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Black taxis scoff at Phuket Airport organized crime center

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Black taxis scoff at Phuket Airport organized crime center | The Thaiger

PHUKET: A taxi company using illegal “black taxis” to serve Phuket International Airport said it will continue to do so despite the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) opening its Organized Crime Center for Tourism there on Friday (story here).

“Our black plate taxis will still work as usual. If the DSI officers arrest them, I will explain to the officers why we are unable to get green license plates [become legal taxis],” Mook Andaman Business & Travel Co-operative secretary Ittipol Mekmanee told the Phuket Gazette.

Mook Andaman, not one of three co-operatives with Airport of Thailand (AoT) concessions to operate at the airport, has a fleet of 136 taxis, only 10 of which are legally registered, Mr Ittipol said.

The company has had limited success adding its vehicles to the legally operating co-operatives at the airport. Even that success came about only after stalking Phuket Governor Maitri Inthusut at his home (story here).

“I understand the rules and that officers want illegal operators to register their vehicles to make the system better. However, we have encountered difficulties,” said Mr Ittipol.

“Finance companies require deposits of around 70,000 baht [sic] in order to release a registration book, which they hold as collateral for loans taken out to buy cars. How can we find that much money?” he asked.

The drivers need the books in their hands in order to present them to the Phuket Land Transportation Office (PLTO) so officials can physically register the change from private vehicle to public.

Many banks and finance companies do not readily hand car registration books to people who have taken out loans to buy cars, as it is the only collateral the companies have to ensure the vehicles remain in their legal possession.

Mr Ittipol’s concern was formally recognized by PLTO chief Teerayut Prasertpol earlier this year (story here).

Mr Teerayut explained that at the time the biggest remaining obstacle stopping taxi drivers from becoming legal was the cost of changing the registered use of their vehicles with their finance companies.

However, a breakthrough deal was brokered six months ago.

“Drivers claimed banks and finance companies required deposits of up to 10,000 baht in order to release the registration books which they hold as collateral for loans taken out to buy cars,” Mr Teerayut said in February.

Mr Teerayut had already raised this issue with Land Transport Department Director-General Somchai Siriwattanachoke in December last year.

The result was a meeting with representatives from Thanachart Bank headquarters in Bangkok, which provides financing for about half of the 2,882 illegal taxis operating in Phuket.

“Thanachart Bank has agreed to waive the deposit for drivers who give permission for the bank to hand the registration book directly to the PLTO in order to change the registration type. This saves the taxi drivers from having to come up with the money needed for the deposit,” Mr Teerayut explained in February.

“Other financial services companies are taking care of their customers in the same way. This is a big help to the taxi drivers who want to get green license plates [have their vehicles registered as legal taxis],” he added.

Despite this progress made months ago, Mr Ittipol yesterday made it clear that financial companies were still what was preventing him, and the drivers of the Mook Andaman fleet, from becoming legal.

“As I said, what are we going to do? We do not have the money to pay the financial companies. If the government wants to make this rule more effective, they should provide more help to us. For example, they could allocate some funds for us to pay off our debts,” he said.

“Then, things would be much easier,” he added.

Though Mook Andaman is struggling with legality, Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada has maintained that many other taxi operators had been very cooperative since the announcement of the new rules (story here).

Mr Ittipol’s disregard for the DSI crackdown flies in the face of Vice Governor Chamroen, who urged all illegal taxis to have their vehicles registered, warning them that they will be prime targets for the DSI come Friday.

“On Friday, the Organized Crime Center for Tourism will start to operate at the airport. DSI officers and airport officers will be keeping an eye open for any black plate taxis operating at the airport,” Vice Governor Chamroen said.

“Any taxi operator who hasn’t registered their vehicle yet, better be quick. Because if they aren’t – we will arrest them,” he warned.

— Orawin Narabal

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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