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Tourists, touts and tuk-tuks flourish on Patong's streets

Phuket's Touts and Mafia: Probe Told of Illegal Payments

Friday, May 20, 2011
Phuketwan Special Report

TIMESHARE and tailor touts who harass tourists on Phuket's streets are nearly all illegal, a special probe ordered by the Prime Minister into Phuket's tourism troubles was told yesterday.

Told to ''fix Phuket'' by the PM, Deputy Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of the Interior, Prania Suwanrath, heard testimony from Phuket business leaders and administrators yesterday for almost four hours.

It's the first time top-level government investigators have come to Phuket to hear what residents have to say about corruption and the damage being done to Phuket tourism.

Phuket's media has been asked not to identify the people who spoke at yesterday's long session.

Phuket's Khun D told the meeting at Provincial Hall in Phuket City:

''If you go to Patong, behind the long lines of parked tuk-tuks you will find touts on the footpaths. They pursue the tourists without letting up, trying to sell CDs, movies, souvenirs, tailored suits, timeshare . . . all kinds of products.

''Some of these people have work permits but these are jobs for Thais and there is no explanation for how they get these permits. But we know.

''The first work permit for someone to obtain will cost the applicant 50,000 baht in an under-the-table payment. Renewals will cost 30,000 baht.

''Three big companies are able to obtain work permits for these people.

''The Labor Office doesn't realise how this affects Phuket's tourism industry so badly. Some of these touts have been known to be very rude, and even to beat up tourists who complain.

''Is this the image that Phuket wants? It happens all the time, almost every day, in Patong, Kata-Karon, and even in Surin.''

On the topic of expat mafia, Phuket's Khun D said that almost each nationality on Phuket had their own ''mini-mafia,'' but they were mostly scared of high-ranking people in uniform.

''Foreigner bars have foreigners working in them all along the Phuket west coast. Most of them don't have work permits, or if they do have work permits, they have been illegally obtained.

''Russia, Italy, Spain, India . . . all these countries have 'mafia' here. But the real mafia is the mafia in uniform.''

Khun Prania and his team were visiting Patong today. What the investigators have been told about Phuket will be reported to the Prime Minister next week. Khun Prania said his plan is to keep coming to Phuket until Phuket is ''fixed.''

A barrage of complaints from tourists, directed through honorary consuls and ambassadors to senior government ministers and PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, has led to Bangkok intervention to resolve Phuket's problems.

Another major investigation by officers from the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission recently questioned people on Phuket over several days and could eventually result in prosecutions.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Thumbs up! Well, hopefully! As for attitudes etc, the rudeness of the stallholders in the 'bazaar' half a block south of Jungceylon is something I have never before encountered in the 15/16 years I have been regularly visiting Phuket.

Posted by rfdunedin on May 20, 2011 10:40

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I can remember about 15 odd years back there was a lot of problems with the Paki,Indian and Nepalese touts bothering the tourists along the beach road. One immigration officer [not from patong] with a pair of balls flung a load of these touts in to a pickup and took them off to get their heads shaved informing them if I have any reports about bald touts bothering any tourists I'll be back for a couple of you lot,done the trick for a while. They need to have a trawl through patong and clear out these people they are cheeky, pushy and give nothing back to phuket. they only take and leave.

Posted by Scunner on May 20, 2011 21:20

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"Foreigner bars have foreigners working in them all along the Phuket west coast. Most of them don't have work permits, or if they do have work permits, they have been illegally obtained"..

This isn't proved yet, cause, personally, the only rare case I know, farangs has legal work permits. For police would be too easy to catch them (like in Rawai some months ago)..

Posted by Dave on May 21, 2011 09:53

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Please include the aggressive and annoying illegal taxi touts INSIDE the airport. How is it they are allowed to harass arriving travelers?

Posted by MediaWatcher on May 21, 2011 11:03


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