Outrage in Phuket as UK tourist assaults Tuk Tuk driver over fare dispute. Arrested three days later at a luxury hotel on Ko Phi Phi off Krabi. Violent altercation recorded at length on a video clip sparks another local outcry among a population whose patience is tested.

Another foreign tourist has found himself in extremely hot water in Phuket. On Tuesday, a Thai police task force arrested a visibly distressed 35-year-old UK tourist at a luxury hotel on Ko Phi Phi, off Krabi. Luke Graham was wanted on a warrant issued by Phuket Provincial Court. It came following an assault on a young Tuk Tuk driver in the early hours of Saturday morning. The fracas between the Tuk Tuk driver and the enraged UK tourist was caused by a dispute over payment of the taxi fare. At length, the UK man claimed to have paid ฿1,000 and wanted change, while the Thai man insisted he had only received ฿100.

The scene on Tuesday as police arrest 35-year-old Luke Alexander Graham on foot of an arrest warrant issued by Phuket Provincial Court. (Inset left) Scenes from video footage inside the Tuk Tuk from early on Saturday morning showing a fierce Mr Graham attacking the young Tuk Tuk driver identified as Mr Abdullah Sasahe.

Another egregious incident involving a Western foreigner has occurred in Phuket.

On Wednesday, 35-year-old UK national Mr Luke Alexander Graham appeared before Phuket Provincial Court. He was charged with assault causing physical and mental harm.

Arrested by police on Ko Phi Phi off Krabi on Tuesday on foot of an arrest warrant issued by Phuket Provincial Court. Rights were read to him in English

Mr Graham was arrested on Tuesday by a team of detectives at his hotel on Phi Phi island in Krabi. The UK tourist appeared shocked and anxious as a senior officer read him the arrest warrant, translated into English, informing him of his rights.

In short, the UK man was taken back to Karon Police Station in Phuket. He later appeared before Phuket Provincial Court and has been remanded in custody.

News of the incident spread rapidly on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday after the brother of the assaulted Tuk Tuk driver posted a video of it online. The incident took place at 4 am approximately in the Karon area of Phuket.

Eventually, the family member encouraged locals in Phuket to share and comment on the incident.

The UK man became violent after insisting he had paid ฿1,000 for his early moring taxi. The Tuk Tuk driver claimed it was only ฿100.

Local people in Phuket, already highly sensitive to farang misbehaviour were incensed that a  hard-working service provider to foreign tourists was abused

By and large, local people were outraged. The sentiment was that a hardworking service provider to wealthy foreign tourists had been set upon. In short, the man had rendered a service at an unseemly time of day and deserved to be paid.

Nonetheless, all he received, according to online comments, was ฿100 and a scary assault.

Certainly, the conclusion of the video shows that the young Thai Tuk Tuk driver was mentally upset after being terrified by the UK man.

At length, the video first shows a fierce UK man arguing with a young Tuk Tuk driver over the payment of a fare.

Mr Graham appears aggressive and certainly under the influence of some intoxicant. Indeed, during the incident, he appeared to be holding a beer bottle.

The British man appeared certain that the Tuk Tuk driver had taken ฿1,000 from him and demanded change. The agreed fare for the trip was ฿400.

Fierce-looking Brit insisted that the driver had taken ฿1,000 from him and his friend. The fare was ฿400 to take the pair from Patong to their Karon hotel

He was travelling with a friend. They had been in the Patong area of Phuket and were to be taken to the Woraburi Hotel in the Karon Sub District of Phuket town.

In turn, the somewhat nervous driver appeared to insist that he had only received ฿100.

‘Give me my ****** money now,’ demanded Mr Graham.

Furthermore, the UK man reached into the Tuk Tuk driver’s cab. At the same time, he slapped the Thai man. The driver has been identified as Mr Abdullah Sasahe. In short, he operates the Tuk Tuk service with his father.

In the course of the heated confrontation, the UK man repeated his demand. ‘Give me the ****** money,’ he is heard saying a number of times.

At one point, he reaches in and appears to grab the young Thai driver by the throat. The Tuk Tuk driver can be heard screaming. Afterwards, he slaps the younger man across the face.

Brit then changed tack. He asked the driver to show him the money he had paid him. However, the Tuk Tuk driver, either too terrified or confused, did not

Finally, Mr Graham changes tack. He asks the Tuk Tuk driver to produce the ฿100 note the driver claims he was paid.

‘Show me what I paid you with,’ he asks. Mr Graham repeats this request two times. However, the Tuk Tuk driver either fails to understand or refuses to cooperate any further with his attacker.

After a final assault with a slap, the UK man appears to relent. ‘****** *****,’ he taunts the Tuk Tuk driver with a vulgar derogatory term.

Meanwhile, he seems to become aware that he has broken the law by assaulting the young Thai. He tells the Tuk Tuk driver that he was lucky to only receive a little slap before further insulting him.

‘A little slap, you ****** *****,’ he said before walking off.

Tuk Tuk driver immediately reported the assault to Karon Police Station and had a checkup at Patong Hospital. Doctors there identified bruising on his face

Following the assault, Mr Abdullah, the taxi driver, went straight to Karon Police Station to report the matter. Subsequently, he attended Patong Hospital for a checkup.

Doctors identified a redness in one of the taxi man’s cheeks, but there were no serious injuries.

The assault and, more significantly, the photos and video footage have inflamed already heightened tensions in Phuket regarding foreign tourists. Currently, businesses and indeed senior officials have expressed unease at the situation.

Certainly, the situation on the island has been tense since the February 24th assault on a Thai female doctor by Swiss business owner Mr Urs Fehr.

Afterwards, there has been a relentless stream of egregious incidents.

These include sexual interference of horses by foreigners living on the island, violent street brawls and public sex displays.

The most recent incident was a foreigner over the weekend who brazenly cut a police chain and padlock on his illegally parked motorbike.

Rising problem in Phuket where local patience is now tested to the limit by the lawlessness of foreigners living there and tourists. Calls for a crackdown

Many observers attribute the deterioration of law and order to the rising number of tourists on the island. In particular, Russian nationals. However, the resort island has a history of anti-foreigner sentiment.

Popular Phuket-based Facebook page attacks foreigners and tourists in Thailand as virus tensions mount
Phuket police promise to charge a foreign man for cutting a chain put on his illegally parked bike

At the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020, a highly popular Facebook page on the island was shuttered after publishing aggressive, xenophobic posts.

Undoubtedly, the government faces a growing challenge in relation to the situation.

Deputy Prime Minister and Ministry of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul has fiercely called on Phuket officials and law enforcement to get tough with foreigners.

Meanwhile, on a visit to the island two weeks ago, the Prime Minister warned that both Phuket and Thailand did not want foreign tourists who fail to respect Thai law.

Social media, growing cultural differences and hardships of those working in the grass root economy play a part in the rising tension seen first in 2020

However, there may be other factors at play, such as the hardships facing local people in a challenging economy.

In addition, there are also cultural differences which are amplified in today’s social media-driven environment.

Similarly, the culture of younger Western tourists is changing. At the same time, geopolitical fault lines may also be playing a part. Again,  the information age powered by the internet plays its part here.

Over the weekend, public outrage grew over the assault on the Tuk Tuk driver. Karon police stepped up their investigation.

Karon police began an investigation to track down the suspect who was arrested on Phi Phi, off Krabi on Tuesday. Now in the custody of Phuket authorities

Firstly, they discovered that Mr Graham had left his hotel in the area and relocated to Krabi. Police Lieutenant Colonel Aeksak Kwanwan, Inspector (Investigation) at Karon Police Station, applied for and was granted an arrest warrant.

A briefing was given to local media at 1 pm on Tuesday by Police Colonel Khun Det Na Nong Khai, the Superintendent of Karon Police Station. He confirmed the identity of both the attacker and the victim.

Subsequently, a police raiding party on Ko Phi Phi off Krabi arrested Mr Graham at his hotel bedroom on the paradise island.

He is now imprisoned in Phuket as the case against him is processed through the courts. 

Claims and counterclaims as UK man admits assault

A key weakness in Mr Graham’s defence is that he was seen carrying a bottle of alcohol.

At the same time, his claims regarding the fare dispute do not excuse his assault on the young Tuk Tuk driver.

In addition, police sources also note an unfortunate aspect of Mr Graham’s case. In particular, that his friend did not witness him paying over the fare.

On Wednesday, as he was escorted to prison, he expressed remorse for how events unfolded.

In short, the UK man knows he should not have resorted to violence. However, he still insisted that he was right about the payment of the taxi fare.

‘You shouldn’t steal money,’ he said.

Nevertheless, Mr Abdullah counterclaims that Mr Graham failed to pay the ฿400 fare due and attempted to deny him ฿300. In addition, he ended up being violently assaulted.

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Further reading:

Phuket police promise to charge a foreign man for cutting a chain put on his illegally parked bike

Anutin tells Swiss man Urs Fehr he should go home as he urges Phuket’s governor to monitor the court case

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

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

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