Wan to the rescue?
- Published: 3/02/2012 at 10:51 AM
- Online news:
Facing problems with extortion, intimidation and unfair competition, Bangkok motorcycle taxi drivers are hoping for help from Wan Yubamrung, son of the deputy prime minister.
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Wan Yubamrung, adviser to the deputy transport minister, walks alongside a motorcycle taxi driver in Soi Bearing (Sukhumvit Soi 107) in Samut Prakan. Mr Wan met the taxi drivers yesterday following complaints that some police and military officers extort money from them. SOMCHAI POOMLARD
Wan hits the road to fight gangs extorting motorbike taxi drivers
Adviser to the deputy transport minister Wan Yubamrung hit the road yesterday – riding pillion on a motorbike to do battle with extortion gangs and unlicensed motorcycle taxis.
Mr Wan visited the Pienpin and Lanthong motorcycle taxi queues near Soi Bearing BTS station in Bang Na district along with 200 members of the Association of Motorcycle Taxi Drivers (AMTD).
The outing came after Mr Wan was given the assignment on Tuesday by Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan to look into extortion and intimidation complaints by the AMTD.
After talking with the drivers as well as taking a ride on a motorcycle to another queue, Mr Wan said he would send a request to his father, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm, to send in police to intervene and eliminate the extortion.
Asked when people could expect the problem to end, Mr Wan said he does not have a timeframe yet.
AMTD president Chalerm Changthongmadan said its members are coerced to pay protection money ranging from 30 baht to 150 baht a day to extortion gangs or face physical assault.
The gangs not only demand protection payments, but they also collect monthly rents, force their own drivers into the queues, and establish unregistered queues right next to legitimate ones.
The Pienpin queue members said they used to make a monthly payment of 42,000 baht in rent to men in uniform.
One day a retired army colonel who they knew only by the name of Pongsak said the property owner wanted to boost the rent to 45,000 baht and raise the number of drivers by 20 a shift.
The additional unregistered drivers put a strain on the registered ones who were already struggling to make all the payments demanded.
When they reported the incident to the police, they were told to go to the army instead because the police said they were outranked.
Mr Chalerm said the situation at Pienpin queue is just the start.
"About 90% of all motorcycle taxi drivers in Bangkok are being intimidated and forced into paying protection money. When a queue leader refuses, they will just take him out," said Mr Chalerm.
He said there are about 190,000 drivers in the Bangkok metropolitan area but only 130,000 drivers and 4,453 queues out of more than 5,000 queues are registered.
Influential people or high-ranking officials are often behind the formation of unregistered queues and drivers.
AMTD secretary Kittipong Sansern said the registration and oversight committee introduced in 2003 during former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's government helped eliminate the extortion schemes.
"The committee made sure extortion didn't happen but when the coup ousted Thaksin, his policies were overturned and the extortionists returned," said Mr Kittipong.
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adviser – a person who gives advice, especially somebody who knows a lot about a particular subject ที่ปรึกษา
deputy – a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง
complaint – when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory การร้องเรียน
extort – to try to illegally obtain something by force or threat รีดไถ
hit the road – to begin a journey of some kind
pillion rider – a person who rides behind the driver of a motorcycle ผู้ที่นั่งบนเบาะนั่งซ้อนท้าย (รถจักรยานยนต์, จักรยาน)
unlicensed – not having a license or the correct papers to do something ไม่ได้ตีทะเบียน, นอกกฎหมาย
queue – a line of people waiting for something คิว
association – an official group of people who have joined together for a particular purpose สมาคม
outing – a short trip that you normally go on for pleasure or education, การเดินทางท่องเที่ยวระยะสั้น
assignment – a task or piece of work that somebody is given to do, usually as part of their job or studies งานที่ได้รับมอบหมาย
intimidation – deliberately making someone feel frightened, especially so that they will do what you want ขู่ขวัญ
intervene – to become involved in a situation in order to try to stop or change it แทรกแซง
eliminate – to get rid of completely กำจัดหรือขจัดให้หมดไป
timeframe – a period of time when something happens or must happen เงื่อนเวลา
coerce – to persuade someone forcefully to do something which they are unwilling to do บีบบังคับ
physical – involving people touching or hitting each other a lot ออกแรง
assault – attacking someone violently การทำร้ายร่างกาย
rent – paying money for the use of something for a period of time ค่าเช่า
establish – to start something, in this case, a queue ก่อตั้ง, จัดตั้ง
register – to put your name and other information on an official list in order to be allowed to do something, e.g., vote, study, stay in a hotel etc ลงทะเบียน
unregistered – not having officially registered to do something; unlicensed
legitimate – allowed by the law, or correct according to the law ชอบด้วยกฎหมาย
men in uniform – police or members of the military
retired – no longer working because you have reached the age where you are officially too old to work เกษียณอายุ
colonel – an officer of high rank in the army, the marines, or the air force พันเอก
boost – to increase เพิ่ม
shift – a period of work time in a factory, hospital or other place where some people work during the day and some work at night เวร, กะ หรือระยะเวลาทำงานเป็นช่วงๆ,
strain – pressure on somebody/something because they have too much to do or manage, or something very difficult to deal with; the problems, worry or anxiety that this produces ความตึงเครียด
struggling – having serious difficulties มีความยุ่งยาก
incident – something that happens, usually something bad เหตุการณ์
outrank – to be of higher rank, quality, etc. than somebody มีตำแหน่งหรือสถานภาพสูงกว่า
refuse – to say you will not do something that someone has asked you to do ปฏิเสธ
take someone out – to remove someone, often by killing them
influential person – a person who has the power to affect a situation, especially in a bad way ผู้มีอิทธิพล
metropolitan – relating to a large city เกี่ยวกับเมืองใหญ่
high-ranking – senior; important ที่อยู่ชั้นสูง
formation – the process during which something develops or is created การสร้าง
oversight – the state of being in charge or in control of somebody/something หน้าที่ควบคุมดูแล
scheme – a plan that is developed by a government or large organisation in order to provide a particular service for people แผนการ โครงการ
coup (d’etat) – the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces รัฐประหาร
ousted – forced out of a position of power ขับออกจากอำนาจ
overturn – to officially decide that a policy, legal decision, etc. is not correct, and to make it no longer valid ล้มล้าง พลิกคว่ำ
About the author
- Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Education Marketing and Support Manager