A senior police sergeant major from Mueng Pattaya Police Station has been transferred to Chon Buri Police Headquarters after admitting he illegally fined Chinese tourists 30,000 baht for carrying vapes.
A Professional Tourist Guide Association of Thailand committee member, Paisarn Suethanuwong, revealed the wrongdoing of a Mueng Pattaya Police Station chief on a Channel 3 news show yesterday.
Paisarn said he received a complaint that an officer fined Chinese tourists 60,000 baht for using and carrying e-cigarettes before reducing the fine to 30,000 baht.
According to the minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, and the famous lawyer Kirdphon Kaewkird, Thai police cannot arrest or fine foreign tourists who carry e-cigarettes. They can only report it to the court.
The latest update on the issue was published on the Khaosod platform today. Khaosod reported that the issue was circulating on a LINE group chat featuring many Thai tour guides.
The police officer in question stepped forward and admitted his fault.
Mueng Pattaya Police Station Superintendent Kunlachart Kunlachai reported that the senior police sergeant major, named only as K, confessed that he was the officer who issued the fine.
Kunlachart added that officer K served in the traffic department and has been transferred to work in Chon Buri province while the issue was investigated.
The e-cigarette or vape row was highlighted in the recent Taiwanese actress scandal in Bangkok. Huai Khwang officers confessed to extorting 27,000 from An Yu-Qing ( 安于晴), also known as Charlene An, on January 4 in exchange for letting her go free without prosecution for carrying a vape in her luggage.
Police officers across the country are in the public spotlight right now, especially for their measures against e-cigarettes.
Thairath reported yesterday that police officers in the Isaan province of Ang Thong are taking e-cigarette cases more seriously. They raided a major vape shop in the province and seized over 1,000 vapes, vape juices, and cash, which were worth over 300,0000 baht.
Amarin TV also interviewed an e-cigarette seller at Huay Kwang Market in Bangkok. The seller provided interesting information to the reporter, saying that they paid over 100,000 baht per year to an officer to sell goods on the pavement.
The seller also added that they could sell anything after the payment even if it was illegal products like vapes.
ORIGINAL STORY: Chinese tourists wrongly fined 60,000 baht for carrying vapes, says law expert
A group of Thai tour guides revealed that a group of Chinese tourists were fined 60,000 baht for carrying vapes in Pattaya. The police also gave a 50% discount and let the tourists pay only 30,000 baht.
According to Thai law, Thai police cannot arrest or fine foreigners with vapes. They have to report the issue to the court.
The committee member of the Professional Tourist Guide Association of Thailand, Paisarn Suethanuwong, joined a news show on Channel 3 named Hone Kra Sae today to share his views on the Taiwanese actress’ extortion case.
During the interview, Paisarn revealed that he received a similar complaint from a group of Thai tour guides in Pattaya.
The Thai guides shared with Paisarn that their Chinese customers carried and used e-cigarettes in Pattaya and were subsequently fined 60,000 baht several days ago.
The Chinese tourists negotiated with the police officers and got a 50% discount. They paid the officers 30,000 baht which was pretty expensive in the tour guides’ opinion.
“The fine on e-cigarette charge is unbelievably expensive. It is a gap for corrupt officers to gain benefits. Some foreign tourists do not know that vaporisers are illegal in Thailand because they are sold everywhere.”
The minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, confirmed to Channel 7 today that Thai police cannot arrest or fine foreign tourists who carry vaporisers even if it is illegal in Thailand.
Phiphat said that the police must report the case to the court and let the court process the case. The minister did not give the details on how the case would be continued by the court.
A famous Thai lawyer, Kirdphon Kaewkird, explained that the Customs Department is responsible for the fine in this case. Police officers are responsible for recording the charge, seizing the illegal vapes, and submitting the issue to the court.
According to Section 20 of the Export and Imports of Goods (1979), whoever imports or exports illegal goods shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine of five times more expensive than the price of the goods, or both.
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