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Ambassador James Wise tells reporters about a weapons crackdown

Phuket Tuk-Tuks to be Seized in Crackdown on Phuket Weapons

Friday, June 29, 2012
PHUKET: Tuk-tuks could be confiscated as part of a crackdown on weapons on Phuket, the Australian Ambassador, James Wise, said after a top-level meeting on Phuket today.

Ambassador Wise said that Phuket authorities had backed the idea of confiscating knives, guns and other weapons in the aftermath of the knife-murder of travel agent and mother of three Michelle Smith on Phuket last week.

He said after talks with Vice Governor Dr Sommai Preechasin that the murder of Mrs Smith ''put a spotlight on the security of Phuket.''

''Tuk-tuk drivers quite often have weapons,'' he said. ''They shouldn't have weapons. They don't need weapons to drive a tuk-tuk.

''One way to stop tuk-tuk drivers having weapons would be not just to take the weapons from the tuk-tuk drivers but to take the tuk-tuk away as well.

''I think the weapons would soon be taken from the streets.''

Mr Wise talked with Dr Sommai for about 40 minutes behind closed doors. He said later that local authorities shared the concerns of envoys about security on Phuket.

''I and some of my ambassador colleagues had a meeting a few months ago in Bangkok with senior officials about some of the problems of Phuket and we will be having another meeting with senior officials scheduled for July 11.

''We will be conveying to the central government the strong wish of authorities here for strong support from the central authorities.''

Mrs Smith's murder triggered intervention by Thailand's most senior policemen who said they had a mandate from Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to clear scams and the rip-off mafia from the island, beginning with the jet-skis.

Phuketwan readers have also pointed out that knives, electric prods and other weapons are freely on sale in the steeets and shopping malls of Phuket.

Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradhacha, who would normally have met Mr Wise, was in Bangkok today. It is believed he was being briefed on plans for the police action.

Mr Wise said the murder of Mrs Smith had ''massive'' coverage in Australia but the overwhelming majority of Australians who came to visit Phuket had a trouble-free time.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Good one... "They don't need weapons to drive a tuk-tuk."


Posted by Jake on June 29, 2012 16:36


Interestingly there was just recently raids in Bangkok where a large no of weapons were found...same will be true in Phuket...I think also that there may be a few roadblocks to deal with in case Tuk Tuks are confiscated .

Posted by Bjarne on June 29, 2012 16:58


Mr Wise confirms what my embassy staff told me late last year - being the meetings of several ambassadors in BKK to jointly pressure the central government into action in Phuket due to the inaction of local authorities here.

They told me to be patient and wait a few months, promising definite action.

Remains to be seen if BKK offers the same kind of lip service only or do we see real change.

Warning ahead of impending raids and confiscation of vehicles does not bode well in terms of sincere effort though.

Posted by Andrew on June 29, 2012 17:01


I would love to see this happen, as most of the tuk tuks would be off the street within days, nearly all of them carry knives, guns, baseball bats or other weapons. But who is going to check them, the police? The same police who don't want to get involved in problems with jet skis, who do nothing about illegal black taxis,who allow tuk tuks to park on red & white lines, who allow illegal taxis to cordon off public parking spaces and threaten anyone parking there. As i say i would love to see it happen but i have to admit to a little bit of skepticism.

Posted by swerv on June 29, 2012 17:05

Editor Comment:

Police have been told to no longer feel an obligation to support local ''mafia.''


Tuk-tuks could be confiscated as part of a crackdown on weapons on Phuket,


I thinks these are just empty words, that being aired to satisfy ears of Messrs.Honorary Councils: first< if tuk-tuk vehicles, as it is commonly known, are normally rented , not owned, this is first legal obstacle to confiscate property, that doesn't belong to social order violator - such actions are considered as violating part of universal human rights - rights for the private property.
Then, tuk-tuk vehicle itself is no part of crime of carrying unlicensed weapons, so this is another obstacle to seize a tuk-tuk.
I think when this was said, that tuk-tuks will be confiscated, officials knew that such measures are simply unenforceable , and silently smirked.

Posted by SUe on June 29, 2012 17:34


"Police have been told to no longer feel an obligation to support local mafia."

You made my day with this comment Sir :)
That's truly a good one!!!!

Posted by Mr. K on June 29, 2012 17:53


If this happens, it will be very interesting to see who really owns the tuk tuks.

Posted by mikey on June 29, 2012 21:33


Well I suppose blaming the tuk tuks wins the popularist vote every time. This was supposed to be about the bizarre slaughter of a tourist. I say 'bizarre' as there are 5000 local jobs up for grabs and yet they choose to go around stealing defenceless ladies handbags. Obviously this is not a poverty issue, just pure laziness and stupidity. The route cause is a cultural issue, taxi cabs are not part of the cultural make-up of Thailand.

Posted by Jon on June 30, 2012 08:05


Bravo, Mr. Wise.

Posted by fw on June 30, 2012 08:57


The bad publicity caused by crimes such as the murder of mrs Smith is now causing a great deal of talk from on high. What we need to see is action. If the police can't deal with this crime wave, then perhaps an absence of tourists will have some effect.

Posted by Blue on July 2, 2012 17:19

Editor Comment:

I don't know where you get your information from, Blue, but there is no ''crime wave'' on Phuket. I couldn't help noticing though, that Canada has had a restaurant shooting and a head was found in a park. Is that the crime wave you mean?

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