's nonsense', because there was no sign. There were plenty of other cars. We actually left and were going to do some shopping.

''One specific gentleman, whom the police are investigating, came out with the bat as you can see there [pointing at the stump] the wooden and metal pole and went straight at me with all his strength and aimed at my head, trying obviously to kill me.

''I put my arm in front of me, so it broke my arm. My father jumped on him and got the bat away from him, so he went to get another one.

''He came back and tried to hit me again and missed me, he hit my wife and eventually my father disarmed him again, and he left and we left as well.

''As my arm was broken we called the police and we went to the hospital. It was operated on.

''I think this gentleman was under the influence of drugs. He did not look healthy at all. As I told you, i would prefer if our names were not mentioned.''

The French tourist said he was a regular visitor to Phuket and Thailand and this was the first time he had been subjected to aggressive behavior.

''It happens, but I've never had any problems,'' he said. ''Until now, I thought Thailand was safe for tourists but this experience means I don't think I will come back to Thailand, ever.

''I just come here to see my family, and they will fly to see us instead.''

He said he had been in Phuket for two weeks.

On one expat online chat site today, some expats were calling for a boycott of tuk-tuks, plus a boycott of all firms advertising on tuk-tuks, over the incident.

Phuketwan has consistently highlighted the issue of a lack of a public transport strategy on Phuket, complicated by the growing numbers of tuk-tuks in a worsening economic climate for tourism.

Some people within the transport industry, including the leader of the Karon-Kata organisation that represents tuk-tuks, taxis and mini-vans in the region, see the need for improvements.

While the alleged assault on the French tourist is a criminal matter, the solution to Phuket's public transport is an economic one that involves the future of drivers and their families.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


So Sad for Phuket....... but its good that all this issues are finally addressed by the media. its good in the long-term!
Fact is that public parking is reserved for car and bike rental companies. also for tuk-tuks and vendors.
Whenever i socialize with them and ask questions, they all have to pay some people....

Posted by KRR on December 29, 2009 15:14


Been 4 years since I used a tuktuk because of my last use of one. It was in a monsoon and we got to my apartment and the fare was something like 280 baht. I didn't have the fare in small money so gave the driver 500 baht and was waiting at the passenger window in the rain waiting for him to give me change.

He told me he didn't have change...yeah right...and made some searching moves around the cab like he was looking for money but kept saying he didn't have change. Meanwhile I was getting soaked. So supposedly neither of us had change. Then he leaned across and opened the glove box on the passenger side so right by me and I saw a gun in there! I got the feeling he wanted me to see it!

So I just told him to keep the money and went into my apartment. Never used a tuktuk since.

Posted by Rex on December 29, 2009 19:56


I drove through Karon twice in the past two years but could not stop as they would not let me park any place. Can't spend money there so I stay in Rawai.
The local government either does not know or does not care about this situation. The army needs to be called in.

No kidding.
but nothing will ever come of this.

Posted by Restless in Rawai on December 29, 2009 20:26


Well let's hope that this French family's incident is not in vain. What more does the Government need to bring about some change?

Really what is also sad here is that no one, not even the other tuk tuk drivers, stepped in.

Posted by Vfaye on December 29, 2009 23:34


An inexcusable incident. It apparently happened before at the same location, about a year ago. Lots of witnesses saw a tuk-tuk driver set upon a hapless farang and left him severely beaten and unconscious for parking in the tuk-tuk "space". A local media outlet sniffed out the story at the tine but were unable to verify it.

This latest incident has got people screaming for a tuk-tuk boycott, but this would require a boycott of Phuket itself as there are just no other transport options available for many visitors. The local tuk-tuk consortium is very influential and has no intention of going away anytime soon, and TAT say they have had no tourist complaints regarding tuk-tuks (they obviously don't read tourist-oriented media or blogs).

Posted by Treelover on December 30, 2009 06:50


Unless Thais start to object to the corruption that is destroying Phuket, change is unlikely. Tourists don't count, unless their complaints go to diplomats at embassies in Bangkok Pressure for change has to come from the top. Expect more violence, and fewer tourists, as the crazy local economy of the island, based on selfishness and greed, goes into a spiral. Instead of signing a useless petition, call your ambassador. Make your opinion count.

Posted by Angelfire on December 30, 2009 07:48


This is a local endemic problem, not one that can be solved by ambassadors of other countries. They can make some noise and complain too, but this has to be solved at the grass roots level. I see no harm of a petition to our local govenor signed by local people and tourists alike.
There is already a petition to the Phuket Govenor running now. Please do your bit to try to save what is left of Phuket.

Editor: It's an international problem, not a local one, because tourists from many countries are the innocent victims. Jet-ski insurance was introduced on Phuket not because of complaints to the TAT or an expat petition or 'Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand' but because an ambassador from an influential country (ie, one sending hundreds of thousands of tourists to Thailand) told the Deputy PM that the problem needed to be fixed. The Deputy PM told the Governor to fix it. Power works from the top down, not the bottom up. Tell your ambassador this problem needs fixing.

Posted by innocent bystander on December 30, 2009 10:51


The local Director of Transport seems to have summed up the problem: "A proper solution is a long way off," he said. "Trains and light rails are expensive and unlikely to be affordable at this stage."

So metered taxis and baht buses have already been taken out of consideration?

Posted by Treelover on December 30, 2009 11:47


Avoid Phuket like the plague !

Posted by SNIX on December 30, 2009 16:58


I think its about time the Police did a blitz on Tuktuk drivers, checking the vehicle for weapons and testing the drivers for Yah Bah (amphetamines)

Posted by Antz Pantz on December 30, 2009 17:16


The Director of Public Transport on Phuket, Kanok Siripanichkoon, said:-
''A proper solution is a long way off,'' he said. ''Trains and light rails are expensive and unlikely to be affordable at this stage.

Who says trains and light rails are needed? A basic local bus service connecting the beaches would suffice at this stage.

Ok heard the arguments that last time this was tried the driver was beaten up, but hey if the authorities have the will to sort it out it can be.

I think it will take some action from the top i.e. the PM but is he interested in protecting the tourism industry (he implied he was with the action taken on the main airport shoplifting scams)?????

Editor: Phuketwan has argued that if corruption can be controlled at Suvarnabhumi Airport, then the national government should try to make Phuket the first corruption-free province, then apply the lessons all over Thailand.

Posted by Philip on December 30, 2009 19:25


Is there any update as to whether or not the attacker is in police custody yet? I understand that the local police know who he is.

Posted by Simon Luttrell on December 31, 2009 07:39


It really is a never ending story,I'm going to Bali next trip and Penang the one after. I am giving Phuket a big miss!!

Posted by TerryEmu on December 31, 2009 08:23


Why does this problem keep happening? these tuk tuk drivers think they can do whatever they want. Somebody needs to stand up and sort it !

Posted by tony tibbs on December 31, 2009 11:07


I passed a tuktuk in Patong today carrying 9 people in the back! So much for them bleating when they blockaded the Centara Resort that if there are more than 4 people they have to use another tuktuk.

Posted by Rex on December 31, 2009 20:16


I'm not at all surprised.. Last year a girl got beaten up on the same parking lot. A police report was done, but nothing more happened as she feared for her life...

She parked her car, and when she returned the tyres where flat, and these "men" attacked her meanwhile they where spitting at her... That's what you call gentlemen, and welcome to the lands of smiles....

Do hope something will happen, as we residents might stay because of our business, but the tourists will disappear - and then we will go as well........

Posted by Anonymous on January 1, 2010 11:52


No one can compare these people to normal Thai people.But don't you think its time that the honest people of Phuket also did something to stop all this and protect their beautiful island???

Posted by elizabeth on January 2, 2010 12:37


We lived in Kata Noi and after seven years in Phuket have left Thailand for many, many reasons for good. We are now in a small artsy-fartsy (not a resort) town in Mexico and LOVE it here. Proper taxis, frequent and varied bus service, PARKING, genuinely friendly people...and no humidity, no double-pricing, no "where you go?". Need we say more? We will NEVER return and will NEVER recommend Phuket.

Posted by Ex-Phuketian on January 2, 2010 20:38


No one who lives here has any doubt that the authorities will be unable to locate the thug who attacked the tourist family. Once the family leaves the island, he will be back on the job at the taxi stand as usual. If we had a photo of him we could confirm the event.

Posted by Treelover on January 3, 2010 13:41


Enough is enough .Phuket is becoming the laughing stock of international tourists.

Posted by Graham on January 3, 2010 15:53


I do hope that these people complain to the French Ambassador to Thailand, and at to the French government once home . If everyone makes themselves heard, maybe some good can come out of this!

Posted by elizabeth on January 4, 2010 15:45


All those onlookers and no one had a video of the incident?

Posted by MIKEY on January 5, 2010 00:18

Wednesday March 29, 2023
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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