Another day, another embarrassing scandal involving Thai cops and their love of some tea money.
A Pattaya police officer was administratively sanctioned today after he confessed to extorting money from a Chinese tour group for carrying e-cigarettes.
In the latest scandal involving police shaking down tourists for money, officers from the Pattaya City Police Station “fined” the Chinese tour group THB60,000 for possessing vapes – which are technically illegal – which the famously frugal tourists bargained down to THB30,000 (US$900).
The police sergeant responsible for the extortion was 2nd Lt. Noppakrit Pornwatthanakit, according to an order signed by Chonburi province police chief Maj. Gen. Kampol Leelapraporn, which instructed Pattaya City police chief Col. Kulchat Kulchai to investigate the matter.
The sergeant, who police say has since admitted to taking the money, has since been transferred to Chonburi provincial police while the investigation is underway.
The incident comes as police venality was already under the spotlight for extorting THB27,000 from a Taiwanese actress in a similar case that’s become the talk of the nation. Then there are also the cops that can be rented for personal VVIP escorts.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchkitprakarn told reporters today that police cannot arrest or fine tourists for possessing vapes but only refer them to the courts for prosecution.
Thailand banned vapes in 2014, in the last great flex of political power enjoyed by the tobacco monopoly, whose once expansive property has been given over to a public park.
While the ban was briefly enforced, Bangkok’s streets, pubs, restaurants, and even police stations are awash in exhaled tobacco vapor.
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