Chart Jindapol, who had to go public in August after being accused of being the bagman for 17 different corrupt officers, called the press conference at the new “Complain Public Centre of Andaman” that he has set up in an apartment block at the intersection of Palian and Damrong Roads in Phuket Town.
Complaints from the public, he said, would be passed on to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
He also disclosed that one police officer in particular – whom he named as “Ja Wit” – has been taking massive amounts of bribes, not only to allow nightlife businesses to stay open late but also to overlook cases of encroachment on public land and beaches, illegally-set-up companies with foreign shareholders and many other contraventions of the law.
“He was the one who sent the letter to the Phuket Reporters Club, which said ‘Mr Chart is the one who is collecting bribes in Patong’.
“I investigated and discovered he sent the letter. I also found out how his gang is set up. I know the how, where and what. I have all the information.
“He falsely claims that he is just following orders.”
Mr Chart said, “Patong’s entrepreneurs submitted a letter to the Phuket provincial governor in February, but no one has seriously tried to fix the problem. Patong business people don’t trust the governor anymore.”
Weerawit Kuressombut, the president of the Patong Entertainment Association, who weeks ago denied knowing Mr Chart, is now allied with him, and joined the press conference.
Mr Weerawit said, “Now there are 17 groups of officials extracting bribes. All of them are police.”
He said that there is only one reason nightspots pay bribes: to stay open after official opening hours.
“The way to fix the problem is that Phuket should be declared a special zone, and nightspots should be allowed to register [to open later than the law specified].”
“Tourists don’t come to Phuket only for the beach. They also want to enjoy the nightlife. Patong makes lots of money for the country, so they should think about [extending opening hours].”
He added that a senior policeman had told him that if he revealed information about police corruption, the police would promptly apply the 2 am closing time strictly.
Patong’s nightlife owners already have a “final measure” in mind – to completely close all their businesses in protest – but he said he has advised them not to do this yet. “If we do, [Thailand] will suffer huge losses,” he explained.
But he added that some nightlife owners have already given up the battle. “Some nightspot businessmen have turned their businesses into restaurants because they can no longer afford to pay the huge bribes.”
Mr Chart said, “I don’t mind if the government solves this with ministerial regulations or revised rules, but don’t let it continue the way it is now. All it does is allow [officials] to take advantage.
“If we want to fix the problem long-term, we should follow the model set by Pattaya. There is no problem in Pattaya because everything is done above board, not under the table.”