More tuk-tuk trouble in Phuket

PATONG, PHUKET: A Canadian tourist was hospitalized after being punched repeatedly in an attack involving a tuk-tuk driver yesterday afternoon.

Ivan Bob Anwar, 51, told the Gazette that he was punched five times in the attack, which resulted in a large gash above his left eyebrow requiring five stitches. He also sustained a bloody nose and bruising to his face.

Treatment charges at Patong Hospital came to 2,000 baht.

The attack was the result of a dispute over a one-minute taxi ride.

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Mr Anwar and his wife arrived in Phuket on January 4 for a three-day holiday.

But after spending one night in their hotel in the north end of Patong, they decided to move to a quieter location further north in Kalim.

Mr Anwar, a teacher living in Japan, said he and his wife flagged down a tuk-tuk outside their hotel at 1pm yesterday.

After a brief negotiation with the driver, Mr Anwar and his wife agreed to pay 150 baht for the short trip to their new hotel.

“But when we arrived at our new hotel [one minute later] I told the driver that he had charged us too much,” he said.

Mr Anwar offered the driver a discounted fare of 100 baht, feeling this was all the trip was worth and got out of the tuk-tuk.

At this point, Mr Anwar said the driver telephoned a second man who then arrived on the scene almost immediately.

“The driver then got out of the tuk-tuk and punched me four or five times in the face,” said Mr Anwar.

The second man was reported to have restrained Mr Anwar during the attack. Both men then fled the scene in the tuk-tuk, Mr Anwar said.

After witnessing the attack, workers from a nearby hotel took the bloodied Mr Anwar and his wife to Kathu Police Station in the hotel’s mini-bus.

At about 3pm, tuk-tuk driver Tassanarit Damthong, 30, handed himself in at Kathu Police Station.

Mr Tassanarit was promptly arrested and charged with assault.

When the Gazette arrived at Kathu Police Station, Mr Tassanarit was in a holding cell, having been denied bail.

Mr Tassanarit’s boss, Natdanai Chaowana, was at the police station. He told the Gazette he didn’t understand why bail had been denied, claiming Mr Anwar was the one at fault.

“The Canadian guy was rude and swore and also kicked him [Mr Tassanarit] first,” said Mr Chaowana.

Mr Chaowana also said that the fee was agreed between the driver and Mr Anwar, and admitted that it was the standard rate in the area.

Mr Anwar and Kathu Police were due to appear at Phuket Provincial Court to file assault charges.

Police said they were still searching for the second man alleged to have been involved in the attack.

Mr Anwar and his wife were due to leave Phuket on January 7. He said he has no plans to return to Phuket.

“I like Thailand, but don’t think I will ever come back to Phuket after this. Maybe I’ll try Krabi instead,” he said.

— Atchaa Khamlo

Phuket News
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