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"No Japanese passengers"; Bangkok taxis react to FB complaint (updated)

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Some Bangkok taxi drivers are apparently refusing to take Japanese passengers in reaction to the banning of an airport taxi driver at the centre of a Japanese man’s viral Facebook complaint. The taxi drivers' association denies any involvement, however.

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Wednesday morning update

A sign seen in several Bangkok taxis this morning. From twitter page of @mechiga22

The social media storm continues after photos were posted of signs in some Bangkok taxis this morning, saying that they have stopped accepting Japanese passengers, presumably in reaction to the fallout from Koki Aki's Facebook complaint.

Now, people are asking whether or not the taxi drivers have the right to selectively refuse passengers. We should know the answer soon.

14:30 Thai Rath online reports that Mr Tarin Kaenkhunthod, the head of the taxi drivers association, has strongly denied his group is involved with the controversial sign, calling it very inappropriate. He also threatened to take legal action against the person posting the photo of the sign in the social media. 

16:30

Here is more from our online reporters:

The "no Japanese" sign carried the name of the Taxi Driver Pauthai Suvarnabhumi Association, but association president Sadit Jaitiang said the group did not make or sanction it. In an interview with the Bangkok Post, he said it came from members who might have wanted to do something in response to what had happened after Koki's post.

"The association did not approve the sign, as it will damage the association," Mr Sadit said. "The person who put up the sign may be our member, but we didn't see when he put it up."

Land Transport Department director-general Teerapong Rodprasert, meanwhile, said any taxi spotted with such a sign would be fined 1,000 baht.

Mr Sadit also defended his drivers' desire to negotiate fares, particularly drivers of larger vehicles.

He urged the public to consider the situation at the airport where passengers often arrive as a group with four or five pieces of luggage that do not fit in compact-car taxis.

"If you have to go with a large car, should you pay extra? Let talk based on the facts, not the legal issue," he said.

Mr Sadit said small taxis can fit three passengers with two bags. Otherwise the trunk won't close and the driver faces the risk of police fines if spotted.

 "Passengers pay tens of thousands of baht for an air ticket. Why can't they pay a few hundred baht for a negotiated fare," he asked.

He said the Land Transport Department now should take action to set clear fares for small and large taxis, as is done in other countries. He pointed out Japanese taxis, for example, charge higher fares at night.

"If you go to Japan, a taxi ride (from Narita airport to downtown Tokyo) is about 4,000 baht, but in Thailand, it is only a few hundred baht to go to Sukhumvit or Silom," he said. "And the taxi has to go back to the airport with no passengers."

Full details of Mr Aki's complaint below.

Evening update

Koki Aki, the man who made the Facebook complaint against Suvarnabhumi airport and its taxi service, has talked to the Bangkok Post. Here is the story:

Former superhero, child actor Koki regrets fallout from online rant

The Japanese educational volunteer, whose Facebook post about Suvarnabhumi airport’s taxi service went viral Sunday, said he feels “empty” that the driver at the heart of his online rant was banned from working there.

In a Tuesday telephone interview with the Bangkok Post, Koki said that he did not want the man to be punished, which was why he did not ask the driver's name. He did, however, turn in his taxi-queue ticket, which identified Mr Chaiyan, although he believes it was thrown away.

"I feel empty. I didn't want to break his life," Koki said of Mr Chaiyan. "What I experienced was a societal problem that both Thais and foreigners may face when they want to use the taxi service."

Koki Aki in traditional Japanese costume meets children at a community in Thailand. (Image from Koki Aki Facebook)

Koki, a former child actor who now runs a small Internet-based toy business, has visited Thailand regularly for 10 years, working with a colourful group of volunteers to teach proper societal norms to children. For a while, he even dressed up as a superhero and drove a decorated motorcycle through slum areas, distributing toys and snacks while teaching proper courtesies.

The group, organised through the Cosplay Aid Thailand page on Facebook, has members dress-up, Japanese-style, as characters from a movies, comic book and video games to teach students about general ground rules about queuing and sharing. Children are told that if they break rules, such as by jumping the queue or hoarding gifts, the group would not visit the community again.

Koki, who due to copyright issues shed his superhero garb for traditional Japanese dress, will be in Thailand through January, working with slum kids in Yommarat, behind CentralWorld, Klong Toey and Saphan Khwai.

Morning story

"The airport is the most expensive; the airport is the most disgusting. I can say that Suvarnabhumi is an embarrassment to the country of Thailand."

Japanese educational volunteer Koki Aki had no idea what he was starting after he wrote a grumpy post about his arrival experience at Suvarnabhumi last Saturday evening.

Mr Aki, who has lived in Thailand for almost 10 years,  complained about the long immigration lines and particularly the taxi service where he said a driver had attempted to cheat him. The driver refused to use the metre and demanded 700 baht to Bangkok's Saphan Khwai area, double what he normally pays.

Passengers wait in line at a taxi counter at Suvarnabhumi airport in June, 2014. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Mr Aki is obviously not alone in his dissatisfaction with Thailand's premier airport. As of this morning, his post has received 25,000 likes and 15,000 shares.

It has also resulted in some drastic action from airport authorities. Here the latest from the Bangkok Post.

Taxi driver Chaiyan Charoensopha is banned from taking passengers from Suvarnabhumi airport after refusing to use meter to take a Japanese passenger on Saturday. (Suvarnabhumi airport photo)

Airport bans overcharging cabbie

Amornrat Mahitthirook.

Suvarnabhumi airport on Monday banned the taxi driver at the centre of a Japanese tourist’s viral Facebook rant for reportedly refusing to use his meter.

Airport director Prapon Pattamakijsakul signed an order to immediately suspend indefinitely Chaiyan Charoensopha from servicing passengers at Suvarnabhumi and revoked his registration with the facility.

The axe fell on the driver after he admitted to airport officials that he offered a flat-rate fare to Facebook user Koki Aki instead of turning on his meter.

Mr Chaiyan, who drives a Toyota Innova, a sport-utility vehicle, told Mr Aki that the use of his large vehicle demanded a fare of 700 baht to take the Japanese educational volunteer to Bangkok's Saphan Khwai area at 7.45pm Saturday.

An airport staffer suggested Mr Aki and another woman write a complaint to the airport, but the 10-year expat refused, according to the airport director.

Instead, Mr Aki turned keyboard warrior, writing a lengthy post in Thai and Japanese on Facebook detailing his travails at Suvarnabhumi, calling the airport "disgusting" and listing various points he considered poor service, including long immigration lines and staffers using mobile phones while customers waited.

His dispatch went viral, with more than 15,000 people sharing his story, which was picked up by various media outlets.

In the post, he said he complained to a taxi-queue official and another woman but they took no action. He said he later went back to line up for a small taxi that used a meter.

About 5,000 taxis are registered with the airport to transport incoming passengers. All drivers are required to register their name and vehicle with Suvarnabhumi. The airport receives approximately 35 complaints about taxis per month.

Mr Prapon claimed the number of complaints was low compared with 8,500 trips made by meter-taxis every day.

Suvarnabhumi said passengers can lodge complaints about taxi drivers at 02-132-9199 around the clock and suggested they keep a queue number as evidence for investigation.

Mr Aki said, when he made his complaint, the queue official took his queue ticket and threw it away. He had, however, taken a photo of it.

Learn from listening

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Vocabulary:

admitted (verb): agreed that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it - ยอมรับ

approximately : used to show that something is almost, but not completely, accurate or correct - โดยประมาณ

around the clock : throughout the whole day and night; 24 hours - ทั้งวันทั้งคืน

arrival : when someone reaches where they are going (arrives) - ขาเข้า การเข้ามา

association : an official group of people who have joined together for a particular purpose - สมาคม

authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ

axe (noun): an order removing someone from a job - การปลดคนงาน

banned : officially not allowed to do something - ถูกห้าม

claim : to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - อ้าง

community : the people living in one particular area - ชุมชน

compact : using or filling only a small amount of space; smaller than is usual for things of the same kind - ที่ใช้เนื้อที่น้อย, ที่อัดแน่น

complain : to say that you are annoyed, unhappy or not satisfied about somebody/something - บ่น, ร้องทุกข์

complaint : when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory - การร้องเรียน

consider : to give careful thought to something before making a decision - พิจารณา

controversial : causing disagreement or disapproval - ซึ่งก่อให้เกิดการโต้แย้ง

copyright : the legal right to control the production and selling of a book, play, film, photograph or piece of music - ลิขสิทธิ์

courtesy (adj): polite behaviour that shows respect for other people - ความมีมารยาท

decorate : to make something look more attractive by putting nice things on it or in it - ประดับ, ตกแต่ง

defend : to say things to support someone or something - ปกป้อง

demand : to ask for something very firmly - เรียกร้อง, ต้องการ

deny : to say that something is not true - ปฏิเสธ

desire : a strong wish to have or do something - ความอยาก, ความประสงค์, ความต้องการ

detail : to give a list of facts or all the available information about something - อธิบายโดยละเอียด, ชี้แจงรายละเอียด

director : one of a group of senior managers who run a company - กรรมการบริษัท

disgusting : extremely unpleasant or unacceptable - น่ารังเกียจ

dispatch (noun): a message or report that is quickly sent out - ข่าวด่วน, การส่ง, การส่งไปอย่างรวดเร็ว

dissatisfaction : a feeling that you are not pleased and satisfied - ความไม่พอใจ, ความขุ่นเคือง

double : twice as big, twice as much or twice as many - สองเท่า

drastic action : very strong action - มาตรการรุนแรง

embarrassment : a feeling of being nervous or ashamed because of what people know or think about you - ความขวยเขิน, ความกระดากอาย

evidence : facts, signs or objects that make you believe that something is true - หลักฐาน,ข้อแสดง

expatriate (expat) : a person living in a country that is not their own - คนที่อาศัยอยู่ต่างประเทศ (เป็นเวลานาน)

facility : a place, especially including buildings, where a particular activity happens -

fallout : the unpleasant effects of something that has happened - ผลร้ายที่ตามมา

fare : the money that you pay for a journey - ค่าโดยสาร

fine : to be required to pay an amount of money because you have broken the law - ปรับเป็นเงิน

flat-rate : a price that is the same for everyone and in all situations; a single price for a service - ราคาเหมา

garb (noun): clothes; the kind of clothes that a country or a group of people wear -

ground rules (noun): the basic rules on which something is based - หลักเกณฑ์พื้นฐาน, กฎเบื้องต้น

grumpy : unhappy and dissatisfied, often for no obvious reason - อารมณ์เสีย, อารมณ์ไม่ดี

hoard : to collect a large amount of something - เก็บสะสม

identified (verb): named, searched for a discovered - ระบุ

immediately (adv): happening right after something else with no delay; right away - ทันที

immigration (bureau) : the government agency dealing with people entering and leaving the country and those who want to live there - สำนักงานตรวจคนเข้าเมือง

inappropriate : unsuitable - ซึ่งไม่เหมาะสม

indefinitely : for a period of time with no fixed end - ไม่มีข้อกำหนด

interview : a meeting (often a public one) at which a person is asked questions in order to find out their opinions, experiences, etc. - การสัมภาษณ์

investigation : the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened - การสอบสวน, การตรวจสอบหาข้อเท็จจริง

involved (verb): taking part or having a role in something - เกี่ยวข้อง, มีบทบาท

issue : a problem that needs to be considered - ประเด็น

issue : matter; a subject that people discuss or argue about - ประเด็น

keyboard warrior (noun): a writer who has strong opinions about something and attempts to convince other people -

legal : relating to the law - เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย

lodge : to formally make something such as a complaint or a claim - ยื่นคำร้อง ยื่นฟ้องต่อ

luggage (noun): baggage; all the cases and bags that you take with you when you travel - กระเป๋าเดินทาง

meanwhile : at the same time - ในเวลาเดียวกัน

media outlets : newspaper, television, radio companies, etc. -

negotiate : to try to reach an agreement by discussing something in a formal way - เจรจาต่อรอง

normally : as usual; properly - ตามปกติ

norms : standards of behaviour that are accepted in a society - จารีต

obviously : clearly - เห็นได้ชัด, อย่างชัดแจ้ง

overcharge (verb): to ask for too much money for the product or service you are selling - คิดเงินแพงเกินไป

premier (adjective): most important, famous or successful - ที่สำคัญที่สุด

presumably : used for saying that you think something is true based on what you know, although you are not really certain - น่าเป็นไปได้, ซึ่งพอเป็นจริงได้

punish : to make somebody suffer because they have broken the law or done something wrong - ทำโทษ

queue : a line of people waiting for something - คิว

queuing up : standing in line waiting for something - ต่อแถว

rant : a loud and angry complaint about something - พูดโวยวาย, พูดโผงผาง

reaction : the way you behave or respond as a result of something that happens - ปฏิกิริยาตอบโต้

refuse (verb): to say or show that you will not do something; to say or show that you will not do something that someone has asked you to do - ปฏิเสธ

register (verb): to record something on a list - บันทึก

registration : the process of recording names or information on an official list - การขึ้นทะเบียน, การลงทะเบียน

revoke : to officially say that something is no longer legal - เพิกถอน

sanction : to formally give permission or approval for something - อนุมัติ, เห็นด้วย, อนุญาต

selectively (adv): done in a way that affects or concerns only a small number of people or things from a larger group - อย่างเลือกเฟ้น

shed (verb): to get rid of something that is no longer wanted - อาออก

snack : a small meal or amount of food, usually eaten in a hurry - อาหารว่าง, อาหารเบาๆ

societal (adj): connected with society and the way it is organised - เกี่ยวกับสังคม

sport-utility vehicle (noun): a type of large car, often with four-wheel drive and made originally for travelling over rough ground - รถอเนกประสงค์ ที่มีพื้นที่สำหรับบรรทุกของและบรรทุกผู้โดยสารได้ด้วย

spotted : seen; noticed - ปรากฏให้เห็น

staffer : a member of staff in a big organization - พนักงาน

suggest : to mention an idea or a plan for somebody else to think about - เสนอ, เสนอแนะ

suspend : to stop for a period of time - ยกเลิกชั่วคราว, ระงับชั่วคราว

threaten (verb): to say or indicate that you might do something bad or harmful, especially in order to make someone do something - ขู่เข็ญ คุกคาม ทำให้กลัว

traditional : things (buildings, clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time - แบบดั้งเดิม, เป็นประเพณี

transport : to move people or things from one place to another   - ขนส่ง

travail (noun): an unpleasant experience or situation that involves a lot of hard work, difficulties and/or suffering - ความทุกข์ทรมานจากความยากลำบาก, งานยากลำบาก

trunk (noun): (British "boot") the space at the back of a car that you put bags, cases, etc. in - ห้องเก็บของ

urge (verb): to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take - วิงวอน ย้ำเตือน

various : several different - หลากหลาย, ซึ่งแตกต่างกัน

viral : (of a video, photo, story, etc.) spread across the internet very quickly (like a virus spreading a disease) as people share it with their friends or the news media reports on it - แพร่กระจายผ่านทางอินเทอร์เน็ตอย่างรวดเร็ว

volunteer (noun): someone who is not paid for the work that they do; someone who does something willingly without being required to - อาสาสมัคร

warrior : a soldier or fighter, especially in the past - นักรบในสงคราม

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