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Minister for Tourism Somsak Pureesrisak visits Patong today

Phuket Tuk-Tuk Driver Punches Russian Tourist in Patong, Pays Hospital Costs

Monday, October 14, 2013
PHUKET: A Russian man who was punched in the face in a dispute with a tuk-tuk driver in Patong last night required hospital treatment, Phuketwan has learned.

Lieutenant Colonel Pattapee Srichai of Kathu Police Station, which oversees Patong, confirmed the incident today.

''The matter was settled in mediation so there was no need for police to formally record the matter or take any action,'' he said.

Fines for minor assaults are usually about 500 baht.

Phuketwan understands that the tuk-tuk driver paid 2000 baht to cover the cost of the treatment of the Russian man at Patong Hospital.

The incident came as Phuket Governor Maitree Intrusud and Phuket's new Commander of Police, Major General Ongart Phiewruangnon, went to Patong and strolled around the walking street in Soi Bangla.

Their visit was designed to promote the improved safety and security of tourists during Phuket's high season, which begins on November 1.

A Patong ''Safety Zone'' that included better security camera coverage and a network of community activists began last year.

Major incidents are rare but occasional punches, thefts by ladyboy pickpockets and petty disputes remain regular occurrences in Patong.

Later today the Minister for Tourism and Sport, Somsak Pureesrisak, who began a ''clean up campaign'' in August to rid Phuket of tourist-related scams and to end the island's taxi and tuk-tuk problems, is giving a public speech on Phuket about the campaign's progress.

Comments

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Paying for damages or medical treatment should not release anyone from criminal liability.

"Mediations" like this just establish the price list on how much it costs should you wish to punch a tourist in the face.

That is NOT what a "Safety Zone" should be about.

Police should be excluded from any mediations for reasons of obvious bias.

Posted by ThaiMike on October 14, 2013 10:20

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Another "incident" swept under the carpet. This does not make Phuket safer or improve its already tarnished image. Crime and assault/battery figures are not to be believe when, as this case shows, the matter is settled through mediation, and therefore NO recorded. The police should charge the tuk tuk driver and the victim then becomes a witness. The police seem too lazy to do they job correctly, yes I know some will argue mediation is their job, but this does not deter the violence we see.

Posted by DSI Watcher on October 14, 2013 10:39

Editor Comment:

What violence have you seen, DSI Watcher?
Or perhaps, as someone who has expressed the intention of committing a crime to settle a personal dispute, your outlook is based entirely on self-interest - just like a tuk-tuk driver?

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"Another "incident" swept under the carpet."

Happened last night and is in the news now, how is this swept under the carpet?

Posted by stevenl on October 14, 2013 10:52

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Bravado last week in PW said 'taxi' drivers have 9 lives. Does this 'driver' now have 8 lives? Oh there was no formal record. Violence is ubiquitous here. It starts in schools where 'teachers' cane students, quite illegally. Taxi mafia has a culture of violence and intimidation, reported many times on PW. Yet the BIB continue to allow this third world behavior to go unpunished. Say whatever remark you choose Ed, your comments are derisory, ignorant and hypocritical. This 'taxi' driver is a tourism representative and should be banned.

Posted by gee on October 14, 2013 11:14

Editor Comment:

You seem confused, gee, as usual. The taxi diver jailed after his ninth offence was in Bangkok. The example was used in warning Phuket drivers that patience eventually wears thin with those who continue to breach the laws. PW has never supported violence, in any form. A ''culture of violence'' is more easily found in most cities in the developed world after dark than anywhere in Thailand. Readers are capable of judging for themselves which comments are ''derisory, ignorant and hypocritical.''

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It was for some time ago decided that police should do more of an effort in solving cases by mediation to relieve the Courts of a growing number of cases. This includes only minor offences where the accused would not have a chance of going to prison if the the case went to Court. To make this system a lot more transparent I suggest that the Justice ministry make a leaflet as a guideline to what kind of offences that should go to Court, what the likely penalties are and the same for minor offences, size of fines etc. This leaflet should be handed out to people getting in contact with the police as part of a case so that they are able to take a qualified decision (and understand) why a case can be solved by mediation and why not.
It should also be made clear that for cases solved in mediation then the culprit is left with a clean slate in the police register and he-she can go out and punch the next person in the face and walk free once again.

Posted by Sailor on October 14, 2013 11:16

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I have a hard time with the quote " there was no need for police to formally record the matter". If he does it again, it will look like a first offence, hence no deterrent at all.

Posted by Harvey on October 14, 2013 12:00

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The circumstances of the incident are not published so one cannot draw a conclusion. For all anyone knows, the customer may have been rude and threatening. Of greater concern is the fact that the incident is not recorded and the implicated driver free to continue his activity. Had the driver been defending himself, I could understand. However, in absence of the mitigating factors I do have to question the local officials wisdom of allowing this driver to continue to interact with tourists.

Posted by Ryan on October 14, 2013 12:33

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I totally agree with you ED. In the west common assault is prevalent. A guilty perp will be fined a % of their disposable income and for a first offence given a community order. The more serious offence of GBH carries a custodial sentence. The stark difference is CCTV works and a police officer has a remit to enforce the law - not negotiate with criminals, profit from their activities or direct traffic.

Posted by gee on October 14, 2013 13:29

Editor Comment:

Serious offences also carry stiff penalties in Thailand, gee, although exceptions seem to be made at times for expats on attempted murder charges. I suspect that not all minor cases are pursued in the west, just as practical solutions are found in Thailand. Your regard for police in the west is touching. It just ain't so, gee. For example, British police and pedophiles in high places . . . do you ignore anything that disproves your viewpoint?

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I have said it before but I feel safer in Phuket then I do walking down the entertainment strip in Darwin at night. A culture of violence, please do not make me laugh. There is more violence every night in Darwin, a town city of just 30,000 people than you see in a month on Phuket.

Posted by Arthur on October 14, 2013 13:31

Editor Comment:

Indeed. And those free from superiority complexes can see that. It's the intimidation that is the problem.

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many people seems to have colored glasses here.. cant help myself stop smiling tho this just help the case solving the Tuk Tuk problems. this even show how stupid one can be to put gasoline on an open fire... thank u mr Tuk Tuk driver to help pointing the spotlight right at u and u fellow friends... Lol...

Posted by Frog on October 14, 2013 14:19

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Absolutely agree with Thai Mike.
I saw many comments about Darwin before. It seems that this is the most unsafe place in the world. But is it worldknown and popular tourist holiday destination as Phuket? I don't think so. Please, let compare Phuket with something else. Results? Quite predictable.

Posted by Stranger on October 14, 2013 14:58

Editor Comment:

We compared Phuket with the more sedate Australian city of Perth recently and Phuket is a far safer city - provided you don't swim or ride a motorcycle. Away from parts of Patong and other pockets of drug-infused chaos, the island is perfectly safe. Look for trouble and you will find it.

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I don't intend to discuss Darwin or Perth, as Ed always has the last word, however, this story is about Patong, a very small town with a very large criminal element, that includes corruption. I don't pretend to have been in ever city, in the world, the ones I have been in do not have such aggressive, violent cowardly taxi/tuk tuk drivers, it serves no purpose to compare Phuket/Patong with any other city. We need to stop the problems here, it is Phuket that will suffer, not Darwin... not Perth...not London etc. It is best if we ALL focus on the local, not global, issue. By trying to push the focus somewhere else you act the same as many authorities here, deny deny deny. These problems should be highlighted and thrown in the face of the local and national authorities time and time again, otherwise change will be a long way off, as we have all see from past experience.

Posted by DSI Watcher on October 14, 2013 15:54

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Looking at official crime statistics around the world Phuket will certainly not top the list.

However at least to a certain degree it is down to the unwillingness of the local police to register and file complaints but instead "mediate".

Something Phuket Police admits to right in this article.

How many such crimes go unreported is anyone's guess but it is something worth considering when making comparisons to places like Perth or Darwin.

What makes Phuket virtually unique though is the utter unwillingness of the Police to investigate crimes when the victim is a foreigner and the suspect a Thai. A sentiment alarmingly many locals share.

You are in an environment where defending a foreigner against a Thai, regardless of guilt is often seen as tantamount to treason.

You can become a victim of crime just about anywhere in the world but only in a select few places are the odds so stacked against you when you try to seek justice.

There may be many statistically more dangerous places in Australia than Phuket is but I know when I call the police for help in Australia, they will help me immediately and without any bias whatsoever.

On Phuket when you call the police and don't speak Thai, they will just hang up. Ask a local to help and see how they react.

You are on your own here.

Posted by ThaiMike on October 14, 2013 16:07

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@Editor
I've already been at almost all popular holidays destinations around South East Asia. Nowhere else (even at many other places in Thailand) I saw so aggressive behavior of local drivers, txi/tuk-tuk drivers, jet ski operators and so on.
I speak not about looking for trouble or about their behavior in conflict, but about their normal day-to-day behavior. They're not all the same, but well-behaved are becoming exceptions here. Just my private feeling.

Posted by Stranger on October 14, 2013 18:06

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Without getting into a fight with anyone I would like to point out that that as far as I can find out Patong has a population of 14797. Now we all know that is just permanent residents.
However the number of police allocated by the Government is based, correct me if I am wrong, on this permanent population and not on the actual numbers of people in Patong eg tourists, backpackers etc.
Because of this I would suspect that police attempt to mediate any problems due to there lack of numbers and if they have to do an arrest it would mean far less police actually on the beat.
To improve police effectiveness on Phuket the Government must base police numbers on the actual number of people on the island and not on just the number of permanent residence.
To eliminate corruption among police they must also look at paying the police on a level consumate with thee job the Government wants them to do.
Sadly the old saw is correct, pay peanuts get monkeys.

Posted by Arthur on October 14, 2013 20:06

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@ Arthur

Your points are valid and as far as I know, the police allocation quota is also correct.

However when it comes to lack of resources as the reason for mediation, I beg to differ.

In cases where foreigners are accused of crimes against locals, an amazing armada of police are mobilized and every possible stone turned to find evidence.

Remember the Australian lady who stole a bar mat. Fair to say it was a trivial crime, yet no mediation took place but rather CCTV evidence was gathered to prove her guilt and she was jailed and hauled to the court, only to be deported.

Equally the French couple who were jailed together with their young child for illegal entry into Thailand and coerced to sign a false confession when it was in fact a mistake made by immigration and airport authorities. Mysteriously no CCTV footage could be found at the airport to prove their innocence either.

Remember Mr Trotnow beaten to coma by a pack of tuk-tuk drivers ? No CCTV footage was ever found and not a single witness could be located.

How about the false rape claim ? Police checked countless CCTV camera tapes and were finally able to establish her claims false and exonerate the wrongly accused Thai man.

I'm not in any way defending guilty foreigners but I am saying that when there's a will, there certainly are plenty of resources to investigate.

I have also had several personal experiences which only cement my opinion of the Phuket Police being strongly biased against foreigners in every feasible way I can think of.

Posted by ThaiMike on October 14, 2013 20:54

Editor Comment:

You're not getting it right, Thai Mike, and your prejudiced outlook won't be tolerated here. You must get your facts straight.

The so-called ''beer mat bandit'' admitted her theft and had her fine paid by the then governor. We were there. She served no jail time.

The French couple were victims of Phuket Immigration. A Phuket policeman tried to tell the Immigration officers they were doing the wrong thing, but was overruled. The couple and their child were never ''jailed.''

Stevie Bamford, who served time on Phuket for lying about being raped, returned to Australia and told a different story. The Australian honorary consul at the time was satisfied, having supported her initially, that she lied.

Your ''personal'' experiences appear to lead you to distort the truth.

We agree that administering justice is fraught with difficulty on Phuket, but the only bias we can be sure about is yours.

Distorting the truth so blatantly can't be tolerated. You are kidding yourself.

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As I already mentioned then mediation has been encouraged for quite some time in order to avoid overloading the Courts with small cases.... see the link and please note that the initiative earned the accolade of Phuketwan in 2009 for innovation of the year. http://phuketwan.com/tourism/phuket-first-mediation-police-station-12073/

Posted by Sailor on October 14, 2013 21:32

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- Ed

You are debating semantics.

The term "jail" or "jailed" is usually used to refer to being held by the police prior to a conviction by a court, after which if so sentenced, the person will be imprisoned.

Are you now saying none of those I mentioned were jailed, or if you wish, "locked up by the police " ?

I certainly do not intend to distort anything and if I've misunderstood the widely reported cases, then I stand corrected but please be specific about it and don't just play with the words.

The French couple were reported to have been arrested and not free to leave at the police station and further held for several hours at the court house in what was described to be a holding cell.

The Beer Mat lady was reported to have been held in a police station "cell" overnight and the Bt 1000 fine was handed down in court which she had to face. Reports said CCTV camera evidence was used to establish what had transpired at the Aussie Bar.

The fact that the rape claim was false or what Mr Cunningham thought of the lady was irrelevant to my point. It was all about the length of effort the police is willing to go to in order to prove a foreigner wrong.

They quoted countless different CCTV sources in establishing the rape claim to be false, which means they had visited a LOT of locations to find those tapes.

How many locations did they visit to try to find CCTV evidence to identify Mr Trotnows assailants ?

My point was and is that when there's a case to be made against a foreigner or to exonerate a Thai suspect, surprising police resources can be and are mobilized.

However when the opposite is true, of which Mr Trotnows brutal gang beating is a prime example of (and still unresolved) no attempts whatsoever appear to be made to find the Thai suspects.

My opinions are not based on prejudices but real life cases reported in Phuket media and through experiences in both my personal life and those of my friends.

If you call my conclusions biased, please educate me on where I got the facts wrong.

I read your response just fine and value your input but I did not see one fact there that I had wrong. Only you being stuck on the actual meaning of the word "jailed".

Posted by ThaiMike on October 14, 2013 21:56

Editor Comment:

I could quote just as many cases where the police have acted swiftly to bring Thai perpetrators to justice in cases where tourists have been victims.

In other words, your argument is total bullshit, based on your core falsehood . . . that Phuket police only react professionally when tourists cause problems.

Keep tossing up that lie and you won't be posted here again.

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I made it very clear this is my opinion and mine only. I quoted real life examples of why I think the way I think.

You claimed my facts were distorted but made no attempt to back it up when politely asked to.

I did not lie about anything. If anything, I left many damaging details about police action in these cases unmentioned.

Just because your opinion differs from mine doesn't mean yours is right and mine is, as you so eloquently put it, total bullshit.

If this compels you to ban me from commenting here, then so be it.

I stand by my opinion.

Posted by ThaiMike on October 14, 2013 23:21

Editor Comment:

As long as both of us agree your opinion is based on prejudice, Thai Mike, you're even free to agree with Feisty Farang's ''remember 99% of Thais think people from outside Thailand are ripe pickings to be ripped off.'' It's the same kind of repulsive self-delusion.

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DSI Watcher, well said.

Ed can't you hand it over to DSI Watcher, and move here to China. I bet you fit best in Chinese Gov. and will soon qualify for a higher rank.

Posted by Chinaman on October 14, 2013 23:24

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Ed, calling a person's argument "bullshit" and threatening to not post comments / opinions because you personally don't agree with them is pretty pathetic & doesn't exactly make you look like the most professional editor does it.
On the topic at hand however. In short, it is wholly unacceptable for a tuktuk driver to punch a man who may or may not have been a customer.
The fact that phuketwan reports that the tuktuk driver paid for victim's medical treatment would indicate that he was in the wrong.
The tuktuk driver's reputation is so low because it has been earned over a long time through many ill deeds against tourists and locals alike.

People are outraged, you seem to have a major beef with people voicing their discontent with their thuggish behaviour, some even through their own experiences. Why?

Posted by zetacarenta on October 15, 2013 05:09

Editor Comment:

Professional editors don't tolerate racism and prejudice, zetacarenta. Assuming that all tuk-tuk drivers are thugs or all Thais are rip-off merchants or all policemen are prejudiced is where some readers - like FF and Thai Mike - lose touch with reality. ''People are outraged . . . '' If minor incidents like this one in which the actual circumstances are not known cause outrage, then logic and perspective are something I clearly need to keep adding, for your benefit.


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