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Dee and Glenn Dawson, doing their bit to end tourism terror

Phuket's Taxi Driver Bashing: How a Resort Responded to Tourism Terror

Sunday, September 11, 2011
PHUKET: Phuket's thuggish underbelly was exposed again this week in a shocking incident outside the five-star Cape Sienna Resort.

Phuket holidaymakers Dee and Glenn Dawson found themselves looking on, helpless, as their tour driver was beaten by a gang of local taxi drivers. Phuket police have yet to arrest the thugs.

The issue of continuing violence among local taxi and tuk-tuk drivers will be raised when Phuket hoteliers and resort management groups meet on Monday, first to discuss the issues assailing Phuket tourism, then with Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha.

Perhaps more clearly than most, the bashing outside a well-known five-star has highlighted the hold that the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers have over Phuket's resorts.

The Dawsons, who run a hotel of their own on the island of Lombok, near Bali, were aghast at the bashing, and at the reaction of the Cape Sienna management.

This is the version of events as told by Dee Dawson. It's enlightening because it explains more clearly than ever before how Phuket resorts have become victims of the tuk-tuk and taxi monopoly.

Dee Dawson writes: ''My version of events is probably a little more emotional than Glenn's. Glenn booked an internet tour, who had arranged our pick up. They were late so we rang the company, who asked us to walk down the road because the driver could not come to Cape Sienna.

''We were confused but complied, unfortunately we passed the 'taxi rank' outside the Andara [another five-star resort nearby] who asked us if we wanted a taxi and I replied: 'No, we have a driver'.

''This turned out to be a big mistake on my part because both groups were there to beat our driver. Shortly after we found our driver and got in. He was agitated but we could not understand him.

''He drove past Cape Sienna and then about 50 metres down the road, and did a u-turn heading back towards Cape Sienna. It was immediately outside Cape Sienna that our way was blocked by a car.

''A large guy walked to our car and turned off the ignition, then started shouting at the driver of our car. Within seconds this escalated when the thugs tried to pull him from the car, beating him around the head.

''They could not get him out so they held onto the door jam and kicked into his body, they wanted this guy dead.

''We started yelling for them to stop and I walked up to one and shouted at him, Glenn pulled me away and then when we were a few metres from them we started yelling and screaming at them.

''They turned and told us to F off. It was at that moment that the driver managed to turn on the ignition and lock his door, but before he managed to drive away a guy with a heavy iron bar smashed the windscreen.

''Thank god he was able to drive away. All this time the security guard from Cape Sienna remained in his chair, watching.

''We went up to reception [Cape Sienna has an elevator entry] and told the desk staff and she summoned the Duty Manager. He explained the 'taxi Mafia' and after speaking to the GM on the phone, I guess, offered us a day trip on them.

''That was ok, but on reflection I wonder whether they just wanted us out of the way because I kept insisting on calling the police. I was very upset and have never seen a beating like it.

''We went out for a few hours and returned and were treated as if nothing had happened. As for the GM he made no attempt to speak to us, so that evening I sent him a text message, and I still have the messages and I can quote verbatim.

''Me to him: Hi Mr Dreist, We are guests at Cape Sienna and need to let you know we had an incident in front of Sienna this morning were the 'taxi Mafia' attempted to murder our private driver and threatened us and we are leaving at 5am and concerned for our safety, we are room 4202.

''Him To me: Please don't worry as you have booked our limousine this incident was between the taxis from different destinations, as also explain in my letter about taxi system in Phuket which should be in your room. If a taxi from Kamala would try to pick up guests in Karon something similar might happen. It is very unfortunate that you were in the car and I hope that we provided you our car instead to help. we certainly will cooperate with the police when they investigate this incident. Best Regards Frank Dreist.

''Me to him: We have received no such letter from you although we are having dinner at Plum [a resort restaurant] at the moment, about to return to our room. We appreciate the use of your vehicle but we are disturbed that we are unable to organise a tour without being terrorised outside the hotel. Thank you for your reply.

''Him to me: The letter is usually in all guest rooms, just explaining how the taxi system work here. Unfortunately not everybody follows this creating incidents such as today's. Of course if also wish it would be a free system with taxi meters, but there isn't. The taxi driver who wanted to pick you up is also at fault as he not followed the 'rules' of the system and the greed on by them. I certainly hope the police will do something, as I truly feel sad and sorry for guests as you, who get involved in this and tourism in general but help and solution can only come from the government, our 'private' sectors hands are quite bound here. Hope you enjoy your dinner and wish that you otherwise had a good time with us.

''Me to Him: The driver was from a tour company and not a taxi. Thank you we did enjoy our stay but until you have removed those thugs from your hotel vicinity we cannot recommend your hotel. Best Regards Deidre & Glenn.

''We had no further contact with anyone from the Hotel after this. There was no letter in our room about Taxis or the Mafia. I was a little ruffled that he inferred that it was our independence got us into trouble. We did not follow the 'rules'. Anyway I certainly don't want to implicate him too much but I guess I felt he should have made contact with us first.

''As you know we live in Asia and the people of Indonesia are no angels, but next to these guys they are pussy-cats.''

This incident was publicised because of the courage of the guests, the driver and the tour manager. It's well-known on Phuket that most resorts have this problem.

Only when authorities properly regulate taxis and tuk-tuks and remove the large number of illegal operators will Phuket be safe and secure for tourists.

It should be pointed out that Cape Sienna is unfortunate in that similar incidents could have happened at any one of scores of Phuket resorts. Indeed, they probably have.
Phuket Needs Action Now, TAT Chief Tells All-Talk Committee
Latest Demure TAT regional chief Bangornrat Shinaprayoon tells a Phuket committee that it's time for people to do their jobs to solve the issues of jet-skis, tuk-tuks, taxis and touts.
Phuket Needs Action Now, TAT Chief Tells All-Talk Committee

Phuket Resorts Push for Problem-Solving
Latest Phuket resort management groups are to join Phuket's honorary consuls in pushing the new national government to solve Phuket's major tourism problems.
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Phuket Anger Mounts Over Taxi, Tuk-Tuk Lawless Violence
Latest A tour manager mounts campaign to enforce the law against Phuket's taxi and tuk-tuk drivers after a man is beaten for daring to defy their monopoly grip on Phuket's resort transport.
Phuket Anger Mounts Over Taxi, Tuk-Tuk Lawless Violence

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's Tuk-Tuk Gangs Respond With Violence and Create Fear
Latest Phuket faces a crisis of tourism confidence triggered by tuk-tuk gangs who have reacted to minor incidents with violence that now strikes fear into the hearts of decent Phuket people.
Phuket's Tuk-Tuk Gangs Respond With Violence and Create Fear


Comments have been disabled for this article.


We are having the same problems with the tour boats to pick up passengers from Phuket Beaches. Our boat is from Chalong Bay so, we can not pick-up by the sea our customers at Nai Harn, Kata, Karon, Patong, Kamala and so on...
2 years ago I was disembarking my customers at Patong Beach and a local folk came to me to say that I could not disembark customers in Patong Beach because my boat was from Chalong Bay. Then an argument came up and he showed me his hand-gun in his frontal pocket. Luckily, my son, who is a Thai Ranger saw that something was going wrong and came to help me by saying to that local mafia that I was his father and he was from Phuket as him. That person seeing my son in Ranger Fatigue changed his aggressive attitude and asked to pay 500 Baht to clear off the problem.
After the incident, I asked to my son what he talked about and he replied with a smile: I explained him that he may be back with his mates from his Thai Ranger Garrison.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on September 11, 2011 15:57


W-B when I had my luxury charter yacht, we had problems at Layan Beach with the eM people. They threatened my crew at gun point. Then a couple of months later, a friend of mine with his own boat had shots fired at his boat and at his friends who where sailing with him.
The police did nothing in my case, but did help rescue the terrified guests from the forest at Layan Beach, where they had taken refuge during the shooting.
That my friend, took place four years ago.
What's changed, well the Thai respect laws have just slipped away and now total eM laws apply.
Do as eM's say or die.
I closed my business early on this year.
Sum num naa Phuket.

Posted by Dun on September 11, 2011 17:05

Sunday June 26, 2022
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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