Phuket Gazette

KARON, PHUKET: The tuk-tuk driver wanted in connection with the savage beating of French tourists in Kata last Saturday has gone into hiding, the Gazette has learned.

“Now, the suspect has run away. He is not at his house and didn’t show up at the tuk-tuk parking area as normal,” Chalong Police Investigator Chana Sutthimaat told the Gazette today.

The suspect, whose name is known to police, was issued a summons to come in for questioning after the victims filed a complaint with Chalong Police on Tuesday afternoon.

The family allege the man attacked them with a heavy metal shaft of the type used to support a large beach umbrella in high winds.

The attack followed an argument over a public parking spot that the attacker claimed was reserved for use by tuk-tuks, even though there were no municipal or other signs or markings to designate the space as such.

For our original report click here.

When contacted about the tuk-tuk situation in Karon today, Mayor Tawee Tongcham said he was aware of the latest incident.

“Initially, I asked the group of drivers there how such a thing could happen. One who witnessed the beating told me the attacker appeared to suffer from minor mental problems. In any case, I need to speak to both parties involved before making a decision about who was wrong and who was right,” he said.

“As for measure to avoid this sort of fighting, I will hold a meeting after New Year's Day to strictly delineate which areas are reserved for tuk-tuks and taxis and which are open for tourists to park their cars,” he said.

This latest violent incident has spurred a deluge of comments on the Gazette readers forum and has prompted an Internet petition urging the province to ban tuk-tuks altogether and establish a reasonably-priced public transport system.
– Pimwara Choksakulpan

1

Why, if the Police knew who the driver in question was, didn't they just request his attendance at the police station? He should have been brought in for questioning immediately – not allowed to slip away!

Posted by bev December 31, 2009 03:49:01PM

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2

Why not publish a picture of the suspect and I'm sure the public will help the police find him. Perhaps he moved to Patong. If he is still out there working, he might just be a danger to more tourists.

Posted by Dive Doc December 31, 2009 03:49:39PM

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3

About tuk-tuks. If I remember well, immediatley after the tsunami the then Governor said that tuk-tuks and bike and car rentals would be forbidden along the beach road in Patong. Yes, he said that. Five years later, we're still waiting.

Posted by Richard December 31, 2009 04:00:58PM

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4

A public transport operation needs to provide a reasonably priced, safe, law abiding, friendly, environmentally sound, transparent service with clearly defined procedures for disputes, grievances and the licensing of qualified drivers.

As the tuk-tuks fail to meet any of these requirements, they should be scrapped or brought into line. As a business owner providing accommodation services to visitors, our company actively discourages the use of tuk-tuks in favour of more pleasant and service- orientated providers.

Posted by Allan Mossop December 31, 2009 04:13:28PM

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5

How can it possibly be right under any circumstances whatsoever for the tuk-tuk driver to beat up an elderly couple with a metal bar, causing serious bodily harm? Kata-Karon has recieved by far the most negative feedback from tourists in regard to tuk-tuks. What is Kata-Karon going to do to solve this problem?

Do we really need to get these kind of incidents on YouTube again? As was done with the jet-ski problem? Just about every tourist has a camera; it's only a matter of time until a video of tuk-tuk drivers intimidating, threatening and ultimately assaulting tourists appears again on YouTube.

Do the Ministries in Bangkok and the Governor of Phuket have to intervene again? Or can Kata-Karon solve its own problem right there in its own backyard?

Posted by Amazing Thailand December 31, 2009 04:20:27PM

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6

Since when does the Mayor of Karon assume the mantle of being an investigator? ("'In any case, I need to speak to both parties involved before making a decision about who was wrong and who was right', he said.") I've no doubt that the tuk-tuk driver will re-appear after a couple of weeks, when, no doubt, the French family will have returned home. Disgusting.

Posted by pag December 31, 2009 04:50:26PM

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7

Why not publish a picture of the suspect and I'm sure the public will help the police find him. Perhaps he moved to Patong. If he is still out there working, he might just be a danger to more tourists.

Posted by Dive Doc

Yes, let's see the tuk-tuk driver so the whole island knows who not to use. Shame on the Tessaban in Kata. As a local here, we all know who the man is and he will never come to justice because the tourists will go home and the case will be forgotten.

Posted by peter j notley December 31, 2009 05:03:06PM

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8

Please note that it's not just the tuk-tuks, but also the taxi guys who park in the public parking areas too. I once parked my car there just to pop into the bank and got a bottle thrown into my windshield. The only people who hang around in that parking area are the tuk-tuk and taxi guys.

I went to the police station to make a report but they couldn't do anything.

Posted by Apple December 31, 2009 05:22:12PM

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9

Phuket is a joke! After all the postings in this forum requesting a review following the 'Phuket taxi drivers demand fare share' story on Saturday, December 12, this happens. I wish the Frenchman and his family well and a quick recovery. It's a pity that something like this had to happen before the authorities understand. Even now, it's anyone's guess as to whether or not anything is going to change.

Please make it known to the authorities. Phuket transport (and a lot of other issues) are the laughing stock of many outside Phuket. Instead of making the 100 baht many tourists would bring in, they are fighting over the 10-baht coin! Only in thailand – ooppps, I mean Phuket!

Posted by PattayaIsBetter December 31, 2009 05:29:06PM

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10

Shame on the Mayor of Karon! Quote: 'In any case, I need to speak to both parties involved before making a decision about who was wrong and who was right.' How can hitting an elderly man ever be right?

When will the Phuket authorities realise that incidents like this are one of the main reasons for tourists staying away, and for expats leaving the island. Mayor: We need action, not words!

Posted by Simon Luttrell December 31, 2009 05:55:32PM

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11

Isn't it interesting how everyone except the tuk-tuk drivers themselves is held accountable if they break the law. It is obvious why this happens. And as long as everything remains status quo, this type of unruly behavior will continue, thus tarnishing and eventually ruining Phuket's tourist industry.

Posted by sky December 31, 2009 06:09:34PM

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12

In February 2001 (yes 2001) I raised this tuk-tuk subject with the then Director General and now the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. Prior to proposing a reduction in the boat import duty. For the first item, the eyes glazed over. For the latter they lit up.

Posted by Alan Cooke December 31, 2009 06:20:39PM

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13

Simple solution, to everyone but tuk-tuk mafia types. Have those larger intercity buses make a continuous loop around Patong, charging 20-50 baht per person. 5-6 of them could provide a lift every 3-4 minutes, and they are already licensed. When tuk-tuk income drops they may revise their fare schedule.

Posted by Phuket xpat December 31, 2009 06:53:10PM

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14

Simple solution, to everyone but tuk-tuk mafia types. Have those larger intercity buses make a continuous loop around Patong, charging 20-50 baht per person. 5-6 of them could provide a lift every 3-4 minutes, and they are already licensed. When tuk-tuk income drops they may revise their fare schedule.

Posted by Phuket xpat

Makes perfect sense, except the buses don't have to be that large. I wouldn't mind seeing more of a trolley-type vehicle. Then maybe the tuk-tuks will starve and eventually vanish.

Posted by sky December 31, 2009 07:03:37PM

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15

About 5 years ago I was at a meeting where the Phuket Chief of Police was the guest speaker. After his speech the first question was about tuk-tuk problems. He was asked why he could not control the tuk-tuks, knowing that they are daily breaking so many laws, that they are consistently the top negative comment generators on many Hotel Tourist Questionnaires, and that they spoil so many tourists' vacations.

He hesitated for a full minute and then answered in confidence to a small gathering of locals, "Because they know where my children go to school". When asked how to control them, he said either the military or special police from Bangkok would have to come here and do it, over a long term.

Posted by No Name December 31, 2009 07:30:28PM

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16

Soon there will be a video on you-tube.

Posted by Roland December 31, 2009 07:35:22PM

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17

I have come to the conclusion that all of this talking is just a waste of time. I don't really think that anything will be done about the problems with tuk-tuks or jet-skis. What is wanted is a big boycott from farang and Thais to show with solidarity that the gangster behavior is not acceptable.

Posted by clickblade December 31, 2009 08:05:03PM

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19

Who was right or wrong? If someone is beaten up using the weapon he did, you already know who is wrong right away. And then to say he might have been mentally disturbed? It's time the government gets its act together and comes in and clears all this up once and for all. Problem is, they are so scared to do it.

Posted by tom December 31, 2009 08:36:55PM

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21

About 5 years ago I was at a meeting where the Phuket Chief of Police was the guest speaker. After his speech the first question was about tuk-tuk problems. He was asked why he could not control the tuk-tuks, knowing that they are daily breaking so many laws, that they are consistently the top negative comment generators on many Hotel Tourist Questionnaires, and that they spoil so many tourists' vacations.

He hesitated for a full minute and then answered in confidence to a small gathering of locals, "Because they know where my children go to school". When asked how to control them, he said either the military or special police from Bangkok would have to come here and do it, over a long term.

Posted by No Name

"Because they know where my children go to school." Do you know what we call this kind of behaviour? This is mafia! I'm sorry but is nearly impossible to eradicate. The only way is to NEVER use a tuk-tuk, an abusive taxi or a jet-ski. Nice utopia, but at least the gangs will disappear.

Posted by Roberto December 31, 2009 09:07:57PM

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22

OK...but there needs to be a sincere effort to get the word out to tourists not to use those things, and why. Where to start?

Posted by sky December 31, 2009 09:44:54PM

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23

Tuk-tuks a sad joke and cleaning it up is a farce. The rest is swept under the carpet as usual. Hold another meeting. LOL.

Posted by stephen December 31, 2009 09:54:30PM

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24

I feel sorry for the tuk-tuk driver, that he must put up with these crazy farangs day after day, driving on the wrong side of the road, parking in commercial spots, etc. He probably just lost it. There should be a law that prohibits farang from driving cars in Phuket. Also, the taxi areas should be clearly marked to avoid confusion.

Posted by phuket stu December 31, 2009 10:54:23PM

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25

There is nothing that can be done. The tuk-tuk guys own the routes and they are more powerful than law enforcement in the Patong-Kata-Karon-Chalong corridor. Sad, but it's a fact.

Posted by chill January 1, 2010 04:08:00AM

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26

About 5 years ago I was at a meeting where the Phuket Chief of Police was the guest speaker. After his speech the first question was about tuk-tuk problems. He was asked why he could not control the tuk-tuks, knowing that they are daily breaking so many laws, that they are consistently the top negative comment generators on many Hotel Tourist Questionnaires, and that they spoil so many tourists' vacations.

He hesitated for a full minute and then answered in confidence to a small gathering of locals, "Because they know where my children go to school". When asked how to control them, he said either the military or special police from Bangkok would have to come here and do it, over a long term.

Posted by No Name

Then it is time to bring in the military, though this would of course be a natural project for the Tourist Police if they could undertake it.

The Phuket Provincial Administration Organization has the perfect vehicles already in operation in Phuket City: the large pink 'songtaew' buses. They run the same two routes as the green buses and the current arrival frequency is much better than before. The bottom line is that you can get anywhere in Phuket Town for ten baht if you have the patience.They operate with two staff: a driver and a conductor.

All you would need to do to end all the ridiculous problems around Karon and Patong would be to set up a third pink-bus route between those two beaches. If really necessary, put armed guards aboard it. Sometimes dire circumstances require drastic measures.

Posted by Phuket Sub January 1, 2010 04:36:37AM

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27

On New Years Eve morning I took my wife to the Phuket Orchid Hotel in Karon to collect a gift from a friend who was a guest at the hotel. There were 2 parking spaces on the road, about 30 meters from the entrance to the hotel. As I pulled into the space a Thai man told me very aggressively that I could not park there. I tried to explain that I would be parked only a few minutes while waiting for my wife. He then raised his voice and I took the 'hint' and parked further down the road. There was no sign say 'no parking' or 'reserved', but there was a queue of 'black' taxis outside the hotel.

Posted by Stuart January 1, 2010 08:11:18AM

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29

Is this man a hit and run coward?

Posted by anti tuk tuk January 1, 2010 10:26:59AM

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30

The same everywhere. Try to find a parking spot outside Robinson in Phuket Town. 99% of the spots are occupied by taxis and tuk-tuks. I wouldn't mind paying to use a space around there, maybe even 20 baht, but those spaces should always be available for PUBLIC use, and not the exclusive reserve of taxis, tuk-tuks and those unregistered, illegal taxis.

Posted by Azad January 1, 2010 10:38:55AM

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31

OK...but there needs to be a sincere effort to get the word out to tourists not to use those things, and why. Where to start?

Posted by sky

Everyone who works with or meets tourists can tell them. I do. the tourists can walk within their beach area. Or take the 'Phuket' bus within Patong, or from Kata to Karon. Tell them hotel taxis are just a bit more expensive but safer. Distribute flyers in Swedish, French, German, etc.

Posted by ivo January 1, 2010 10:48:00AM

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32

Phuket is a joke! After all the postings in this forum requesting a review following the 'Phuket taxi drivers demand fare share' story on Saturday, December 12, this happens. I wish the Frenchman and his family well and a quick recovery. It's a pity that something like this had to happen before the authorities understand. Even now, it's anyone's guess as to whether or not anything is going to change.

Please make it known to the authorities. Phuket transport (and a lot of other issues) are the laughing stock of many outside Phuket. Instead of making the 100 baht many tourists would bring in, they are fighting over the 10-baht coin! Only in thailand – ooppps, I mean Phuket!

Posted by PattayaIsBetter

Yeah, like Pattaya’s citizenry jealously guard their well earned reputation as the home of law and order!

Posted by Stuart Hooper January 1, 2010 11:06:44AM

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33

Now that local authorities are unable to bring this man to justice, I say turn the case over to the Volunteer Tourist Police Corps. Once they have his photo, they can canvass the island. But they will need the backing of the military or special police from Bangkok to guarantee their safety. All in all, an appalling situation.

Posted by James Litorice January 1, 2010 11:47:19AM

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34

I have a condo in Phuket and I used to visit several times a year with my family. I have now not visited for more than 2 years and one of the reasons is the tuk-tuks. They are just rip-offs. The alternative is to rent a car,  which I often did, only to find NO PARKING at all along the Patong Beach road. An eternal disgrace.

After the Tsunami I read that these 'reserved' parking places would be eliminated, but it was all empty talk and nothing happened.

I now go to Bali or Singapore, less hassle.

Posted by Tony January 1, 2010 11:53:40AM

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35

Now the tuk-tuk gangs think they're the sole owner of Kata and Karon. Just yesterday, at 2345 hrs, a couple of tuk-tuk drivers parked their cars in the middle of the beach road in Kata, blocking the road despite being quite able to see a lot of traffic behind them with people coming to see the fireworks.

Nobody can complain; nobody can say anything. Nobody can remove those tuk-tuks. Shame on the local municipality for allowing this kind of thing to happen, day after day.

Posted by John Score January 1, 2010 12:41:32PM

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36

Now it has happened again. Do the officials need somebody to die before they take some real action?

I too have a serious issue outstanding with the tuk-tuks in Karon. Some years ago I had to run away from a restaurant with about 10 tuk-tuk guys after me. Lucky for me that I am fit.

I would advise that in Karon-Kata all the tuk-tuk places be covered by CCTV cameras. And there should be a published price for each of their trips so that tourists can decide immediately if they want to get involved any further or not.

Posted by Thomas January 1, 2010 12:47:11PM

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37

Is this man a hit and run coward?

Posted by anti tuk tuk

The tuk-tuk drivers in Karon/Kata are only strong and dangerous when they are together. When they are alone they are quiet and go into hiding.

Posted by buffalo January 1, 2010 12:53:58PM

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38

Are they licensed to carry as many people as they want? Yesterday I saw one with 9 people crammed into it!

Posted by Rex January 1, 2010 12:56:19PM

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39

The tourists and the residents have to get involved in the solution. They should start by avoiding the kind of transportation.

Posted by Peter Johansson January 1, 2010 01:23:22PM

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40

Soon there will be a video on you-tube.

Posted by Roland

I really hope so and it would be nice if more people would report this problem to the world's major news outlets. Globally visible headlines would help a lot to get a solution started.

I left Phuket in 1997 as it was starting to get bad there. Now, many of my friends are leaving Phuket to move up north and to other nicer areas of Thailand. If many local expats are leaving and the tourists are disappearing.... well, it could become one lonely island soon. But actually that will never will happen because there are always others moving in.

I hope you guys down there get this sorted out in some way. But again it will take time as the government is not getting involve.

Posted by Marco January 1, 2010 01:42:17PM

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41

It's not called the tuk tuk mafia for nothing. It's all about money. Nothing will happen unless Bangkok steps in and shows solid support in assisting the local governments to put an end to the problem. Phuket is losing more and more of its favorable image every day. It will continue unless something is really going to be done and not just given lip service.

Posted by Coyote January 1, 2010 01:54:00PM

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43

If the government is not going to do anything, is there a solution? Not really, because the transport gangs are not likely to accept losing their jobs or income. Meanwhile, the affected municipalities and other areas in which the tuk-tuks and taxis have seized most of the parking space, should at least put up clear signs to that effect so that no more tourists (or local residents) will insist on parking there and be attacked.

Without the no-parking signs there will surely be another incident, maybe even a death, and that will mean GAME OVER for Phuket tourism.

Posted by Andrew January 1, 2010 02:13:04PM

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44

You must understand that the tuk-tuks could not be parking where they do unless the traffic police were willing to allow it.

Posted by fred haworth January 1, 2010 02:22:33PM

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46

The police need to talk to the suspect in hiding and carry out their responsibilities quickly. They can only press charges if the victims are still here in Phuket. I hope the police are not dragging their feet, hoping that the injured tourists, and thus the problem, will go away.

Posted by David January 1, 2010 06:37:59PM

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47

Why don't the Police just call him on his cell phone? His tuk-tuk driver friends will a) have his phone number, and  b) know where he is.

Posted by Antz Pantz January 1, 2010 07:15:05PM

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48

I have a condo on Patong Beach. Every time I try to park my car in a public parking space I am set upon by the tuk-tuk drivers. I was surrounded once by 5 or 6 of them and told I would be beaten if I didn't move my car.

Posted by Pete January 1, 2010 09:51:04PM

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49

I have a condo in Phuket and I used to visit several times a year with my family. I have now not visited for more than 2 years and one of the reasons is the tuk-tuks. They are just rip-offs. The alternative is to rent a car,  which I often did, only to find NO PARKING at all along the Patong Beach road. An eternal disgrace.

After the Tsunami I read that these 'reserved' parking places would be eliminated, but it was all empty talk and nothing happened.

I now go to Bali or Singapore, less hassle.

Posted by Tony

This is exactly the same situation as my family. We used to visit 3 or 4 times a year as Phuket is very convenient from Hong Kong. Catch the 8:30am flight and be on the beach by lunchtime.

When we first started visiting Phuket a few years ago we thought that we would buy a house there for our retirement. Now, there is no way we would do that. Not only will we not buy the house but we won't even holiday there any more.

We spent this Christmas in Langkawi, Malaysia, which was beautiful. More importantly, we felt safe there. And our Chinese New Year holiday in Feb is booked for Vietnam. It is a great shame as I still love Phuket as an island – its beaches and its food – but the law has no teeth there, and that does not make for a safe place to live.

Posted by Charles Low January 1, 2010 10:20:23PM

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51

I dream of the day I can walk out to the main road and flag down a metered taxi at any time of the day, just like in Bangkok. Go anywhere I want at a fair price. The present system forces people to drive drunk because who wants to argue with arrogant tuk-tuk drivers that want 300-500 baht for a 10-minute drive?

Posted by A Pal January 2, 2010 01:55:12AM

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52

One has to wonder why these people keep on doing severe damage to the image of Thailand and the Thai people. Hotel operators will have to submit a massive detailed complaint combined with a proper concept for an affordable 24/7 transportation system that meets the public's and tourists' needs. Phuket needs to impress the world with a highly eco-friendly and yet economic public transportation network.

The current number of vehicles is doing severe damage to health, environment and revenues.

Posted by Buck Wild January 2, 2010 02:12:40AM

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53

How in the hell is this possible right in front of the Municipality offices and NEXT to the police box? I got attacked there 7 months ago and the police stayed in their box. Only when my 7-months pregnant wife got out of the car did they cool down. Time for Phuket's authorities to face up to this problem and stop pretending it doesn't exist.

Posted by No thank you January 2, 2010 09:59:41AM

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54

This problem has been here in Phuket for a long, long time, even though so many people have tried to solve it. But they all failed because the cartel has so much power in its hands.

Posted by patty January 2, 2010 11:01:12AM

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56

Is this man a hit and run coward?

Posted by anti tuk tuk

The tuk-tuk drivers in Karon/Kata are only strong and dangerous when they are together. When they are alone they are quiet and go into hiding.

Posted by buffalo

You are absolutely correct. They will only hit on you as a group. One on his own would never face the average fit person! Unless of course they are armed with gun or knife. I hear this story time and time again.

Posted by Laffinmahedoff January 2, 2010 12:07:25PM

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57

Of course, in the end it will be the elderly French tourist that was wrong. The tuk-tuk driver will come back after a few weeks and say he acted in self defense, and everything will continue as it always has. It’s really pathetic.

Posted by Robbie Einhorn January 2, 2010 12:40:32PM

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58

Nothing can change until cozy government/private sector relationships are ruled out. There's always a scapegoat in any incident to protect the big boys. Look at the news of late; even the police were caught smuggling people from Burma.

But the tourists will always keep coming no matter what happens to them. Each tuk-tuk driver pays a monthly fee for his vehile. 400+ tuk-tuks, each paying at least 1,000 baht a month to the boss. That's a nice income.

Posted by Tbs January 2, 2010 01:03:09PM

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59

Last night I parked my car on Song Roi Pee Rd outside OTOP.  Knock-knock on my window. "You can't park here; only for tuk-tuk. I got out, nothing to denote no parking so I asked why not. He said aggressively, "Only for tuk-tuk; you park there," pointing down the road. There were already 2 tuk-tuks parked on the kerb and 2 empty spaces. I'm not stupid so I drove off and spent a further 15 minutes looking for a vacant space. Ruined my night out. Please, please someone; sort these people out.

Posted by alan January 2, 2010 02:10:45PM

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59

Last night I parked my car on Song Roi Pee Rd outside OTOP.  Knock-knock on my window. "You can't park here; only for tuk-tuk. I got out, nothing to denote no parking so I asked why not. He said aggressively, "Only for tuk-tuk; you park there," pointing down the road. There were already 2 tuk-tuks parked on the kerb and 2 empty spaces. I'm not stupid so I drove off and spent a further 15 minutes looking for a vacant space. Ruined my night out. Please, please someone; sort these people out.

Posted by alan January 2, 2010 02:10:45PM

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58

Nothing can change until cozy government/private sector relationships are ruled out. There's always a scapegoat in any incident to protect the big boys. Look at the news of late; even the police were caught smuggling people from Burma.

But the tourists will always keep coming no matter what happens to them. Each tuk-tuk driver pays a monthly fee for his vehile. 400+ tuk-tuks, each paying at least 1,000 baht a month to the boss. That's a nice income.

Posted by Tbs January 2, 2010 01:03:09PM

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57

Of course, in the end it will be the elderly French tourist that was wrong. The tuk-tuk driver will come back after a few weeks and say he acted in self defense, and everything will continue as it always has. It’s really pathetic.

Posted by Robbie Einhorn January 2, 2010 12:40:32PM

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56

Is this man a hit and run coward?

Posted by anti tuk tuk

The tuk-tuk drivers in Karon/Kata are only strong and dangerous when they are together. When they are alone they are quiet and go into hiding.

Posted by buffalo

You are absolutely correct. They will only hit on you as a group. One on his own would never face the average fit person! Unless of course they are armed with gun or knife. I hear this story time and time again.

Posted by Laffinmahedoff January 2, 2010 12:07:25PM

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54

This problem has been here in Phuket for a long, long time, even though so many people have tried to solve it. But they all failed because the cartel has so much power in its hands.

Posted by patty January 2, 2010 11:01:12AM

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53

How in the hell is this possible right in front of the Municipality offices and NEXT to the police box? I got attacked there 7 months ago and the police stayed in their box. Only when my 7-months pregnant wife got out of the car did they cool down. Time for Phuket's authorities to face up to this problem and stop pretending it doesn't exist.

Posted by No thank you January 2, 2010 09:59:41AM

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52

One has to wonder why these people keep on doing severe damage to the image of Thailand and the Thai people. Hotel operators will have to submit a massive detailed complaint combined with a proper concept for an affordable 24/7 transportation system that meets the public's and tourists' needs. Phuket needs to impress the world with a highly eco-friendly and yet economic public transportation network.

The current number of vehicles is doing severe damage to health, environment and revenues.

Posted by Buck Wild January 2, 2010 02:12:40AM

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51

I dream of the day I can walk out to the main road and flag down a metered taxi at any time of the day, just like in Bangkok. Go anywhere I want at a fair price. The present system forces people to drive drunk because who wants to argue with arrogant tuk-tuk drivers that want 300-500 baht for a 10-minute drive?

Posted by A Pal January 2, 2010 01:55:12AM

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49

I have a condo in Phuket and I used to visit several times a year with my family. I have now not visited for more than 2 years and one of the reasons is the tuk-tuks. They are just rip-offs. The alternative is to rent a car,  which I often did, only to find NO PARKING at all along the Patong Beach road. An eternal disgrace.

After the Tsunami I read that these 'reserved' parking places would be eliminated, but it was all empty talk and nothing happened.

I now go to Bali or Singapore, less hassle.

Posted by Tony

This is exactly the same situation as my family. We used to visit 3 or 4 times a year as Phuket is very convenient from Hong Kong. Catch the 8:30am flight and be on the beach by lunchtime.

When we first started visiting Phuket a few years ago we thought that we would buy a house there for our retirement. Now, there is no way we would do that. Not only will we not buy the house but we won't even holiday there any more.

We spent this Christmas in Langkawi, Malaysia, which was beautiful. More importantly, we felt safe there. And our Chinese New Year holiday in Feb is booked for Vietnam. It is a great shame as I still love Phuket as an island – its beaches and its food – but the law has no teeth there, and that does not make for a safe place to live.

Posted by Charles Low January 1, 2010 10:20:23PM

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I have a condo on Patong Beach. Every time I try to park my car in a public parking space I am set upon by the tuk-tuk drivers. I was surrounded once by 5 or 6 of them and told I would be beaten if I didn't move my car.

Posted by Pete January 1, 2010 09:51:04PM

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Why don't the Police just call him on his cell phone? His tuk-tuk driver friends will a) have his phone number, and  b) know where he is.

Posted by Antz Pantz January 1, 2010 07:15:05PM

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46

The police need to talk to the suspect in hiding and carry out their responsibilities quickly. They can only press charges if the victims are still here in Phuket. I hope the police are not dragging their feet, hoping that the injured tourists, and thus the problem, will go away.

Posted by David January 1, 2010 06:37:59PM

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44

You must understand that the tuk-tuks could not be parking where they do unless the traffic police were willing to allow it.

Posted by fred haworth January 1, 2010 02:22:33PM

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43

If the government is not going to do anything, is there a solution? Not really, because the transport gangs are not likely to accept losing their jobs or income. Meanwhile, the affected municipalities and other areas in which the tuk-tuks and taxis have seized most of the parking space, should at least put up clear signs to that effect so that no more tourists (or local residents) will insist on parking there and be attacked.

Without the no-parking signs there will surely be another incident, maybe even a death, and that will mean GAME OVER for Phuket tourism.

Posted by Andrew January 1, 2010 02:13:04PM

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It's not called the tuk tuk mafia for nothing. It's all about money. Nothing will happen unless Bangkok steps in and shows solid support in assisting the local governments to put an end to the problem. Phuket is losing more and more of its favorable image every day. It will continue unless something is really going to be done and not just given lip service.

Posted by Coyote January 1, 2010 01:54:00PM

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40

Soon there will be a video on you-tube.

Posted by Roland

I really hope so and it would be nice if more people would report this problem to the world's major news outlets. Globally visible headlines would help a lot to get a solution started.

I left Phuket in 1997 as it was starting to get bad there. Now, many of my friends are leaving Phuket to move up north and to other nicer areas of Thailand. If many local expats are leaving and the tourists are disappearing.... well, it could become one lonely island soon. But actually that will never will happen because there are always others moving in.

I hope you guys down there get this sorted out in some way. But again it will take time as the government is not getting involve.

Posted by Marco January 1, 2010 01:42:17PM

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39

The tourists and the residents have to get involved in the solution. They should start by avoiding the kind of transportation.

Posted by Peter Johansson January 1, 2010 01:23:22PM

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38

Are they licensed to carry as many people as they want? Yesterday I saw one with 9 people crammed into it!

Posted by Rex January 1, 2010 12:56:19PM

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37

Is this man a hit and run coward?

Posted by anti tuk tuk

The tuk-tuk drivers in Karon/Kata are only strong and dangerous when they are together. When they are alone they are quiet and go into hiding.

Posted by buffalo January 1, 2010 12:53:58PM

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36

Now it has happened again. Do the officials need somebody to die before they take some real action?

I too have a serious issue outstanding with the tuk-tuks in Karon. Some years ago I had to run away from a restaurant with about 10 tuk-tuk guys after me. Lucky for me that I am fit.

I would advise that in Karon-Kata all the tuk-tuk places be covered by CCTV cameras. And there should be a published price for each of their trips so that tourists can decide immediately if they want to get involved any further or not.

Posted by Thomas January 1, 2010 12:47:11PM

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Now the tuk-tuk gangs think they're the sole owner of Kata and Karon. Just yesterday, at 2345 hrs, a couple of tuk-tuk drivers parked their cars in the middle of the beach road in Kata, blocking the road despite being quite able to see a lot of traffic behind them with people coming to see the fireworks.

Nobody can complain; nobody can say anything. Nobody can remove those tuk-tuks. Shame on the local municipality for allowing this kind of thing to happen, day after day.

Posted by John Score January 1, 2010 12:41:32PM

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I have a condo in Phuket and I used to visit several times a year with my family. I have now not visited for more than 2 years and one of the reasons is the tuk-tuks. They are just rip-offs. The alternative is to rent a car,  which I often did, only to find NO PARKING at all along the Patong Beach road. An eternal disgrace.

After the Tsunami I read that these 'reserved' parking places would be eliminated, but it was all empty talk and nothing happened.

I now go to Bali or Singapore, less hassle.

Posted by Tony January 1, 2010 11:53:40AM

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Now that local authorities are unable to bring this man to justice, I say turn the case over to the Volunteer Tourist Police Corps. Once they have his photo, they can canvass the island. But they will need the backing of the military or special police from Bangkok to guarantee their safety. All in all, an appalling situation.

Posted by James Litorice January 1, 2010 11:47:19AM

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Phuket is a joke! After all the postings in this forum requesting a review following the 'Phuket taxi drivers demand fare share' story on Saturday, December 12, this happens. I wish the Frenchman and his family well and a quick recovery. It's a pity that something like this had to happen before the authorities understand. Even now, it's anyone's guess as to whether or not anything is going to change.

Please make it known to the authorities. Phuket transport (and a lot of other issues) are the laughing stock of many outside Phuket. Instead of making the 100 baht many tourists would bring in, they are fighting over the 10-baht coin! Only in thailand – ooppps, I mean Phuket!

Posted by PattayaIsBetter

Yeah, like Pattaya’s citizenry jealously guard their well earned reputation as the home of law and order!

Posted by Stuart Hooper January 1, 2010 11:06:44AM

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31

OK...but there needs to be a sincere effort to get the word out to tourists not to use those things, and why. Where to start?

Posted by sky

Everyone who works with or meets tourists can tell them. I do. the tourists can walk within their beach area. Or take the 'Phuket' bus within Patong, or from Kata to Karon. Tell them hotel taxis are just a bit more expensive but safer. Distribute flyers in Swedish, French, German, etc.

Posted by ivo January 1, 2010 10:48:00AM

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The same everywhere. Try to find a parking spot outside Robinson in Phuket Town. 99% of the spots are occupied by taxis and tuk-tuks. I wouldn't mind paying to use a space around there, maybe even 20 baht, but those spaces should always be available for PUBLIC use, and not the exclusive reserve of taxis, tuk-tuks and those unregistered, illegal taxis.

Posted by Azad January 1, 2010 10:38:55AM

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29

Is this man a hit and run coward?

Posted by anti tuk tuk January 1, 2010 10:26:59AM

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On New Years Eve morning I took my wife to the Phuket Orchid Hotel in Karon to collect a gift from a friend who was a guest at the hotel. There were 2 parking spaces on the road, about 30 meters from the entrance to the hotel. As I pulled into the space a Thai man told me very aggressively that I could not park there. I tried to explain that I would be parked only a few minutes while waiting for my wife. He then raised his voice and I took the 'hint' and parked further down the road. There was no sign say 'no parking' or 'reserved', but there was a queue of 'black' taxis outside the hotel.

Posted by Stuart January 1, 2010 08:11:18AM

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About 5 years ago I was at a meeting where the Phuket Chief of Police was the guest speaker. After his speech the first question was about tuk-tuk problems. He was asked why he could not control the tuk-tuks, knowing that they are daily breaking so many laws, that they are consistently the top negative comment generators on many Hotel Tourist Questionnaires, and that they spoil so many tourists' vacations.

He hesitated for a full minute and then answered in confidence to a small gathering of locals, "Because they know where my children go to school". When asked how to control them, he said either the military or special police from Bangkok would have to come here and do it, over a long term.

Posted by No Name

Then it is time to bring in the military, though this would of course be a natural project for the Tourist Police if they could undertake it.

The Phuket Provincial Administration Organization has the perfect vehicles already in operation in Phuket City: the large pink 'songtaew' buses. They run the same two routes as the green buses and the current arrival frequency is much better than before. The bottom line is that you can get anywhere in Phuket Town for ten baht if you have the patience.They operate with two staff: a driver and a conductor.

All you would need to do to end all the ridiculous problems around Karon and Patong would be to set up a third pink-bus route between those two beaches. If really necessary, put armed guards aboard it. Sometimes dire circumstances require drastic measures.

Posted by Phuket Sub January 1, 2010 04:36:37AM

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There is nothing that can be done. The tuk-tuk guys own the routes and they are more powerful than law enforcement in the Patong-Kata-Karon-Chalong corridor. Sad, but it's a fact.

Posted by chill January 1, 2010 04:08:00AM

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I feel sorry for the tuk-tuk driver, that he must put up with these crazy farangs day after day, driving on the wrong side of the road, parking in commercial spots, etc. He probably just lost it. There should be a law that prohibits farang from driving cars in Phuket. Also, the taxi areas should be clearly marked to avoid confusion.

Posted by phuket stu December 31, 2009 10:54:23PM

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Tuk-tuks a sad joke and cleaning it up is a farce. The rest is swept under the carpet as usual. Hold another meeting. LOL.

Posted by stephen December 31, 2009 09:54:30PM

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22

OK...but there needs to be a sincere effort to get the word out to tourists not to use those things, and why. Where to start?

Posted by sky December 31, 2009 09:44:54PM

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About 5 years ago I was at a meeting where the Phuket Chief of Police was the guest speaker. After his speech the first question was about tuk-tuk problems. He was asked why he could not control the tuk-tuks, knowing that they are daily breaking so many laws, that they are consistently the top negative comment generators on many Hotel Tourist Questionnaires, and that they spoil so many tourists' vacations.

He hesitated for a full minute and then answered in confidence to a small gathering of locals, "Because they know where my children go to school". When asked how to control them, he said either the military or special police from Bangkok would have to come here and do it, over a long term.

Posted by No Name

"Because they know where my children go to school." Do you know what we call this kind of behaviour? This is mafia! I'm sorry but is nearly impossible to eradicate. The only way is to NEVER use a tuk-tuk, an abusive taxi or a jet-ski. Nice utopia, but at least the gangs will disappear.

Posted by Roberto December 31, 2009 09:07:57PM

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Who was right or wrong? If someone is beaten up using the weapon he did, you already know who is wrong right away. And then to say he might have been mentally disturbed? It's time the government gets its act together and comes in and clears all this up once and for all. Problem is, they are so scared to do it.

Posted by tom December 31, 2009 08:36:55PM

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I have come to the conclusion that all of this talking is just a waste of time. I don't really think that anything will be done about the problems with tuk-tuks or jet-skis. What is wanted is a big boycott from farang and Thais to show with solidarity that the gangster behavior is not acceptable.

Posted by clickblade December 31, 2009 08:05:03PM

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Soon there will be a video on you-tube.

Posted by Roland December 31, 2009 07:35:22PM

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About 5 years ago I was at a meeting where the Phuket Chief of Police was the guest speaker. After his speech the first question was about tuk-tuk problems. He was asked why he could not control the tuk-tuks, knowing that they are daily breaking so many laws, that they are consistently the top negative comment generators on many Hotel Tourist Questionnaires, and that they spoil so many tourists' vacations.

He hesitated for a full minute and then answered in confidence to a small gathering of locals, "Because they know where my children go to school". When asked how to control them, he said either the military or special police from Bangkok would have to come here and do it, over a long term.

Posted by No Name December 31, 2009 07:30:28PM

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Simple solution, to everyone but tuk-tuk mafia types. Have those larger intercity buses make a continuous loop around Patong, charging 20-50 baht per person. 5-6 of them could provide a lift every 3-4 minutes, and they are already licensed. When tuk-tuk income drops they may revise their fare schedule.

Posted by Phuket xpat

Makes perfect sense, except the buses don't have to be that large. I wouldn't mind seeing more of a trolley-type vehicle. Then maybe the tuk-tuks will starve and eventually vanish.

Posted by sky December 31, 2009 07:03:37PM

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Simple solution, to everyone but tuk-tuk mafia types. Have those larger intercity buses make a continuous loop around Patong, charging 20-50 baht per person. 5-6 of them could provide a lift every 3-4 minutes, and they are already licensed. When tuk-tuk income drops they may revise their fare schedule.

Posted by Phuket xpat December 31, 2009 06:53:10PM

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In February 2001 (yes 2001) I raised this tuk-tuk subject with the then Director General and now the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. Prior to proposing a reduction in the boat import duty. For the first item, the eyes glazed over. For the latter they lit up.

Posted by Alan Cooke December 31, 2009 06:20:39PM

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Isn't it interesting how everyone except the tuk-tuk drivers themselves is held accountable if they break the law. It is obvious why this happens. And as long as everything remains status quo, this type of unruly behavior will continue, thus tarnishing and eventually ruining Phuket's tourist industry.

Posted by sky December 31, 2009 06:09:34PM

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Shame on the Mayor of Karon! Quote: 'In any case, I need to speak to both parties involved before making a decision about who was wrong and who was right.' How can hitting an elderly man ever be right?

When will the Phuket authorities realise that incidents like this are one of the main reasons for tourists staying away, and for expats leaving the island. Mayor: We need action, not words!

Posted by Simon Luttrell December 31, 2009 05:55:32PM

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Phuket is a joke! After all the postings in this forum requesting a review following the 'Phuket taxi drivers demand fare share' story on Saturday, December 12, this happens. I wish the Frenchman and his family well and a quick recovery. It's a pity that something like this had to happen before the authorities understand. Even now, it's anyone's guess as to whether or not anything is going to change.

Please make it known to the authorities. Phuket transport (and a lot of other issues) are the laughing stock of many outside Phuket. Instead of making the 100 baht many tourists would bring in, they are fighting over the 10-baht coin! Only in thailand – ooppps, I mean Phuket!

Posted by PattayaIsBetter December 31, 2009 05:29:06PM

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Please note that it's not just the tuk-tuks, but also the taxi guys who park in the public parking areas too. I once parked my car there just to pop into the bank and got a bottle thrown into my windshield. The only people who hang around in that parking area are the tuk-tuk and taxi guys.

I went to the police station to make a report but they couldn't do anything.

Posted by Apple December 31, 2009 05:22:12PM

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Why not publish a picture of the suspect and I'm sure the public will help the police find him. Perhaps he moved to Patong. If he is still out there working, he might just be a danger to more tourists.

Posted by Dive Doc

Yes, let's see the tuk-tuk driver so the whole island knows who not to use. Shame on the Tessaban in Kata. As a local here, we all know who the man is and he will never come to justice because the tourists will go home and the case will be forgotten.

Posted by peter j notley December 31, 2009 05:03:06PM

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Since when does the Mayor of Karon assume the mantle of being an investigator? ("'In any case, I need to speak to both parties involved before making a decision about who was wrong and who was right', he said.") I've no doubt that the tuk-tuk driver will re-appear after a couple of weeks, when, no doubt, the French family will have returned home. Disgusting.

Posted by pag December 31, 2009 04:50:26PM

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How can it possibly be right under any circumstances whatsoever for the tuk-tuk driver to beat up an elderly couple with a metal bar, causing serious bodily harm? Kata-Karon has recieved by far the most negative feedback from tourists in regard to tuk-tuks. What is Kata-Karon going to do to solve this problem?

Do we really need to get these kind of incidents on YouTube again? As was done with the jet-ski problem? Just about every tourist has a camera; it's only a matter of time until a video of tuk-tuk drivers intimidating, threatening and ultimately assaulting tourists appears again on YouTube.

Do the Ministries in Bangkok and the Governor of Phuket have to intervene again? Or can Kata-Karon solve its own problem right there in its own backyard?

Posted by Amazing Thailand December 31, 2009 04:20:27PM

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A public transport operation needs to provide a reasonably priced, safe, law abiding, friendly, environmentally sound, transparent service with clearly defined procedures for disputes, grievances and the licensing of qualified drivers.

As the tuk-tuks fail to meet any of these requirements, they should be scrapped or brought into line. As a business owner providing accommodation services to visitors, our company actively discourages the use of tuk-tuks in favour of more pleasant and service- orientated providers.

Posted by Allan Mossop December 31, 2009 04:13:28PM

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About tuk-tuks. If I remember well, immediatley after the tsunami the then Governor said that tuk-tuks and bike and car rentals would be forbidden along the beach road in Patong. Yes, he said that. Five years later, we're still waiting.

Posted by Richard December 31, 2009 04:00:58PM

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Why not publish a picture of the suspect and I'm sure the public will help the police find him. Perhaps he moved to Patong. If he is still out there working, he might just be a danger to more tourists.

Posted by Dive Doc December 31, 2009 03:49:39PM

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Why, if the Police knew who the driver in question was, didn't they just request his attendance at the police station? He should have been brought in for questioning immediately – not allowed to slip away!

Posted by bev December 31, 2009 03:49:01PM

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