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Thaksin Promises Bangkok Taxi Drivers "heaven"


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ON THE HUSTINGS: PM promises taxi drivers 'heaven'

Cabbies told govt will help them buy own cars, send children abroad to study

BANGKOK: -- Thousands of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers yesterday enjoyed lunch with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on the grounds of Government House, where they discussed their day-to-day problems openly with an attentive premier.

A relaxed looking premier - wearing a blue taxi-driver's shirt emblazoned with his name in English and Thai - tucked into som tam, grilled chicken and other Northeastern-style dishes with the appreciative drivers.

After the meal, Thaksin hopped behind the wheel of a cab and took it for a spin around the grounds of Government House.

During discussions before lunch, a voice from the crowd |of taxi drivers asked Thaksin how he would help them get to "heaven" by helping them get to own their taxis.

"Not to worry, we will do everything to help drivers get to heaven and have a good life," Thaksin said.

To fulfil the wish of many drivers to own their own cabs, Thaksin said he was considering launching a low-cost taxi scheme in which drivers could pay for their vehicles in instalments with low interest rates.

Thaksin also said a scholarship scheme for drivers' children would be launched using money from the state lottery.

"Let [your children] know that the children of taxi drivers will be able to further their study abroad," he said.

Other problems raised include inefficient two-way radio systems for taxi drivers, the lack of taxi ranks around Bangkok, and widespread extortion rackets that sucked money from the drivers.

One taxi driver told Thaksin that a group of Air Force officers and police who claimed that they worked under the prime minister were extorting money from him.

The premier said he would get police to investigate.

"It seems that there are too many dark influences in many areas. I will tell police in every area to tackle the problem. If they do not, senior station officers will have new jobs mowing the lawn around here," said the prime minister.

To encourage taxi drivers to use cost-saving and environmentally friendly NGV gas, the government will have NGV tanks installed in taxis, and allow the drivers to purchase the tanks by paying a surcharge each time they fill up with gas.

A driver would pay around Bt10 to Bt12 for a litre of gas, instead of the usual Bt7 to pay for the NGV tank.

Yesterday was also "release the ghost day", where taxi and tuk-tuk drivers would not be fined for breaking minor traffic laws.

Voranaree Kosachan, Samatcha Hunsara

THE NATION

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"Those drivers who wish to replace their ageing taxis should be able to pay for them in instalments with a special government agency set up to deal with the matter. The drivers should be allowed at least four years, with a down payment not exceeding 10 per cent of the price and an annual interest rate of no more than 8 per cent."

Chinnawat Haboonpat - head Of The Association For The Protection Of Taxi Drivers' Interests

----

"I have been in the business for 50 years and have had a lot of problems, such as maltreatment by officials. I also want the prime minister to help stop the frequent violations of traffic law by motorists, such as those who go through red lights. I think it's a good idea for him to allow taxi drivers to meet him."

Boonmee Chuenchomwit

68-Year-Old Taxi Driver

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"I want the prime minister to help with the high charges imposed on taxi drivers for accepting passengers inside the Mor Chit bus terminal. Each time I have to pay Bt10 and sometimes it costs me Bt200 a day because I enter the compound 20 times. The charge should be reduced to Bt5."

Udomsak Buasorn

Taxi Driver

----

"The group wants another 5,000 tuk-tuks to be registered for Bangkok. The vehicles should be environmentally friendly and paid for in instalments over three years. Many tuk-tuk drivers have no vehicles of their own and the government's Ua Athorn project will help make their dream come true."

Nason Somporn - Leader Of A Tuk-Tuk Drivers Group

----

"It's a blessing for taxi drivers to have a good prime minister like him. I think he will be able to solve many problems because he's knowledgeable and serious about his words. In the next election I will certainly vote for Prime Minister Thaksin."

Sakorn Sonphakdi

Taxi Driver

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Driver, take me back to power

Samatcha Hunsara

THE NATION

By inviting taxi and tuk-tuk drivers to have lunch and discuss their problems with him yesterday, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra may won some more votes for the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party at the next election.

Estimating that there were 5,000 drivers present, a TRT MP said the TRT had just charted a smooth course for the election in which it would be victorious over the opposition Democrat Party.

"This does not include those drivers and passengers keeping abreast of the gathering through the radio in their cars. Suppose each taxi gets about 10 passengers today, the message surely will get around," he added.

The event was aired via two city radio stations popular among taxi drivers - Jor Sor Roi and Ruamduay Chuaygan - for those unable to make it to the Government House gathering.

There are between 60,000 to 70,000 registered taxis in the country.

At the event, Thaksin told the drivers that he had ordered police not to arrest anyone for breaking traffic regulations and that he would pay the fines for drivers to every police station in the city from his own pocket. He also said that he had approved the issue of NGV (natural gas vehicle) tanks free to one thousand taxis and that drivers could install tinted-window film of 40 per cent density.

He also invited them to see his office, where he shook their hands and signed autographs on banknotes.

Thaksin also announced that those taxi drivers with problems could report them to the Office of the Secretariat to the Prime Minister.

The drivers appeared impressed by the PM's performance and cheered with each new promise.

"There is no one like PM Thaksin in Thailand, he is very understanding of the poor and needy and he gives us a chance to meet in a friendly manner at Government House," said one driver.

The event was part of the PM's attempt to talk with many occupation groups in the country to find out about their problems, living conditions, income and family life, said the PM's deputy secretary-general, Sita Divari.

The next occupation on the PM's list is maids.

--The Nation 2004-05-17

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"Not to worry, we will do everything to help drivers get to heaven and have a good life," Thaksin said.

Does this mean there will be a new crackdown focussing on Taxi drivers?

It would make Bangkok traffic a bit better.....

Dutchy

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"It's a blessing for taxi drivers to have a good prime minister like him. I think he will be able to solve many problems because he's knowledgeable and serious about his words. In the next election I will certainly vote for Prime Minister Thaksin."
propaganda do a good job, I heard some similar talks in a BKK taxi recently :o
"It seems that there are too many dark influences in many areas. I will tell police in every area to tackle the problem. If they do not, senior station officers will have new jobs mowing the lawn around here," said the prime minister.

would be better to be gardener these days than a PO working for Taksin :D

francois

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Thaksin also said a scholarship scheme for drivers' children would be launched using money from the state lottery.

It looks like he's planning to finance all his fanciful schemes by enlisting the help of poor compulsive gamblers with an addiction! :D

Good luck everyone! Everybody wins with a high-roller premier like that at the helm! :o

Especially in an election year! :D

Snowleopard.

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maybe a thai reporter could ask him why thais would wish to send their children overseas for further education?

when will they wake up to his propaganda? when the thai baht nosedives?

P'raps cos they're all hoping that their kids will be able to study abroad too? Let's face it, Stu, the reporters that would have been allowed in to cover that event would have been screened for pro-Thaksiness, so would hardly have been likely to have raised awkward questions like that. Wouldn't be surprised if even the taxi drivers weren't handpicked too, as virtually every taxi driver I've spoken to over the last year has been convinced Tox is taking the country down the tubes. Which probably explains why he's targetting this particular group of influential voters so thoroughly. Cos unlike many of their Isaan brethren, these guys are a/ politically aware, b/ take the trouble to go home to Roi-ET and vote, and c/ aren't likely to be swayed by the local poo yai baan telling them who to vote for. And no doubt they could sway a fair few of their relatives which party to vote for, which makes them ripe for heavy propaganda. :o

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PM picks up bill for cabbies' tickets

BANGKOK: --Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday shelled out Bt200,000 from his own pocket to pay traffic fines for taxi drivers.

The drivers could pick up their driver's licenses from police stations - where they are held in the case of unpaid fines - from tomorrow, Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Montri Chamroon said yesterday.

Montri said that police stations had a list of taxi drivers who had complained to the prime minister about being given tickets and would investigate the cases.

Thaksin's offer was made after he hosted a lunch on Sunday for thousands of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers.

Many of them complained that traffic police officers unfairly issued tickets.

Montri said most of the tickets Thaksin would take care of involved parking in unauthorised zones, which is punishable by a maximum fine of Bt500.

Thai Rak Thai deputy spokesman Pimuk Simaroj, whom Thaksin assigned to deal with the taxi drivers' tickets, said there were 413 tickets from 344 taxi drivers that the premier would cover.

"If the total cost of the fines is less than Bt200,000, police have promised to return the difference," Pimuk said.

Another deputy spokesman for Thai Rak Thai, Suthin Klangsaeng, dismissed criticism that Thaksin was attempting to attract votes by personally paying fines for the taxi drivers. Suthin said the premier was concerned about reports of harassment after hearing about the problems taxi drivers were facing.

"He wants the Metropolitan Police Bureau to check if the tickets were fairly issued. Also, he believes he should give the taxi drivers a chance to improve themselves if they have broken traffic laws," Suthin said.

Taxi driver Somboon Kua-tarn, 33, welcomed Thaksin's help saying the premier was showing his concern for the poor.

"Others may think the premier is trying to woo our political support but I think he just cares for the poor," he said, adding that he had always felt slighted when traffic police officers gave preferential treatment to owners of private cars.

Another taxi driver, Sawaeng Leenongbua, also 33, said it was good for Thaksin to help the poor. However, he said the best way to tackle ticketing problems was to talk to the traffic police.

"Money is not the real solution," Sawaeng said.Damrong Khiewsutta, a 38-year-old taxi driver, said he disagreed with the premier's offer to pay the fines, saying that the drivers were traffic offenders and deserved the consequences.

"By paying fines for them, they will become complacent and will do the same again," he said.

Traffic Police Chief Maj General Panu Kerdlarpphol dismissed reports that traffic police had targeted taxi drivers. He said that officers were enforcing laws without discrimination.

Panu said many taxi drivers were fined because they often parked outside authorised areas, failed to wear uniforms, and did not display their driving licenses in the cabs.

"Police make arrests to enforce laws and to create order," he said.

In 2003, more than 130,000 taxi drivers were arrested for failing to display their driving icenses in the cabs.

Panu said the presentation of the cards give a level of security to passengers, who would be able to clearly identify the drivers if anything went wrong.

--The Nation 2004-05-18

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Thaksin also said a scholarship scheme for drivers' children would be launched using money from the state lottery.

"Let [your children] know that the children of taxi drivers will be able to further their study abroad," he said.

Now we know he is talking out of his a.....

How many taxi driver cheildren even reach 12th grade,

let alone have the skills to study abroad?

Be realistic and concentrate in scholarships in Thailand first!!

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