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Move Forward MPs in Phuket set their sights on taxi mafia

PHOTO: Facebook/สมชาติ เตชถาวรเจริญ - พรรคก้าวไกล

The three MPs-elect from the Move Forward Party in Phuket are already rolling up their sleeves and getting to work, although their election success has yet to be officially recognised. The MFP had a clean sweep in Phuket in all three constituencies.

The Phuket News reports that MP-elect Somchart Techathavorncharoen met with the chief of the Phuket Provincial Police on Tuesday, May 23, to discuss a number of Phuket’s “challenges”.

Two of the items on the agenda during Somchart’s meeting with Sermphan Sirikong were the island’s “mafia” taxi drivers and corrupt police officers. Phuket City Police Chief Pratuang Ponmana also attended the meeting, according to the report.

After the meeting, Somchart posted on Facebook that he had raised the issue of Phuket “green-plate” taxi drivers verbally abusing taxi drivers from approved ride-hailing apps. He used the example of one such app driver, a woman named as Ms Thitima, who was recently abused as she picked up a passenger in Patong at night. There have been plenty of other instances recorded and shared on social media.

Somchart points out that Ms Thitima was fully legal and registered with the Phuket Land Transport Office. He has criticised the so-called “mafia” taxi drivers for their behaviour, pointing out that it risks destroying the island’s reputation. To date, lukewarm attempts by Phuket officials to address the issue have proved unsuccessful. Similar attempts have been made by successive governments, including the generals following the 2014 coup – all failures in trying to crack the corruption rings and taxi cabals.

During their meeting, police chief Sermphan acknowledged that taxi drivers have no exclusive rights to pick passengers up at certain taxi ranks or other areas. Somchart has urged people in his constituency (Talad Yai, Talad Neua, Koh Kaew, and Ratsada) to film such incidents if they witness them and to report them to both him and the police.

And on the subject of police… Somchart also has police corruption in his sights. While chatting with Sermphan, he raised the issue of police officers (or those impersonating police officers) demanding bribes and said he had received “complaints about being extorted by the police to collect tribute on a monthly basis”.

“The police confirmed that the police department does not extort monthly tribute. So, I proposed setting up an ambush to arrest them together so that they would know which agency they came from or if they were just imposters.”

Somchart added that Pratuang Ponmana, chief of Phuket City Police, agreed with his suggestion.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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