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Opinion

Phuket Opinion: Tourist abduction, another sign of transport greed

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Opinion: Tourist abduction, another sign of transport greed | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The allegations of abduction of a female Chinese tourist by an illegal taxi driver operating out of Phuket International Airport once again highlight the need for a comprehensive overhaul of Phuket’s arcane, baroque and disreputable “public transport system” (story here).

The shocking allegations against “independent” taxi driver Paitoon Kruain could not have come at a more conspicuous time: just days after Airports of Thailand (AOT) officials once again caved in to the demands of Mook Andaman, a local co-operative comprising “black-plate” taxi drivers using standard cars illegally as taxis.

The AOT allowed Mook Andaman members to join the three groups that hold concessions to operate at the golden goose that is Phuket Airport, bending to their demands after drivers staged a series of protests coinciding with Phuket’s hosting of the “Airports Council International Asia-Pacific Regional Assembly”. This was a clear demonstration of the balance of powers at the airport for the entire Asia-Pacific region to behold (story here).

Past and present problems involving taxis and limousines serving tourists at Phuket Airport are innumerable. They are nevertheless just a microcosm of the greed-driven mess that passes for a public transport system here on our island.

Yes, there are some good taxi drivers operating in the industry – as we have seen several times from reports of valuables being returned to passengers – but the system itself is in desperate need of a complete overhaul.

Historically, local politicians have blamed Bangkok while handsomely profiting from the status quo, as the AOT does from the concessions they charge. However, the AOT, taking in over one million baht per month from each of the three taxi concessions alone, is unlikely to be the only one benefiting from these concessions.

The danger of this greed to individual tourists and the tourism industry is made apparent in Mr Paitoon’s abduction of his 19-year-old fare from China. Mr Paitoon, willing to undercut the inflated prices charged by legal operators at the airport, was able to lure this solo traveller into his vehicle.

Exactly what fear and uncertainty filled the young woman’s mind as her driver, high on methamphetamine, allegedly held her behind locked doors for five hours is anyone’s guess; but what is less in doubt is the impact this will have on our island’s reputation as a tourist destination in China – Phuket’s greatest tourism source market frontier.

Phuket is perfectly suited to become one of China’s most popular holiday destinations. We stage and enjoy an unbroken stream of cultural traditions, like the Vegetarian Festival, for example, that are immensely appealing to mainland Chinese, who saw much, if not all, of their own traditions expunged during the Cultural Revolution.

We plead, yet again, for government leaders, local and national, to deal with this issue, not only as a matter of national economic importance – but of local pride.

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Opinion

“Racial profiling and xenophobic” – a rant against Dual Pricing

The Thaiger

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“Racial profiling and xenophobic” – a rant against Dual Pricing | The Thaiger

The rules are applied in a lumpy fashion at various tourist hot spots around the country as well as some national parks. Sometimes it’s applied, sometimes, not, sometimes there are signs, sometime they make it up as they go, sometimes they will allow local expats in for the Thai price.

There are dual-pricing apologists who say ‘Hey, it’s cheap anyway, so pay up and shut up’. Whilst dual-pricing whiners say it’s unfair, racist and shows a lack of grace towards tourists and foreigners.

Here’s the story from ‘Despondant Foreigner’. You can have your say on the post at our Facebook page

“I would like to share my story with you that happened to me this morning. I visited Promlok waterfall in Nakhon Si Thammaratt with my Thai wife, child and wife’s family. Upon arrival two soldiers approached our car and my wife began talking to them. They explained to her that as today is Songkran all Thai’s get to go to the waterfalls free of charge but I had to pay. Then a woman dressed in yellow approached the car who confirmed what the soldiers said and told my wife that this is a new law. Well we were all disgusted and proceeded to drive back down to the bottom of the waterfall where we could all swim for free.

I am absolutely disgusted by this. Yet another example of Thailand’s racial profiling and xenophobia towards foreigners. The fact that I am married and have children here doesn’t make a difference. Because I have white skin I must pay the fee whilst all Thais go in free.”

SOURCE: ThaiVisa

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Opinion

Fox News fake news, Phuket gets a bullet

Bill Barnett

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Fox News fake news, Phuket gets a bullet | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett, C9Hotelworks.com

As Phuket moves slowly into low season, a story published in the international media by the US-based Fox News about how tourists could face the death penalty over taking photos at the island’s airport is a highly flaw piece of sensationalist fake news.

Clearly there is no likelihood that the Thai authorities will apply a legal maximum penalty under the Air Navigation Act for tourists posing for selfies as airplanes land. More likely would be a  charge of trespassing and a fine.

Clicking into Google this morning the story is now running with the New York Post, MSN and other news outlets abroad.

What is distressing is to see how news providers sensationalize Thailand and Phuket with little regard as to the consequences of the economic impact of such a story.

For most readers, what they will remember when reading such a piece is only the headline about Phuket, Mai Khao Beach and the death penalty.

What a sorry state of affairs mainstream news has become.

To read the Fox News article clock HERE.

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Election

Is Thanathorn the new Thaksin? Will the ‘establishment’ tolerate his new political vision?

The Thaiger

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Is Thanathorn the new Thaksin? Will the ‘establishment’ tolerate his new political vision? | The Thaiger

Is Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit a popular fad or does he, and his party, have the staying power to make him a sustainable threat to the entrenched Thai political elite?

Many analysts are comparing Thanathorn to Thaksin in his early days. They say there are clear similarities. First off, Thanathorn is facing the kind of legal trouble that Thaksin faced when Thailand’s political crisis started to brew.

After becoming Thailand’s PM, Thaksin faced a share transfer scandal in which he moved his company shares to poor servants, allegedly to avoid stock market restrictions imposed on people owning big lots of stocks. Now, 40 year old Thanathorn is facing a legal controversy over his previous ownership of media shares, which could still doom his election candidacy.

The allegations are yet to be considered by the Election Commission.

Thaksin, in spite of repeated denials, was always alleged to have controversial political ambitions. Thanathorn, meanwhile, is seen in an increasingly similar situation. The list of complaints is growing, many to do with his perceived unorthodox ideology that contrasts with the conservative political ‘Thainess’ that includes non-negotiable support for the Army and Monarchy.

Thanathorn has been criticised for something he said about the Khana Ratsadon Party, which played an instrumental role in changing Thailand’s system from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy in 1932. The secretary-general of Thanathorn’s party has also been forced to deny making highly-controversial comments about Thailand’s political culture.

Future Forward did very well on March 24, surpassing pundits’ predictions for the new party. Analysts say the success is due to three main factors — Thanathorn’s youthful image that attracted the majority of first-time voters, the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party that shifted a lot of votes to Future Forward, and the new party’s fresh ideology and perspectives.

He, and the party, attracted a lot of newer voters along with a core of disaffected voters who are looking for change.

But Thanathorn’s looming legal trouble is described as a potential banana skin. It concerns a large number of shares he had in a media company, which were transferred to his mother so that he could qualify as an election candidate.

One apparently-private document, which he is relying on, showed he transferred the V-Luck Media Company shares on January 8, before he applied for election candidacy. Another document, which his accusers are relying on, apparently showed the transfer was brought to the authorities’ attention after he became an election candidate.

Controversy continues to build around the young billionaire and chances are it will grow.

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Thaiger

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