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Move Forward MPs-elect tackle Phuket taxi drivers, corrupt police, landslides

Move Forward MPs-elect tackle Phuket taxi drivers, corrupt police, landslides

PHUKET: Move Forward MPs-elect for Phuket have started tackling critical issues facing tourists and island residents, including police corruption and intimidation by Phuket taxi drivers allegedly operating as ‘mafia’.

By The Phuket News

Wednesday 24 May 2023, 02:20PM

Move Forward won all three Member of Parliament seats in Phuket by strong margins in the national election on May 14.

However, despite the Phuket office of the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT Phuket) recognising the victories, the vote counts are still technically “unofficial” as the ECT head office in Bangkok has yet to confirm its tally of the votes cast.

Regardless, following the announcement of the unofficial results, all three Move Forward MPs-elect vowed “to do their best” for the island. 

Following up on that promise, even before being officially installed as a Phuket MP, Somchart Techathavorncharoen, MP-elect for Constituency 1, yesterday (May 23) paid a visit to Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Sermphan Sirikong to raise key issues involving police.

Also present for the meeting was Phuket City Police Chief Col Pratuang Ponmana.


Mr Somchart in a Facebook post yesterday explained that he raised the issue of Phuket taxi drivers operating with Phuket-issued ‘green’ licence plates verbally abusing fully legal taxi drivers using legally approved taxi apps to pick up customers.

The main concern was ongoing conflicts between taxi drivers and he expressed concern about “mafia behaviour” by prohibiting other taxis from picking up passengers in their “own queue area”, Mr Somchart noted.

The behaviour “destroys the reputation of the province’s tourism [industry]”, he said.

Mr Somchart provided links to reports of a woman taxi app driver recently being accosted as she picked up a young woman passenger in front of Malin Plaza in Patong at night.

The ‘green plate’ taxi driver abused the taxi app driver, Ms Thitima, who explained she was fully legal. She even has the correct official stickers issued by the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) attached to each door to publicly show that her car is registered correctly and operating fully legally as a taxi with permission from the PLTO.

The PLTO has yet to even publicly recognise the incident. Since early March, the PLTO has strongly defended ‘green plate’ taxi cooperative drivers on the island while conducting a sustained campaign against “illegal” taxi app drivers. (See stories here and here.)

The PLTO has even warned tourists that they may be required to stay in the country to attend court if they are caught using an illegal taxi.

The incident at Malin Plaza was just the latest in a series of incidents of violent and aberrant behaviour by Phuket taxi cartel drivers against ‘taxi app’ drivers. In at least one incident, a taxi app driver struck back.

Efforts by senior Phuket officials, including Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew, to curtail the ongoing behaviour by Phuket taxi drivers have yet to prove effective.

Phuket Provincial Police Chief Maj Gen Sermphan confirmed that no taxi drivers or co-operatives have any legal right to attempt to enforce exclusive rights to pick up passengers at a taxi rank in a public area, Mr Somchart reported.

Such behaviour “is not supported by the law. And in the past, there has been prosecution under the Criminal Code, Section 309,” Maj Gen Sermphan said.

Mr Somchart, as MP-elect for Phuket Constituency 1, which comprises Phuket Town (Talad Yai and Talad Neua subdistricts), Koh Kaew and Ratsada, urged any people who experienced such problems with taxi drivers in his constituency to take audio and video clips of the offending taxi driver and report the incident to Phuket City Police Station.

He also urged people to send the same reports to him.


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Mr Somchart also raised the problem of corrupt police ‒ or imposters presenting themselves as police officers ‒ extorting, soliciting or defrauding money from people.

Of note, the issue raised included “complaints about being extorted by the police to collect tribute on a monthly basis”.

“The police confirmed that the police department does not extort monthly tribute. So I proposed setting up an ambush to arrest them together so that they would know which agency they came from or if they were just imposters,” Mr Somchart said.

Phuket City Police Chief Col Pratuang agreed with the suggestion, he added.

Other issues discussed yesterday included the prevalence of drugs in local communities, about which Mr Somchart said he had received many complaints from local residents.

Also discussed were leaky police accommodations, Mr Somchart added.


Chalermpong Saengdee, MP-elect for Constituency 2, which comprises Wichit, Chalong, Rawai, Karon, Patong and Kamala, yesterday kept his promise to raise the issue of risk of dangerous landslides on the main road through Kamala.

Mr Chalermpong yesterday submitted a formal request to solve the problem of risk of landslides on Kuan Na Yak on the Patong-Kamala Road.

Present in person to receive the formal request was Phuket Highways Office Director Yutthana Pitak.

Mr Yutthana said he was aware of the problem and plans were already underway to resolve the issue, Mr Chalermpong reported.

“We have laid out a solution to this problem. This will be done in the same way as Kuan Sator. [on Kata Hill, between Chalong and Kata],” Mr Yuttana said.

“Right now there is a budget jam. It will take a total of B50 million for the project. Therefore, the project will be included in the fiscal year 2024 [which begins on Oct 1],” he added.

Specifically, two large boulders dangerously beside the road cannot be removed, Mr Yuutana continued.

The boulders are holding the soil in place on the steep slope beside the road, he explained. Removing them will only let the soil collapse onto the road, he said

Mr Chalermpong also discussed other problems, including the recent flooding of the Darasamut Underpass. (See stories here and here.)

The Phuket Highways Office is currently in the process of applying for budget approval to make the necessary repairs to ensure the underpass does not flood with each heavy downpour, Mr Chalermpong said.

In the meantime, a temporary pump provided by the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO) has been installed to help cope with any flooding issues, he said.

Mr Chalermpong also discussed the prospect of improving the street lighting at Kalim Beach. There are only two teams of maintenance personnel that take care of that area, he said.

He will also submit a formal request to open a U-turn in front of Muang Phuket School, located just south of Chalong Circle, to help prevent and reduce accidents, he added.

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Kurt | 25 May 2023 - 12:35:23

Let one thing clear; The boulders only hold the soil behind it in place. Landslides will come from ABOVE when it rains. No silly plastic barrier holds that. Are the officialdom lighs coming 'on'?

Kurt | 25 May 2023 - 12:11:17

It speaks volumes that PLTO is silent as a mouse, when talks regards Phuket Taxi mafia/cartel and not joined in any photo shooting.

Kurt | 25 May 2023 - 11:00:52

Doe it ever appear in the mind of Officials that present Thai slow process of applying for budget approval is complete out dated? Due to it repairs start to late, and time makes a situation worse, moremoney needed for repair. Last October was it 'apply process time' about Kamala, than we would not see now this silly plastic orange 'barriers' at a dangerous land slide location.

Kurt | 25 May 2023 - 10:21:22

A formal request for a U-turn in front of that school? That is asking for future traffic accidents as the north/south traffic at that location drives with high speed. Just south of Chalong Circle is already a U-turn. For students coming from the north there is a U-turn south of Makro, (there traffic lights will do good.). More U-turns undermine safety on that 'race-road'.

JohnC | 25 May 2023 - 08:53:50

If they are able to do what until now has been deemed impossible by all present and previous MPs and gov officials, ie; control the PLTO taxi mafia and stop the blatant RTP corruption, then they can look forward to a very long time in power in Phuket with lots of support from the common people.

JohnC | 25 May 2023 - 08:48:50

Of course the biggest hypocrite who is nothing but a farce has to try and cover his arse by blaming others for his sad pathetic vitriol. Every taxi will be happy to take it to any airport one way, or to a very deep ditch...

Capricornball | 24 May 2023 - 21:05:01

Great to see all the MP-elects getting straight into action. It will be a slow process as all the problem players (PLTO and their cartel vermin, corrupt RTP, and most of the existing officials) are loathe to give up their dirty ways of doing business. We see the MFP-elects are taking action, so when nothing changes, we will more clearly see where the roots of the problems are. GO MFP!

Davew | 24 May 2023 - 20:42:01

It will never change,I married a thai lady, did everything correct, went to Bangkok twice to prove I not still married in uk, got paper to show then I have to get translation into thai,can only use a approved company! 5000B for a couple of a 4 sheets go to office to get marriage certificate,hours later was told you have to see boss after 2pm? Come back at 2pm saw boss,guess what wanted 5000B, 

Fascinated | 24 May 2023 - 17:56:03

The Police are absolutely correct about the Police not collecting 'tributes' their bagman in Kamala is a Civvie with a big brown satchel. Its blatant. 

Fascinated | 24 May 2023 - 17:51:28

Seems I was right about the boulders stablising the hill- the Terrible Twins will be most indignant when they finish their Sundowners.

Fascinated | 24 May 2023 - 17:49:11

Not even got his feet under the table and people are whinging. I expect the Terrible Twins will be along in a moment to a dd to the vitriole. A shame some dont' get a taxi out of here they hate the place so much.

Old guy | 24 May 2023 - 17:11:57

He says the taxi mafia "...destroys the reputation of the island's tourism industry..." Really? The rep that says:
Everyone will steal from you. 
The roads can kill you.
You have to bribe authorities.
You are to blame no matter what.
Maybe he should open his eyes. 

Old guy | 24 May 2023 - 17:10:02

Will things change? Not likely. This "Major General" is already covering up for the PTLO by not acknowledging the incident. Heck, he's intimidating tourists to not report incidents by saying they'll have to stay for a trial.

Thailand - Third World Wonder. 


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