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Phuket resorts have yet to all join in supporting a new transport system

Reluctant Resorts Lack Courage in Phuket's Fight to Win Fair Taxi Fares

Monday, June 9, 2014
PHUKET: Some Phuket resorts have sided with bullying taxi drivers as the holiday island undergoes a public transport makeover that has broken the power of the ''untouchables,'' it was revealed today.

Managers at one large west coast resort even called a senior policeman in Bangkok last week and asked him to berate task force investigating chief Major General Praveen Pongsirin for pulling down a taxi shack. The Bangkok policeman made the call.

The resort mangement also called staff together and ordered them not to cooperate with police.

''Some Phuket resorts lack the courage or the faith to believe in ending the control that the taxi drivers have exerted for years using extortion and intimidation,'' Major General Praveen says.

''For more than three months, 13 officers in my team visited many resorts and talked to senior staff,'' he said. ''We were always dressed in civilian clothes.

''I was surprised at the lack of willpower at many resorts. There were managers who had little faith. At some resorts, we had to listen while the resort people told us for up to two hours why things couldn't change.''

He said there were also resorts that proved extremely helpful, including one where staff had receipts for corrupt payments. The receipts for extortionate money had been thoughtfully provided by the taxi drivers.

''I understand the sense of hopelessness among many resorts after so many years of bullying by the taxi drivers,'' Major General Praveen says. ''But change has come.

''It would be selfish and short-sighted not to want to be a part of the change. My advice would be, 'Don't think about your wallets for once.'''

A meeting is being held at the Kata-Karon municipal office at 4pm tomorrow. All resorts in the district are invited to send representatives.

A total of 96 arrests have been made among taxi and tuk-tuk drivers in the Kata-Karon region and 12 more people are being sought.

The task force is to move on to Phuket's Patong region as soon as the Kata-Karon case files are handed over to the Phuket Public Prosecutor.

Comments

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It would be very useful to know which resort goes to such lengths to put taxi drivers interests so far ahead of those of their customers.

I'm sure this would have a significant impact on their bookings and thus force either a change in their approach of force them out of business.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 9, 2014 11:50

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I'm sorry to say I have witnessed this today. On Friday I was delighted to see the taxi thugs having their salas pulled down in Rawai and Nai Harn areas. Today I have seen five that have simply been moved one or 2 feet and are now being reconstructed. I really hope the police have the determination to see this through to the bitter end.

Posted by Terry on June 9, 2014 12:34

Editor Comment:

Have you called the major general, Terry?

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I agree with the Editor, Terry - call the major general on 081 893 6083. He has good english, and very easy to talk to.

Posted by jimbo34 on June 9, 2014 14:54

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Name and Shame these resorts now.

Posted by christian on June 9, 2014 15:32

Editor Comment:

How odd that anonymous commenters are always extremely keen to name and shame everyone else. First, supply us with the names, christian. Then we'll make a decision, without being told what to do.

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Personally, I would say 2 things about these resort owners who won't do anything. 1) They are really scared and can't do anything because something bad may happen to their family. 2) They have a vested interest for them to be there. Such as their tea money maybe reduced if they go.

Posted by Tbs on June 9, 2014 17:41

Editor Comment:

A number of resorts are linked to the less-than-positive side of the taxi business, especially those that pay commission to have gullible tourists delivered to their door.

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It's a great thing that is happening but for the police to be "surprised" in some cases by the lack of support of resorts is a ridiculous thing for the police to say. The police have done nothing for long over 10 years. They have to earn the public's trust. For more than 10 years they have, essentially, ignored the public and now they are finally going to start doing their jobs they expect everyone to jump to attention and chip in. Be realistic. The police need to earn the trust of the public and deliver long term. Real change can only happen when it is in the society fabric, and that will take time.

Posted by Duncan on June 9, 2014 17:48

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Duncan, I can only concur and Tbs, what you say is absolutely true: I have many friends in their position and have witnessed tears of frustration from senior hotel staff unable to help the plight of their guests.

Posted by Sam Wilko on June 9, 2014 18:17

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I can't believe my eyes pn this evening: PaTong mayor announced "baht-bus" plan for PaTong town.
Hope these will be not just empty words, but backed with an action and results.

Posted by Sue on June 9, 2014 20:24

Editor Comment:

Yes, we told our readers yesterday that was going to happen:

''A low-cost transport system around Patong's one-way loop is ready to go and only needs the approval of the new mayor and local council to be put in place immediately, with a fare of 20 baht as an example, specialist Khun Jaturong said.''

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What fantastic news for all especially the tourists! A hop-on hop-off bus service in Patong for 20 baht.
As for any major hotels who do not back the changes that are taking place, they should be publicly castigated. Surely they realise what benefits a better press will bring to Phuket in the long term. They should be wholeheartedly backing the Major General in his efforts to implement a new culture of respect and accountability.
If all these changes materialise I may start to believe there is a God after all. Then again maybe not, considering what happens in Nigeria, Sudan, the Middle East and on our doorstep in Burma

Posted by Honesto on June 9, 2014 22:09

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I can't wait seeing this bath-bus driving around Patong.I will drive it all day long.
Yesterday, a group of mototaxis denied me a lift to a location a couple of hundred meters away : 40 bahts(normal fare), mai daiiii(cannot). 60 bahts or nothing.
Ok, nothing, and I walked to my destination.
I just hope ,this is not a pipe dream and there will be a follow-up.
For example, I haven't heard of the bus Patong-Airport for a long time. Does it still take passengers?

Posted by william on June 9, 2014 22:45

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Wow. I'm dazzled by the editor's comments that are so very true. Yes some resorts have a vested interest in preserving the corruption. These are not the hotels big and small who have made an effort to keep their areas clean, who give back to the island and who treat their staff responsibly. There are a great many hotels who have tried to make a difference and who have run a relatively clean operation. Often, they are branded with the international chains, but they do include some of the smaller Thai family operations. These are the hotels who try to take care of their guests, who have the environmentally responsible policies, who do not dump untreated sewage etc. Hopefully, once the transport issue is settled, the police and tax department can go back to some of the hotels who are vocal in their opposition and will have a closer look. The hospitality industry is an easy place to launder money and it is no secret that Phuket's criminal element have invested in guest houses, hotels, bars and nightclubs.

Posted by Ryan on June 10, 2014 08:00

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Wow! I never thought I would see this sort of change in Phuket. This is fantastic. The Baht bus is a great idea.

Posted by Doug on June 10, 2014 09:21

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they are still present in Rawai with booths on beach road and particularly encroachment on "family mart" parking where customers cannot park for shopping.

Posted by boris on June 10, 2014 09:42

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Drove over to Nai Harn this morning. the taxi hut had been broken up and left where it fell, right beside it the taxi drivers are building replacement.

Posted by john on June 10, 2014 11:49

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Plenty of reports that these Sala's are all being re-built now.

Posted by Ciaran on June 10, 2014 15:36

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Ryan said "The hospitality industry is an easy place to launder money and it is no secret that Phuket's criminal element have invested in guest houses, hotels, bars and nightclub(s)." Oh, that is so correct. Some of the most glam restaurants on the island (though certainly not all) are money laundering operations, or so I have been reliably informed.

Posted by Sam Wilko on June 10, 2014 16:56


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