PATONG BEACH: At a time when many wonder who, if anyone, is really running the show in Patong, a new contender has emerged and demonstrated that he is a force to be reckoned with. When roughly 100 tuk-tuk drivers banned together late Friday night to block Patong’s beach road for more than three hours following a police lock-up of two tuk-tuks illegally parked in front of the Lai Mai Restaurant, a Khun Manawd, (surname not available), strode into the limelight. Speaking as leader of the Patong tuk-tuk drivers’ association, he announced that it had been “wrong” and “unfair” of the police to penalize the two drivers, stating that they, like all other tuk-tuk drivers, were providing good service to the public. Moreover, in the world according to Khun Manawd, and presumably in mitigation, the area where the two immobilized tuk-tuks had illegally parked should not be a ‘no parking’ area in any event. So important were the words of K. Manawd that his audience soon grew to include the head of the Kathu police, the head of Kathu District, some municipal councillors, and other local dignitaries. They heard the tuk-tuk leader’s three requirements for dismantling the blockade: 1) Change the “no parking” rule on the east side of the beach road (red & white markings on the curb) to “waiting permitted” (yellow & white), all the way from Soi Bangla at the north end of the strip to the Sea Pearl hotel at the south. 2) Ensure that the Kathu police become more “polite to people.” 3) Allow tuk-tuks to stop and wait for passengers in Soi Bangla after 1 am. Enough said! Uthai Ganjana, a member of the Patong municipal council, promised to take Khun Manawd’s demands to a council meeting scheduled for January 18. The crowds dispersed; the tuk-tuks snarled off; and the beach road re-opened to traffic at approximately 2:30 am.
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