The house was one of the first places to be searched by police last Thursday (August 28) when they launched mass raids across Patong, looking for 83 people they had arrest warrants for, along with any evidence of wrongdoing.
The space in front of the house was jammed with reporters, well-wishers and staff of Pisona and hotels owned by the family as the press conference got underway.
“I surrendered voluntarily and was well treated by the police,” said the town’s former mayor, Pian Keesin, head of the family. “But I am very curious why they think we must be Ang Yi [Triad gangsters].
“Everyone knows where I am – I have not been hiding. I’ve never actually lived here [in this house]. I live in a house in Phuket Town.
“Normally, I wake up early and go to my farm. I didn’t know that the police planned to raid my house. That’s why I wasn’t at home,” he said.
He said that he felt let down that police did not invite him to come for questioning. “I am a polite person. If they called me, for sure I would have gone. There was no need for them to issue arrest warrants like this,” Mr Pian added.
“For me, jail is normal. It’s not the first time I have been inside,” he said with a smile.
“There are no problems in my relationship with Pol Maj Gen Paween Pongsirin [leader of the ‘mafia’ taxi investigation in Phuket]. We used to work together when he was Superintendent of Patong Police and I was the Mayor,” he explained.
“My only opponents are politicians,” he added, noting that police had also questioned him about the election campaign in the run-up to the most recent Patong mayoral poll, which he lost.
Asked about money, he said that he was not rich. “All of the money I have invested was borrowed from banks. But my opponents may want to damage the Keesin family’s credit rating,” Mr Pian explained.
Asked why he went to surrender at the Royal Thai Navy base in Cape Panwa and not the police station, he said, “I though that we are now under martial law. That’s why I decided to go there.”
Asked about two guns found during searches of property connected to him, he said that he had bought the shotgun found in his wife’s house to protect his durian farm from thieves, and a .38 pistol also found was given to him by the authorities when he was elected kamnan. It was rusty and had never been used, he said.
To raucous laughter he said, “The only gun I use is the water gun in my pocket.”
His son, Preechawut “Prap” Keesin, also said that he was so disappointed about being arrested. “I was not surprised but I was very disappointed because of all the support I have given to officials in the past,” he explained.
“I don’t understand why a person who brought taxi drivers to be registered, who set up a labour development centre, who supported the Patong Safety Zone project, and who rented space at Junceylon to run a taxi service with very little benefit to himself should now be branded as Ang Yi,” he complained.
Asked why he had not surrendered in Phuket, he said, “I went to Bangkok on August 25 for a conference and I couldn’t get the flight back in time because of traffic problems caused by heavy rain.
“During that time I received so many phone calls that my battery died. After that, I was advised by my lawyer to surrender at any police station nearby,” he added.
Asked about a list of business names with numbers against them, which police showed to the press yesterday, implying that it was a list of monthly collections, he denied this was the case. “It was just a research document,” he said.
“I am a kind of person who like to do research and the paper they found is about my research into corruption in Patong. All of the information in the list was entered by me; it was a list of basic assumptions I had made.”
Calling an end to the press conference, Mr Pian said, “Respectfully and sincerely, I would like to thank all the media and everybody else for listening to me and for following the case.
“I also thank the police for giving us a chance for a legal battle. We have done nothing wrong and we are not Ang Yi.”
Exclusive TV interview with Prap Keesin here.