Minister of the Interior Anutin expresses fury at foreign misconduct in Phuket. Calls for firmness and less leniency. The senior government minister calls for a decisive crackdown on lawbreaking expats and tourists. Time for strict enforcement including visa revocation against anyone who harasses local people.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul expressed anger at the misbehaviour of foreigners in Phuket. Deputy Prime Minister Anutin described the current outbreak of lawbreaking by foreigners on the island including tourists and expats, as insulting to the Thai people. At length, he urged local police officials to get tough. He said it was time to stop being so considerate of law-breaking foreigners.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul urged officials in Phuket to get tougher with misbehaving foreigners on the island. He said it was time to stop being considerate. Mr Anutin called for revoking the visa of any foreigner who harasses locals to make a living. His comments came a day after an Austrian tourist, 58-year-old Gernot Kuhberger, attacked his limousine driver after being told he could not smoke. The tourist had just arrived at Phuket International Airport. At length, he was being taken to his accommodation on the island.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Anutin Charnvirakul, on Thursday, saw red about legal transgressions by foreigners in Phuket.  

In short, he expressed his annoyance at what he termed the insulting behaviour of foreigners on the holiday island.

The deputy PM, in turn, urged a firmer stance on maintaining law and order in Phuket. At length, he insisted all people in Thailand, including foreigners, must respect the law.

The Bhumjaithai Party leader’s outrage stems from a multitude of recent incidents in Phuket since February. 

Anutin vows to crack down on foreign mafia and grey area operations. He said anyone found harassing local people in Thailand for a living must be deported

The period has seen egregious behaviour and wrongdoing by foreign tourists. In addition, Mr Anutin vowed to crack down on grey foreign groups and mafia activities.

In a press briefing on April 4, 2024, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Mr Anutin Charnvirakul, made known his deep concern.

At the same time, he urged law enforcement officials to be less considerate of foreign lawbreakers.

He declared that any foreigner making a living through the harassment of Thai people should have their visas immediately revoked.

He referred to foreign elements making trouble throughout the island on the Andaman Sea.

Certainly, Mr Anutin’s comments reflect public opinion.

Phuket tourism boss concerned that the ‘feelings’ of locals on the island may be provoked by foreigners

Following several high-profile incidents, local feelings on the island are understood to be running high.

Indeed, so much so that a top business leader Mr Thaneth Tantipiriyakij of the Phuket Business Association, last week, warned the situation was approaching boiling point.

A number of high-profile incidents have inflamed public opinion against foreigners. A respected business leader warns local feelings are at boiling point

The incidents include the physical assault of a young female doctor by a resident Swiss businessman on February 24. This incident was ironically videotaped by the perpetrator, 45-year-old Uli Fehr.

The video clip sparked howls of protest and anger. In it, a shadowy European can be heard speaking coarsely to two young women on a beachfront. In addition, the foreigner appeared to kick one of the women in the back. 

This was followed by the March 16th attack on an on-duty police officer by two New Zealand brothers.

The pair, Hamish and Oscar Day snatched the officer’s gun and pistol-whipped him with it.

Swiss man Uli Fehr’s hellish Thai nightmare as he is detained and branded as a threat to society
New Zealand men face serious charges after a violent attack on a police officer in Phuket on Saturday

However, reports suggest some uneasiness about that incident. 

There are claims that tension between locals and foreign tourists has now become a driving factor in the problem.

Mafia groups have become embedded on the island

Nonetheless, the recent surge in incidents involving violent, criminal and lawless behaviour by foreigners in Phuket cannot be denied. It ranges from murder or assault to elaborate fraud and extreme physical violence.

In effect, much of it is linked to a growing cohort of Russian tourists who have settled on the island. Similarly, this is linked to the Russian-Ukraine War.

In addition, local police sources suggest links with Eastern European, Central Asian and Chinese mafia groups who have become embedded in the economy.

On April 2nd, Tuesday, in Phuket a Ukrainian tourist ordered a taxi from the airport to a local hotel. 

Ukrainian ignores the law in Phuket. Refuses to pay a taxi fare, sets herself up in a hotel foyer and simply exits a Police Station after being detained over a dispute

The young woman, on arrival, appeared to set up camp in the foyer of the establishment. Afterwards, her taxi driver sought payment and was threatened with a knife.

Previously, the Ukrainian had requested a number of detours to visit coastal locations.

She had simply exited the taxi and ignored the driver, a Thai woman identified as 35-year-old Ms Ladda Saengthong.

The Ukrainian was identified as 30-year-old Nadiya Serhiivana Varshava. In brief, she is known to be a Portuguese-born woman living in Ukraine.

When later taken by police for questioning along with the taxi driver, she simply exited the police station.

Anutin calls for decisive action on Phuket against ‘misconduct’ by both Thais and foreigners including ‘individuals who engage in disruptive behaviour’

On Thursday, Mr Anutin underlined the importance of upholding law and order.

The Interior Minister ordered intensive action against foreigners who disregard Thai laws.

‘Phuket Province sees a significant influx of tourists from around the world, and while most visitors adhere to the laws and regulations, there are some individuals who engage in disruptive behaviour,’ declared Minister Anutin. ‘It is imperative that we utilise the full extent of the law to address such misconduct. Whether Thai or foreign, everyone must respect the law and ensure the safety and well-being of others.’

Anutin further expressed his frustration at instances where Thai people were insulted or mistreated by foreigners.

‘As a Thai citizen, I find it unacceptable to witness any form of disrespect towards our people. Thailand welcomes visitors with open arms, but mutual respect is essential. Foreigners must understand that they are subject to the same laws and regulations as Thai citizens.’

Anyone who flouts the law to face severe consequences including visa revocation and legal proceedings 

The Deputy Prime Minister underscored the consequences for those who fail to comply with the law. 

‘Anyone who causes trouble or violates the law will face severe repercussions, including the revocation of visas, police involvement, and legal proceedings,’ warned Anutin. ‘We will not tolerate foreign mafias operating in our country and harassing Thai people. Those at fault will be held accountable.

Anutin urged government officials not to hesitate in taking action against foreigners who disrupt peace and order in Phuket.

‘Our officials must remain steadfast and assertive in enforcing the law,’ he emphasised. ‘Respecting Thai laws is non-negotiable for anyone residing in Thailand. Those who choose to flout the law will face the consequences.’

In addition, reflecting on past incidents, Anutin highlighted the effectiveness of law enforcement measures. 

‘We have observed that swift and decisive action yields positive outcomes. Visa cancellations, police interventions, and court proceedings have served as deterrents against further misconduct,’ he noted. ‘Thailand is a country governed by laws, not chaos. We have robust legal mechanisms in place to maintain order and uphold justice.’

Phuket Provincial Court to bring back its special section for foreign tourists which was previously closed during the pandemic says acting chief justice

Previously, on Thursday also, in response to the surge in tourism-related cases, the Phuket Provincial Court announced plans to reopen its dedicated tourist section.

Acting Chief Justice Kriangsak Rodpunshoo affirmed the court’s commitment to ensuring justice for tourists involved in criminal or civil disputes. In short, this had previously been opened in 2017 but was closed in 2020 during the pandemic.

‘Our priority is to safeguard the rights of tourists and uphold the rule of law,’ explained Mr Kriangsak. ‘By providing legal protection and assistance to visitors, we aim to enhance confidence in Phuket and Thailand’s tourism sector.’

However, challenges persist in addressing misconduct by foreign visitors.

A shocking incident on Wednesday involving an Austrian tourist assaulting a taxi driver is the latest outrage.

Another outrageous and bizarre incident on Wednesday saw an Austrian tourist seriously assault and choke a limousine driver after not being allowed to smoke

On Wednesday, a limousine service collected 58-year-old Mr Gernot Kuhberger from Phuket International Airport. The car was a Toyota Camry with a strict no-smoking policy. 

Details of what happened were later given to reporters by Police Lieutenant Colonel Yuthaphon Watthasate of Thalang Police Station.

The taxi driver was 62-year-old Mr Wuttiporn Chaimongkhon. He told police he was taking the tourist to an address in the Chalong area of Phuket.

When the car reached Baan Muang Mai in Thalang, some 30 metres from the police station, Mr Kuhberger began smoking a cigarette. His driver informed him of the no-smoking policy.

In response, the Austrian tourist moved his body weight into the front of the car. At length, he began to choke the car driver in a stranglehold and subsequently, an elbow lock.

Consequently, the driver lost control of the car. After that, it crashed into a stationary red MG car. This was owned by 40-year-old Mr Thanongsak Sonpat.

Mr Kuhberger appeared to be transformed while at Thalang Police Station. With a friendly demeanour to all, he agreed to pay for the damage to both cars

Mr Thanongsak told police he saw the distressed driver falling out of the car with Mr Kuhberger still choking him. In truth, he thought the Austrian foreigner appeared to be intoxicated or under some sort of influence.

Certainly, his behaviour was bizarre, unfathomable. Together with another member of the public, Mr Thanongsak wrestled the foreigner off the unfortunate limousine driver.

Later at Thalang Police Station, Mr Kuhberger appeared to show another side. In a friendly display, he agreed to pay for the damages in relation to both cars. He appeared smiling and on good terms with his driver, Mr Wuttiporn.

However, police still charged the Austrian with assault.

He is to appear before Phuket Provincial Court on criminal charges. Afterwards, it was reported that Mr Wuttiporn was taken to hospital due to his injuries.

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Further reading:

Rabid Russian assaults police team in Phuket after going berserk at a city centre hotel on Tuesday

Phuket tourism boss concerned that the ‘feelings’ of locals on the island may be provoked by foreigners

New Zealand men face serious charges after a violent attack on a police officer in Phuket on Saturday

Swiss man Uli Fehr’s hellish Thai nightmare as he is detained and branded as a threat to society

Russian murdered in Phuket at a residence converted into a cannabis factory. Main suspect just flew out

Hard-boiled Russians arrested for violent extortion deny charges. Tell police they are just normal tourists

Intimidated Russian couple ask Royal Thai police to join Thailand’s Witness Protection Programme in Ko Samui

Russian mafia gang extort young Russian couple out of $50k at a local coffee shop on Ko Samui

Drug party racket busted on Ko Samui with 47 year old Russian arrested in Immigration Bureau raid on home

A Russian man assaulted by protest leader at Pattaya rally leaving his 10-year-old daughter hysterical

The Russian couple arrested, charged and fined for having sex in public on a Pattaya beach shown on video clip

Russian faces counterfeit charges after gifting toy money to bar staff while also paying in baht

Stranded Russians offered free food in Phuket as Aeroflot begins to airlift over 21,000 stranded home to safety