Phuket taxi driver faces 180-day suspension for harassing student

Picture courtesy of Phuket News.

A taxi driver based in Phuket faces the looming threat of a 180-day suspension and potentially more severe consequences following accusations of inappropriately harassing a young female passenger.

The visibly shaken 20 year old student lodged a complaint against the driver, Chuen Ochaphon, citing inappropriate advances during the journey. These advances included an invitation to his room and a proposition to become her monthly sponsor.

The situation escalated when the driver, in a concerning turn of events, refused to allow her to exit the vehicle despite her explicit request due to fear.

The incident came to light when the victim lodged a formal complaint at the Phuket City Police Station. Police Lieutenant Chittiwa Thanawitwilas took note of the report at 7.25 pm on Thursday, January 18. The young woman had booked a taxi via the Bolt app, requesting a pickup from Pa Khlok, with a destination of a student dormitory in Ratsada. The vehicle that arrived was a white MG ZS EV with green license plates, driven by Chuen.

As per the student’s account, Chuen engaged in inappropriate conversation and questioning during the journey. He revealed his age, around 45 years, queried about her relationship status, and expressed an interest in taking care of her. His flirtatious behaviour caused the student extreme discomfort.

When the student, fearing for her safety, asked to be let out of the taxi, Chuen refused. The vehicle was then on Thepkrasattri Road, heading southbound in Koh Kaew. Despite his unsettling advances, Chuen did not deviate from the route to Ratsada.

Inappropriate advances

Later, the student’s father spoke to the media, revealing that his daughter had been terrified and distressed by the encounter. He reported that Chuen had repeatedly proposed a monthly sponsorship of 5,000 baht for his daughter. His inappropriate advances started from the moment she entered the taxi. The father added that a complaint had been lodged via the Bolt app.

Upon reaching the dormitory, Chuen attempted to apologise and followed the student to her room. He continued his apology outside her room, ultimately leaving 300 baht by the door before departing. The father expressed concern for his daughter’s safety in future journeys and expressed his distress over the incident. He urged the perpetrator to reflect on his actions, considering how he would feel if his own family were subjected to such behaviour.

The Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO), represented by Kornpitak Atassuwan, confirmed that Chuen was investigated for three separate offences. Inappropriate language towards a passenger could attract a fine of up to 5,000 baht.

The legality of the vehicle’s use as a taxi was also under scrutiny. While the car had green license plates indicating it was registered as a taxi, it was being used via an online app, which might not align with its official registration. This could result in a fine of up to 2,000 baht. Lastly, Chuen’s behaviour could be seen as damaging to the reputation of Thailand or Phuket, which might lead to his licence being suspended for 180 days.

The PLTO plans to proceed with its investigation of the incident, and if Chuen is found guilty of any offence, it will enforce the appropriate legal measures.

In the meantime, Kornpitak urged all taxi drivers to remember their responsibility to their passengers, particularly as Phuket sees an influx of tourists. He encouraged them to treat tourists with the same care and respect they would show to guests in their own homes.

Phuket taxi driver faces 180-day suspension for harassing student | News by Thaiger
Pictures courtesy of Phuket News.
Phuket taxi driver faces 180-day suspension for harassing student | News by Thaiger
Picture of the alleged taxi driver who harassed his passenger, courtesy of Phuket News.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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