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Canadian Ivan Anwar at the scene of the altercation in Kalim

Update: Tourist Fined, Then Flies off Phuket

Thursday, January 7, 2010
Phuketwan UPDATE

CANADIAN tourist Ivan Anwar was fined 1000 baht for being impolite and freed in time to catch a 2pm flight out of Phuket today.

Original Report

THE CASE of the Canadian tourist and the tuk-tuk driver took a sharp bend today with countercharges being laid against the tourist.

Canadian Ivan Anwar had his passport confiscated yesterday by Patong police and now must stay in Thailand to await a decision in the case.

The tuk-tuk driver, Tadsanarid Damtong, from Krabi, says he was kicked by Mr Anwar, who allegedly used bad language in a dispute over a 150 baht fare for a one-minute ride from Patong to Kalim.

Khun Tadsanarid also wants the 150 baht fare paid.

Mr Anwar had five stitches in a head wound he said was caused by Khun Tadsanarid punching him in the face five times on Tuesday.

Mr Anwar checked out of his Kalim resort this morning and may not be able to catch the flight he planned to take to Hong Kong today.

Lieutenant Jongserm Preecha of Kathu Police Station in Patong said today that the tuk-tuk involved in the incident remains at the station and will not be returned until the case is over.

Mr Anwar and his wife came to the police station this morning, Lieutenant Jongserm said.

He said he told Mr Anwar that if he pleaded guilty and paid a fine, he would not need to stay on Phuket for what could be a drawn-out court case with an uncertain outcome.

The Anwars were discussing what to do next and would return to the station later today, Lieutenant Jongserm said.

Khun Tadsanarid was bailed for 40,000 baht yesterday morning in an application at Phuket Criminal Court, and immediately went to Patong and asked police to lay a charge against Mr Anwar.

The owner of the tuk-tuk, Natdanai Chaowana, told Phuketwan today that he believes Khun Tadsanarid should have been allowed bail in the first place.

Patong police initially held Khun Tadsanarid without bail because the Governor, Wichai Praisa-ngob, had asked that no bail be permitted.

Khun Natdanai said: ''This will be a long story unless the police can explain why they did not grant bail immediately, and why they have to hold the tuk-tuk at the police station.''

He also said he was not happy that police on Tuesday, the day of the incident, would not accept Khun Tadsanarid's version of events and lay a countercharge against Mr Anwar.

Officials at the Canadian embassy in Bangkok were attempting to gather more information today after a call from Phuketwan seeking a comment on the case.

International publicity was given last year to cases on Phuket involving two tourists, Australian Annice Smoel and Briton Simon Burrowes.

In separate incidents, Ms Smoel and Mr Burrowes both ended up pleading guilty to minor offences so they could have their passports returned.

Ms Smoel, who had her small fine paid by the governor, subsequently found that her conviction prevented her from travelling to Disneyland in the US with her children.

Mr Burrowes, who had to stay on the island for an extra three months, lost his flight fare, his job and his apartment in Britain during that time. His penalty on the island was smaller: a 1000 baht fine, reduced to 500 baht, for insulting an airport official.

Phuketwan has urged the adoption of a system of mediation, as advocated by the Phuket Chief Justice, that would enable tourists embroiled in altercations of this nature to leave without suffering unfair and disproportionate penalties as a consequence.

The damage to Phuket's reputation as a safe and hospitable destination grows worse with every international incident.

The Anwar case has highlighted the excessive fares charged by tuk-tuk and accellerated calls for the introduction of a proper low-cost public transport system on Phuket.

It's the second report of violence involving tourists and tuk-tuk drivers within days. A French tourist had his arm broken in a dispute over a car parking space in Karon, south of Patong, on December 26.

The Frenchman, who lives in South Africa where he works as a window-cleaner, preferred not to have his name published because of concerns about repercussions for members of his family, who live on Phuket.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


"He said he told Mr Anwar that if he pleaded guilty and paid a fine, he would not need to stay on Phuket for what could be a drawn-out court case with an uncertain outcome."

An absolute outrage! All this hapless tourist wanted was quick ride up the road at a reasonable price. Now he has been injured, scarred, had his holiday ruined, and is in the process of being victimized.

Every foreign embassy needs to immediately issue a travel warning about Phuket tuk-tuks. This place is out of control. . .

Posted by Treelover on January 7, 2010 13:11


I feel very sorry for you Mr Anwar.
Its clear the counter claims are out of spite. Did he even have a mark to prove there was a kick?

Posted by Common Sense on January 7, 2010 15:15


This is exactly why tourism in phuket is on the slide. Is the tuk tuk driver back working? Let's hope phuketwan keeps us updated on the punishment this tuk tuk driver recieves if Anwar was fined 1000 baht, let's see what the tuk tuk gets for inflicting a wound that required stitches.

Posted by Dale'y on January 7, 2010 15:31


Plead guilty and drop assault charges against the driver or stay for months waiting for a court appearence in Thailand. The tuk tuk people knows exactly how to play the cards.

Editor: There's no suggestion that the charges against the driver have been dropped. The case involving the tourist was expedited so he could fly out quickly. (An improvement on previous cases). We are not certain in this case whether the conviction goes on his criminal record and therefore affects his capacity to enter some countries. Mediation might be fairer.

Posted by David on January 7, 2010 15:54


Since when has it been an offence in Thailand to be 'impolite'? Perhaps this same rule of law can be applied against 'impolite' tuk-tuk and taxi drivers in Phuket?

Posted by Simon Luttrell on January 7, 2010 16:21


You go to police in Phuket after you were beaten up, you end up being the criminal.

After a car on car accident I was asked to plead guilty, if I want to catch my plane. Paid "damages" of 25.000 Baht to the other Thai guy who rammed me in my driver door. You just do not have the time to get a fair verdict. That was unfortunate, but ok. There was an accident and it had to be settled. Only I needed it fast, so it costed.

But the case of Mr. Anwar is an outrage. You can see it in every country

But still, a 51 year old Canadian English teacher from Japan got beaten up by two persons and in the end he had to pay a fine for being impolite. Beating up teachers seems to be a nice business idea.

Bye Phuket.

Posted by Lena on January 7, 2010 17:58


Can someone tell me if Mr Anwar pleading guilty will help the Tuk-tuk driver if and when his case comes to court?

Maybe we will have to wait until this happens to an expat for us to get real justice (ie someone who has the time to see the case through and not just plead guilty so he can leave the country).

Posted by Chris on January 7, 2010 18:23


Ivan Anwar, we won't forget you. The problem is all over Phuket, not just in Patong and Karon. Here's an email about a taxi experience today:

My car was being worked on and I decided to do some shopping while I waited for it to be finished so I took a motorbike taxi to Tesco Lotus from the shop on Maeluan Road for 50 baht.

After Lotus I had to go to Central Festival to meet someone, so I decided to take a taxi since it was raining and I had bags of groceries to carry. Fare for the ride? 200 baht!!!!!!

Took less than five minutes and the unfriendly driver dropped me off at the side of bypass road; wouldn't even drive in to the covered entrance area even tho it was pouring rain! (I assume because he'd be seen to be invading the Central taxi territory...)

Anyway, I decided not to kick him in light of recent articles! I really pity the tourists if this is what they have to contend with.

A bypass road bus shuttle connecting the shopping centres would be ideal, but I highly doubt we'll see this initiative any time soon!

Posted by Angelfire on January 7, 2010 19:15


@Chris: Sure it will help him. Now he can claim, that he was provoked and was losing face in public. And the proof is, that Mr. Anwar pleaded guilty to that charge. Witnesses gone home also not too good.

Most likely he will be fined, if he is unlucky.

The boss of the tuktuk group in Patong deserves the kudos he will get for getting his man out so wisely.

This Anwar guy really got the big package. Bruised by the tuktuk driver and humiliated by the proper police conduct. The next person beaten up will think twice before contacting the police.

When I hear, he should have not tried to renegotiate after seeing the ridiculous charging, I really wonder where these people live. Getting a bad steak and you still pay in full? You never complained and got a discount on anything? Or is it only, because tuktuk is dangerous by nature?

I forget in my anger, how many wonderful people do also live in Phuket, how many genuine smiles, the great food for good prices, the integrity of these little vendors, even the helpful Thai, who jumpstarted the Fortuner, after I killed the battery leaving the lights on in Big C . . . and on and on.

Posted by Lena on January 7, 2010 20:22


It's about time for a concerted effort to urge tour companies and travelers to boycott Thailand.

Editor: The vast majority of visitors to Thailand have a great time, and there is no good reason for them not to continue to come. If major change does arrive, it should be gradual and sensibly implemented. Finding new jobs for 1000 breadwinners represents a challenge. Calls for 'bans' and 'boycotts' are not realistic and unfair to Thailand.

Posted by ChrisTH on January 8, 2010 08:53


Actually, calling for a boycott might, just might, be the only thing that could kick the government into doing something. Unfair to Thailand? The people of country, political leaders, average thais and policemen alike, need to learn that this kind of behaviour is unaccepted. As long as the general population in Thailand ignores the problem they are not to be felt sorry for AT ALL!

Editor: Think about it . . ..a boycott would hurt thousands of innocent people whose future depends on the tourism industry. Do expats really want to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering? The proper course of action is to report genuine grievances with ambassadors and embassies. The worst possible result is for the Government of Thailand to gain the impression that the expat community is filled with self-interested people who are not concerned about consequences to others. Doesn't that make expats no better than tuk-tuk drivers?

Posted by christos on January 8, 2010 09:49


Another thing, not accepting that your compatriots get beaten in the streets, that the police charges the victims as THEY were the criminals seems like A VERY "good reason" NOT to continue come..Or do you suggest that people have to get beaten up themselves before having a good reason not to come?

Editor: Arms get broken and noses punched in every part of the world, every day. Australia is currently investigating the apparent murders of two Indian students. Nobody outside of India is suggesting a boycott on visits to Australia. ''Compatriots''? The minute you venture into Us and Them territory, your arguments evaporate.

Posted by christos on January 8, 2010 10:07


Regarding "compatriots": So, if, as a Canadian in this case, I get upset that Canadians get threatened, beaten and/or cheated, and that that influences my decision as to where I will go on vacation next time, I am somehow unreasonable? Or maybe even xenophobic in Phuketwan's view?

Editor: It's about any victim being a human being first, a tourist second, and a citizen of any particular nation third. The two recent cases have highlighted a long-standing issue that needs to be fixed, for sound economic reasons. Yes, ignoring Phuket's multitude of good points and advising everyone to go elsewhere would be unreasonable. The aim is to improve the island, not destroy it.

Posted by christos on January 8, 2010 10:32


I have been boycotting tuk-tuks for years and I encourage others to do the same.

Maybe we should try a Thai style protest and setup canopies in the middle of Patong's beach road blocking traffic. BYOB bring your own beer or bulletproof vest.

What I want is the elimination of all save maybe a few tuk-tuks that are fairly regulated. Remember these are cheap vehicles, unsafe as opposed to a regular car/taxi and have uncomfortable seats as well as no air conditioning and many have unreasonably loud sound systems. I say rates should be less or the same as Bangkok taxis. Even if they cut the rates in half they would be overpriced!

Pattaya's transport system seems to work quite well.

Some people say, what about the unemployed tuk-tuk drivers? They have been taking advantage of people far too long. Call them victims of the recession.

In these times we have to demand value for our money, we always want value for our money, just like this unfortunate Canadian tourist did. So the driver says 150B. Mr. Anwar says OK not knowing where or how far it was that he was going. He then gets in hoping or expecting to be getting a fair deal. After a one minute ride he realizes he is being taken advantage of and protests then offers 100B. Still more than enough for a one minute ride! He did not deserve what he got. 2000B at the hospital, 1000B fine, the indignity of having to plead guilty so he could go home and there may be issues for future travels or even his job by pleading guilty to a crime in another country.

Does anyone really believe Mr. Anwar started the fight by kicking first? I don't. The hotel staff came to his aid because he was the victim. This is an outrage!

YES! Protest, boycott, warn tourist not to use tuk-tuks. They have squandered their opportunity to provide a quality reasonably priced service. It is time for a change.

Also, good on the Governor for stepping up. He had to step back a bit but I hope that does not dissuade him addressing this issue in the future.

Also, good on Phuket Wan for addressing this issue as well.

Let's keep talking about this not ignoring it. Talk can lead to action. I know I have more I could say, enough for now though. Enough is enough!

Posted by Cuz on January 8, 2010 12:45


Dear Editor I have been asking about thai justice since jet ski jj was arrested yet you don't post my threads it is a simple question not a slur yet you keep banning my post on this matter.

Editor: My understanding is that the same key issue still cloud the case: was the footage that constituted the evidence against JJ genuine, or playacting? When we last inquired, the matter was still in the hands of a prosecutor. As soon as we hear something, we will let you know. Full marks for persevering!

Posted by Dale'y on January 8, 2010 16:13


I'm very dissapointed that several of my comments, where I reply to the Editor has been ignored or censored. I have not used any bad language or stepped out of line in ant way. It seems the Editor is censoring me because I don't share his views, and that he can't take a decent back and forth debate. Maybe the Editor has been so influenced by the local culture as to not being able to handle direct criticism?

Editor: We've taken plenty of direct criticism and we are always happy to debate points at issue. You sent seven messages straight. We don't think your views are as valid to other readers as you do. This is a news and information site where we encourage responses to articles. We don't encourage debate hijacking or people who monopolise the conversation. Your final sentence is a questionable remark, and one that was typical of the comments we canned.

Posted by christos on January 8, 2010 18:05


Well facebook now has a group so how about joining

Editor: Is there a version in Thai designed for Phuket residents and voters? Or is it just for people who can read English? If it uses the word ''ban'' or the word ''boycott,'' then I'm afraid I don't see it as being constructive. Having a group on facebook . . . hmm. Wonderful.

Posted by Nick on January 9, 2010 15:53


With the google tool bar you can translate any page into Thai

Editor: Sure, but if you want to achieve change, you will need the support of Thais. Voters count. And if the petition mentions a ban or a boycott, then it could be seen as divisive, and not in Thailand's best interests.

Posted by Nick on January 9, 2010 16:40


I don't care about what is good for Thailand, I've been screwed over one too many times and it's about time it gets just rewards . . .

Editor: Thanks ''Malaysia''. If it's revenge you seek, go take it out on some other site. When you find something to add towards explaining issues or finding solutions, we'd be delighted to hear from you. We're not interested in spreading hatred and contempt here.

Posted by Malaysia on January 10, 2010 09:14


Just to put the Tuk Tuk and Airport Taxi charges in perspective. A Singapore Taxi costs the equivalent of between 65 and 70 Baht for the first kilometre. A 12 km run will cost 215 baht. After midnight there is a 50 percent surcharge. There is a 35 percent surcharge for peak morning and early evening hours. The Airport surcharge is 70 baht weekdays and 115 baht weekends. Kuala Lumpur Airport is 50km from the city but a standard aircon taxi only costs 610 baht. Whatever way you look at it, Phuket transport is the most costly in the immediate region.

Posted by JohnB on January 10, 2010 10:04


If Mr Anwar agreed a price of 150 baht, he should have paid it.Then, don't use tuk tuks again. I stopped coming to Phuket in 2005, mainly because Phuket`s become a 'rip off' tourist destination.

In Chiang Mai, I can get a tuk tuk from anywhere in the city to anywhere for no more than 60 baht.....

Posted by Fred on January 10, 2010 23:45


it is quite common in Thailand to (counter) charges if the guilty (Thai) party finds out that you have to leave soon, ONLY an admission of "guilt" from your part will allow you to leave Thailand. Al the embassies know this but they will not react.

Posted by Anonymous on January 13, 2010 20:17


While on my stay in Phuket this Christmas season 2009-2010, myself and my wife were pulled over by the police for not wearing our helmets, Ok, understandable, no problem with that as we were in the wrong.

But the fact that natives of the country were merrily driving past us without helmets on just shows the extend of the blatant disrespect for the tourist community and proper policing, once at the police station there was a queue of more than 20 other tourist waiting in line for some or other problem. No locals at all.

The police will take your license, credit card??, or even your wife (as one chap had to do) as collateral until you return with the receipt from the station for payment.

While inside the police station, the officer filled in two fines, now the first book had triplicate pages, so you received the white page, in the other book he only filled in the back two pages, nothing on the front white page. You then have to sign both books. Now if I'm not mistaken there is a little under the table dealing going on here, why fill in both books?

I would seriously warn people of being very careful of going there, if they ever do.

Posted by Wayne on January 16, 2010 13:05


I am a regular visitor to Thailand of 20 years. I very rarely take tuk tuks in Phuket anf rarely take the 'baht-bus' in Pattaya - I either walk or hire a motor bike. Reason being that in my first 2 or 3 years in Thailand I encountered a few aggressive (borderline violent) drivers - the aggression/violence happened when i questioned (but did not refused to pay) a high fare - I've had the firm belief for about 18 years that some of these drivers have it in for tourists. Otherwise I really enjoy Thailand. note: i dont fully blame the aggressive drivers for being anti-Westerner; what with the discourtesy and disrespect they have to put up with from Westerners. - my two cents.

Posted by Graemeb on January 17, 2010 11:50

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