The issue came to a head after two young Russians were caught on camera in compromising positions while riding in the back of a tuk-tuk along the Karon beach road in a video posted online late last Friday night (May 5). (See story here.)
In the video the woman can be seen straddling her male companion and leaning back across the tuk-tuk cab, and moving rhythmically while supported by her arms.
“I have never seen this type of thing happening in a public place in my entire life in Patong,” said Preechawut “Prab” Keesin, director of the Pisona (tuk-tuk) Group. Mr Preechawut, a native of Patong, has deep links to hospitality, nightlife and tuk-tuks operating in the party town.
“But this kind of indecent act does not deserve attention. There are many places to do this, but not in public, or even in tuk-tuks,” he said.
“I think they were drunk and did this to be naughty,” he joked.
On a more serious note, Mr Preechawut added, “From a business side, this image affects the tourism industry – and this is the from the point of view of somebody travelling behind the vehicle. The person who recorded this video must also think before posting this kind of thing on social media.”
Phuket Provincial Police Chief Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen was uninspired by the incident. “This kind of thing happens anywhere in the world. I do not have much to comment about it,” he said.
“People know that it is not right. Thailand is a Buddhist country. This behaviour must not appear in public. Everyone knows that both of these foreigners were charged with public indecency and fined B500 each.”
After Karon Police were informed of the video online, officers moved to track down the Russian couple.
“We tracked down the tuk-tuk driver through the license plate, and he led police to where the couple were staying in Phuket Town,” Lt Col Naruewat Puttawiro of the Phuket Tourist Police told The Phuket News on Monday (May 8).
“We found them early yesterday evening (Sunday, May 7). They are Russian tourists,” Col Naruewat confirmed, but was polite enough not to name couple. (see story here.)
“We brought them to Karon Police Station, where a volunteer (acting as translator) explained to them for an hour why they had been brought in for questioning.
“Both denied that they were having sex, but they both admitted they had removed items of clothing. They said that they did not know that this broke the law,” Col Naruewat added.
However, their actions were deemed illegal.
“We explained to them that in Thai culture even just taking off a shirt in public is inappropriate, so they were both charged with public indecency and fined B500 each,” Col Naruewat confirmed.
“We would like to thank the public for their help in bringing this to our attention,” he added.
Reporting by Tanyaluk Sakoot and Eakkapop Thongtub