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Thai driver in Phuket charged with intimidating S’pore tourist over $3.90 dispute

Provincial police in Thailand’s Phuket island have charged a van driver over threatening a Singaporean tourist in the popular tourist destination, after a video showing their interaction on Sunday was circulated online.

A van driver for the Hatyai World Tour travel agency, Poramet Soraket, surrendered himself at the Mueang Phuket police station on Monday, said local police chief Pratuang Pholmana.

Poramet, 47, was wanted by the police to assist in investigations after a video was shared on social media, in which he appeared to be verbally abusing a tourist, identified by police as 35-year-old Singaporean Faris Abdul Kadir Basharahil. 

Mr Faris made a police report on Sunday.

In the video, a man in a red shirt can be seen approaching another man in a white and red Ajax Amsterdam football shirt, raising his arm and threatening to land a backhanded slap on the second man, causing him to flinch and back away.

Both men are seen standing by the side of the road where a van emblazoned with the words Hatyai World Tour on its side is parked, while two suitcases stand on the pavement.

After the second man moves his suitcase off the street to sit outside a cafe, the first man approaches again while remonstrating angrily.

Throughout the footage, the man in red can be seen holding a rod-like item behind his back.

Other tourists sitting in the van can also be seen witnessing the exchange.

The first disagreement between the two arose when Mr Faris, who started his journey in Krabi, refused to pay the tour agency driver an additional 100 baht (S$3.90) fee to be taken to his intended destination - the Grand Supicha City Hotel - said the police on Monday.

The hotel in Phuket is about 1km away from the cafe where he was dropped.

It was unclear where they had initially agreed the Singaporean tourist should alight, but Hat Yai World Tour offers four-hour rides from its office in Krabi to a Phuket bus terminal, more than 4km away from Mr Faris’ hotel, for around 550 baht.

Mr Faris was also dissatisfied with how Poramet had unloaded his luggage from the van brusquely, the police said, adding that the driver got angry when the Singaporean made a comment and snapped a photo of him.

Phuket police also clarified that the item Poramet appeared to be holding was a rubber hose, without explaining why he held on to it while accosting the tourist.

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Posted by ตำรวจภูธรจังหวัดภูเก็ต Phuket Provincial Police on Monday, July 3, 2023

Colonel Pratuang credited the Thai man for not escalating the incident into a physical assault and his willingness to cooperate by presenting himself at the police station.

He was set to be charged for “frightening a person by use of threat” at a district court and faces a fine of 1,000 baht and a one-month jail term.

He was also reported to Phuket’s provincial transport authority.

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