Swiss man’s nightmare continues: Uli Fehr’s visa revoked, detained by authorities, branded a threat to society. Amidst legal battles, Fehr’s business is being scrutinised. Public outrage persists over his alleged assault on a Thai female doctor. Interior Minister Anutin stands firm on the visa decision. Fehr’s turbulent saga unfolds as public scrutiny intensifies into a number of incidents where he behaved aggressively.

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on Friday dismissed any prospect of Swiss national Uli Fehr having his visa reinstated. The 45-year-old Swiss man continues to find himself at the centre of a storm of controversy. Public outrage related to his alleged assault on February 24 of a Thai female doctor in Phuket is constant. On that night he allegedly kicked 26-year-old Dr Thandao Chandam in the back. In addition, in the last few days, details have emerged of another altercation with an ambulance driver on Christmas Day last year. At the same time, Mr Fehr’s business activities in Phuket are under the microscope. On March 7th, the Swiss expat was briefly detained by police before being released on bail. At the same time, a top Immigration Bureau officer branded him a threat to society.

Uli Fehr in recent days as he showed the media his injured toe. He denies assaulting Thai doctor Dr Thandao Chandam on Yamu Beach in Phuket on February 24th last. On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul (inset left) suggested that an appeal by Mr Fehr into the revocation of his visa was likely to fail.

There was no respite for Swiss man Uli Fehr this week. His nightmare which began with a video recorded by himself continued to descend into hellish territory.

At length, he found his visa revoked. In addition, an order for his detention was issued instead of having his annual business visa renewed on March 13th.

At the same time, the steps at his villa where he allegedly assaulted a 26-year-old doctor were demolished.

Previously, Pa Khlok municipality had ordered it removed. This came after investigators confirmed it was on public land.

Probes into Mr Fehr’s business affairs. Details emerged mid-week of a Christmas Day altercation with Phuket ambulance driver Wibul Horbut and new charges

Meanwhile, other probes have now been opened into his business affairs.

However, there was a surprise in recent days when it emerged that Mr Fehr was already involved in another altercation with a Thai national just weeks ago.

This was on Christmas Day 2023, on the Thepkasattri Road in Thalang. Mr Fehr was driving a newly purchased Audi sports utility vehicle. In short, he cut across an ambulance in Phuket.

Following this, he made a crude gesture to the emergency services driver. Similarly, he cursed at him. In turn, the ambulance driver, identified as Mr Wibul Horbut, posted a video of the incident on social media.

Afterwards, Mr Wibul found himself facing a criminal charge under the Computer Crime Act.

At length, however, the matter appeared to have been resolved this week by local police at Thalang Police Station.

Both Mr Wibul and Mr Fehr paid ฿1,000 each for criminal defamation.

However, 45-year-old Uli Fehr was also fined and convicted of dangerous and reckless driving.

He was fined ฿4,000. Mr Fehr presented a bouquet to a visibly relieved Mr Wibul at the conclusion of their legal tussle.

In brief, the Swiss man still denies assaulting Dr Thandao. Last week, he showed an image of his injured toes.

At length, he claims a slip led him to impact the woman that night at Yamu Beach with his foot.

Swiss man’s visa is revoked, he is detained by Immigration Bureau police and branded a threat to society by a regional commander. Given leave to appeal

In the meantime, it was after the finalisation of these charges and pending his case before Phuket Provincial Court for assault, that the Immigration Bureau chief for the region, Police Major General Songprote Sirisukha, revoked Mr Fehr or David’s visa. Similarly, he is prohibited from seeking a new visa in the meantime.

The decision was made on the basis of character. Mr Fehr was deemed a danger to the public and society.

At length, it is understood that the Swiss national is appealing the decision under the 1979 Immigration Act. He was given leave to lodge such an application in Phuket this week.  

However, this decision ultimately rests with the Minister of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul who appears ill-disposed to relief.

In addition, Mr Fehr was detained by Immigration Bureau police after his visa was revoked.

At 9 pm on Thursday, March 7 Police Colonel Parinya Klinkasorn of Immigration Bureau Division One gave details. He confirmed that Ms Khanuengkit Fehr, the Swiss man’s wife, had secured bail for him.

Violent assault in Trang province on Tuesday fans the flames of hostility towards foreigners misbehaving in Thailand. Rise in public disquiet about expats

Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding the Swiss national and his alleged assault on a Thai woman in Phuket continues to generate outrage.

Certainly, this feeling has been fanned further this week by other assaults by foreigners on Thai women.

In particular, a very violent and indeed savage assault by 62-year-old Dieter Matthias Straumann on an elderly woman in Trang province. That was on Tuesday, March 5th. Mr Straumann is another Swiss national.

Another even more serious assault by a Swiss man on a frail Thai woman as Uli Fehr has his visa revoked
Public anger boils over in Sunday protests in Phuket against Swiss man Mr Uli and private beaches
Swiss man’s seaside paradise turns sour as Phuket police press assault charges after doctor’s complaint

That incident and another in Pattaya last Sunday linked with a UK man have raised concerns. There is now an uneasy public attitude towards foreign residents in Thailand.

Nevertheless, it was the incident on February 24 or Makha Bucha Day that captured national attention. It occurred on Yamu Beach in an area which Uli Fehr deemed private property. Subsequently, it turned out it was public land.

The video of the incident, recorded by Fehr himself, is quite damning. At length, it shows threatening behaviour towards two young Thai women in the dark of the night.

He is also alleged to have kicked Dr Thandoa Chandam in the back with the video soundtrack suggesting this.

Nonetheless, Mr Fehr claims he stubbed his toe leading to the impact with the Thai woman.

Range of investigations and probes into the Swiss man’s affairs and broader issues raised by an incensed public over the February 24 incident and video

Following this, various probes into the Swiss man were instigated.

The case and its aftermath extend into broader issues such as foreign ownership of a company and a foundation in Thailand.

Additionally, there is also general public outrage over beach encroachment and legal accountability. In short, corruption.

In the meantime, Interior Minister Anutin has come out as implacably opposed to the reinstatement of Fehr’s visa. His recent scathing remarks underlined the gravity of the situation from the Swiss man’s point of view.

Fehr, managing director of Elephant Sanctuary Park Co, faces a charge of purportedly kicking Dr Thandao Chandam of Dubik Hospital.

This was below his seashore villa on Yamu Beach in the Thalang district of Phuket. The incident ignited a firestorm of controversy, prompting swift action from authorities and public outcry.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul enters the arena. Mr Fehr’s visa will not be reinstated on appeal if it comes before him

On Friday, the Minister of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul was explicit. He referred to a reported pending appeal by Mr Fehr against the revocation of his visa.

Anutin’s unequivocal statement rejected outright any possibility of reinstating Fehr’s visa. In it, the Bhumjaithai Party leader sent a clear message.

‘Anyone who wishes to see his visa reinstated? Not under this interior minister’s watch,’ he said. Deputy Prime Minister Anutin was on a visit to Si Sa Ket in northeastern Thailand.

Despite pending court proceedings, Anutin emphasised that the visa revocation decision remains independent of the legal case.

‘The court case can continue. It has nothing to do with the visa issue,’ he clarified. Mr Anutin reaffirmed the government’s commitment to upholding the rule of law.

Anutin expresses frustration with Phuket’s governor

At the same time, amidst the furore surrounding Fehr’s case, the absence of Phuket governor Sophon Suwannarat irked Anutin. The deputy PM even hinted at cutting short the governor’s overseas trip. Anutin expressed clear frustration at the governor’s absence.

‘I really want to order the Phuket governor back from Germany now. He is at a tourism fair,’ the minister said. ‘I will urgently order him to come back because of a bunch of problems there.’ 

Governor Sophon, appointed to the role in October 2023, was thought to be attending an international tourism trade fair in Berlin.

The fair ITB Berlin, the world’s largest, is on the itinerary of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. The PM is on another foreign trip, this time to France and Germany. Earlier this week, he was in Australia.

Fehr’s firm generated ฿46 million in income. However, it did not use nominee shareholders in an improper way. No issues were found at his sanctuary

Meanwhile, concerns about foreign ownership and compliance with regulations in the tourism sector have come under scrutiny. 

The Business Development Department’s inspection revealed numerous firms in Phuket using local nominees. This is a practice used to get around Thailand’s strict ownership laws. 

At the same time, in this investigation, there was some good news for Mr Fehr this week. 

His company Elephant Sanctuary Park Co. was found not to be using foreign nominees in an abusive manner. In short, it was one of 59 firms linked with foreign tourism examined in Phuket.

Inspectors working with the Department of Business Administration found that 51% of the firm was held by Thais.

This included the Swiss man’s wife Ms Khanuengkit and another Thai shareholder. In effect, the company was genuinely incorporated from this point of view.

Officials are examining Mr Fehr’s use of both a private firm and a licenced foundation to operate his elephant conservation sanctuary on the resort island

In addition, inspectors who visited the elephant centre found it complied with animal welfare requirements.

However, questions are being raised about the dual use of a foundation and a private company for the undertaking. Significantly, officials disclosed it generated not less than ฿46 million in income.

This appears to be linked to a charge of ฿1,500 per visit for non-adult tourists and ฿2,500 per adult. 

Officials are looking at the treatment of funds within the business as with any other firm. At this point, they assess that all seems to be in order.

Nevertheless, Mr Fehr must be perturbed by his short detention this week after his visa was revoked. In turn, his status in Thailand has changed immeasurably.

He was only released after his wife paid ฿100,000 in bail security. This was for the purpose of allowing him to fight the case. Presently, his permission to stay in Thailand is on the basis of a suspect visa. This is for 90 days at a time.

Conditions of his bail include reporting to police every 15 days. In addition, Fehr may not work and at the same time, may not leave the kingdom. He must live at his confirmed address in Phuket as he awaits his day in court.

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