ILLEGAL TAXI DRIVER IN PHUKET ESCAPES RAPE CHARGE WITH SUSPENDED SENTENCE – In May 2013 meebal.com reported on the disturbing case of a 19 year old Chinese tourist who was abducted by one of the hundreds of illegal taxi cabs on the holiday island of Phuket, Thailand.
After picking up the 19 year old Chinese tourist Paitoon Kruain, 26, drove her around Phuket for hours before attempting to rape her.
Her screams alerted the attention of passers-by and it was then that she was freed from his clutches and unwanted attention.
This week a judge initially sentenced Paitoon Kruain to 26 months in prison and was fined 21,000 Thai Baht (approx £400) for his crime. However, as normal with Thai justice, Paitoon Kruain pleaded guilty to all charges of abduction and attempted rape and therefore automatically had his sentence and fine halved.
During the trail prosecutors told the judge that Paitoon Kruain had been under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine’s, however the defence pleaded that this was in fact his first offence.
Due to the legal arguments on both sides the judge decided leniency was the better course of action and therefore suspended his sentence; effectively allowing him to walk away without any form of punishment.
The 19 year old Chinese tourist remained on Phuket in order to provide evidence in the trail and hopefully see justice done. Unfortunately she left Phuket shortly after the trial returning to China knowing that justice for her was nothing more than a farce.
Taxi drivers both legal and illegal have continuously brought Phuket’s holiday destination reputation into question with never ending news reports of extortion, intimidation and actual violence.
The result of this case will no doubt have many foreign officials shaking their heads in disbelief that someone high on drugs and alcohol whilst illegally operating a tourist service was allowed to walk free.
No mention of the fact that he was operating a tourist related service was bought up in the court and once again there are those who feel that the mafia gangs behind the illegal taxi services are too powerful and will protect their drivers at all costs.
Earlier this year the Chinese Ambassador warned officials on Phuket that if they didn’t clean up their act and started to protect Chinese tourists the Chinese Government would close off Chinese tourism by refusing to allow Chinese citizens to travel to Thailand.
The tourism market for Chinese tourists, especially on the island of Phuket, runs into millions of people and has the potential for millions more.
With other travelers from other destinations, notably Europe, drying up due to the long standing issues of safety and scams, any downturn in the Chinese tourist market could almost wipe out tourism.
Meebal.com spoke to one insider source for their take on the situation…
“Tourism remains reasonably buoyant despite the troubles. This issue with illegal taxis has long been a bone of contention with foreign diplomats and yet very little progress by the Thai authorities appears to be done.
There is talk of powerful figures behind the illegal taxi cabs, known locally as ‘Black Taxis’ who control all of the public transport on Phuket.
For years the public have tried to get the authorities to implement a public bus service in order to complete with the taxis however this has always resulted in either excuses by the authorities as to why such a service cannot be implement or by direct threats of violence from the taxi drivers.
There was recently a public bus service that started up but Phuket International Airport refused to allow them to enter the grounds in order to pick up or drop off passengers – thus defeating the whole objective.
It was said at the time that those behind the scenes applied pressure by the way of an under-the-table payment or threats of violence if the Airport officials allowed the buses to pick up and drop off passengers.
This situation continues and unfortunately there is no end in sight – this might well be one of the elements that finally kills the golden goose of tourism for Phuket.”
Thailand is not unique in handing out suspended sentences for serious crimes; indeed the UK has its fair share of controversy over the issue. However with the Chinese Government bearing down and threatening to restrict or cut off much needed tourism you might have thought that the judicial system would have made an example of Paitoon Kruain in the case in order to display that they are working on changing things for the better.