PHUKET: Senior national police joined a top-level meeting on Phuket today as action began to end rip-offs and scams and restore Phuket's reputation.
The ''Phuket Model'' will not only obliterate the rip-offs and scams that have plagued Phuket tourism but also serve when the time comes to clean up Pattaya, Samui and Bangkok, Phuket business leaders were told today.
''We are here to end the mafia's influence on Phuket,'' said Thailand's second most highly ranked policeman, Deputy Police Chief Lieutenant General Pansiri Prapawat.
The murder of Australian travel agent Michelle Smith on Phuket may have been random and coincidental but it appears to have been the last straw for Phuket's would-be reformers.
In the wake of the savage killing by would-be bag snatchers on June 20, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has ordered police to fix Thailand tourism's reputation.
Today at Provincial Hall in Phuket City, Phuket business leaders looked on as the largest assembly of police leaders Phuket has seen gathered to keep the PM's promise.
Represented at today's historic Phuket summit were not just police superintendents and commanders from Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi and neighboring provinces, but from every province in Thailand with a connection to tourism.
The meeting is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of continuous pressure for change from tourists who made complaints to honorary consuls and to embassies.
Ambassadors from Europe, Australia, the US and China have persuaded Mrs Shinawatra and her government to end the corruption and make Thai tourism clean again.
First in line for action, it is believed, will be Phuket's jet-skis, where scams have continued despite one local authority claiming that an insurance scheme has solved the problem.
Phuket tuk-tuk drivers with a reputation for thuggery and hidden weapons are likely to be next.
The vast number of illegal taxis on Phuket, where high fares are demanded out of proportion to distances, now seem certain to be turned into a modern, effective network eventually.
Deputy national Police Chief Lieutenant General Pansiri chaired today's meeting.
Phuket Police Commander Major General Chonsit Wadhnawarangkun was there, with police chiefs from Bangkok, Surat Thani, Chiang Mai and Pattaya.
Lieutenant General Pansiri and other police chiefs are to meet the PM on Friday to bring her up-to-date on progress, the meeting was told.
Phuket's Deputy Land Transport Director, Wanta Pumararoskon, said that deadlines had been set for Phuket's illegal taxis to be registered, beginning at the Central Festival shopping mall's cab rank at 2pm today.
A deadline has been set of 2pm on Friday when illegal ''black'' taxis based in Thalang can register, followed by a July 11 deadline for taxis in Patong and the surrounding Kathu district.