Connect with us


Ranong 12 finally set free



Ranong 12 finally set free | Thaiger

RANONG: “The Ranong 12”, a group of 12 foreign tourists arrested on the morning of February 8 for overstaying their visas, were freed on Sunday.

The most that any of the 12 had overstayed was six days. Others were just 24 hours over the limit.

During their five-day ordeal they spent the first two nights on dirty police cell floors in Kapoe District and the next two locked up in minibuses on overnight journeys to and from Bangkok, where they were sent to be processed for deportation.

The detainees were eventually spared deportation from Bangkok following successful negotiations between their embassies and top Immigration officials in the capital.

They were then returned, still under detention, to Ranong, from where they finally left the country under expulsion orders. They then re-entered the country as free men and women on new tourist visas.

The arrests have caused confusion and fear among foreign tourists and resident expats, who for years have been able to depart the country after overstaying – within reason – their permit-to-stay by simply paying a 200-baht-a-day fine.

One of the 12 arrested, Australian Chris Taylor, 31, told the Gazette today, “We were under arrest the whole time … when we weren’t locked in a cage we were being escorted by Immigration or other police officials … many people did not sleep at all for the whole time … They weren’t giving us information, and when they did give us information they lied to us,” he said.

He said that when he finally got back to Phuket, nobody could believe he had been locked up for five days because of a one-day overstay.

“The way we were treated was shocking … Some of the food I couldn’t eat; it was just bloody dog food. The Kapoe Police did their best to accommodate us; they tried to make us comfortable. They did their best with the sleeping arrangements, but I don’t think they really knew what was going on.

“But the Tourist Police, Immigration Police in Bangkok and especially the Immigration Police in Ranong, none could speak English at all – and they were very rude, treating us like crap,” he said.

He said that the day before his tourist visa was set to expire he went to Phuket Immigration, where he was told that a one-day overstay would not cause a problem.

“‘Just do a visa run tomorrow and pay a 200-baht fine,’ they told me,” he said, adding that they should have advised him to extend his visa by 10 days then and there as he faced possible arrest as an overstay.

Despite all the discomfort, he said he would continue his vacation in Thailand by making new reservations for a flight to Chiang Mai, as his original tickets had expired and were non-refundable.

“I am just tired and need to rest for a few days first,” he said.

Australian Embassy officials in Bangkok had done an extraordinary job in negotiating with Thai Immigration officials in Bangkok, he added.

Another member of the group, Swede Olaf Fredling, also said he would not let the experience put him off vacationing in Thailand. Like his Australian co-detainee, he said the actions of a few didn’t reflect badly on all of Thailand.

“But my feet are really bad right now from all the standing around. We never got a chance to lay down … but sure, I am going to stay in Thailand,” he said.

Janpen Munsa, owner of the Penphet Visa Run Company, said the arrests were unprecedented in the company’s six-year history and had hurt her business because former customers now feared arrest if they use it.

“The company is registered as a visa run business, but they arrested [our customers] – using rude words and bad behavior,” she said, adding that hers is just one of three companies providing the service.

“Why was our vehicle pulled over and our overstayed customers singled out?” she wanted to know.

Anchalee Praphut, owner of Angelina Travel and Tour Agency, which arranged the visa tour for one of the overstays, said the whole episode had sullied the reputation of the Tourist Police.

She had to plead with the police to allow two of the group who were diabetic to have insulin shots, which they had to pay for themselves.

She called on the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to look into the matter, saying that TAT efforts to promote tourism abroad would be all for nothing if the Tourist Police treated foreign tourists so badly after they arrived.

Ranong Governor Mekin Methawikul, who was informed of the issue by K. Anchalee, told the Gazette that he had sent a formal request to the head of the Ranong Tourist Police for a report about the incident.

He said that the Tourist Police Chief told him that there had been cases of foreigners using the visa runs to smuggle ya bah (methamphetamine) into the country from Burma, so his staff needed to check foreigners on visa runs carefully.

As the Tourist Police do not have the authority to stop moving vehicles, they had called on the Highway Police for assistance. Another bus on a visa run that followed shortly thereafter was allowed to pass by because the police did not want to create traffic congestion, the Governor said.

Gov Mekin added that, as the arresting officers were low-level police, it was unrealistic to expect them


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Politics50 mins ago

6 months in, Bangkok Governor Chadchart rated highly

North East1 hour ago

Bloody end to innocent celebratory nap

Crime2 hours ago

Officials seize 25 tonnes of illegal meat from Chon Buri factory

Sponsored1 day ago

Marketing in Thailand as a Foreigner: Volume #3 The Marketing Noises

Pattaya3 hours ago

Raid roundup: Pattaya pubs, cannabis shops scrutinised

Crime4 hours ago

Loan shark sends goons to attack man in hospital and steal his car

Election4 hours ago

‘Big Joke’ goes back to school to hunt visa crooks

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Insurgency5 hours ago

Insurgent bomb derails train in Songkhla

Bangkok5 hours ago

Fire at Bangkok’s CentralWorld mall sends shoppers scurrying (video)

Video6 hours ago


Transport6 hours ago

Disruptive Phuket-bound passenger thrown off flight in Karachi

Tourism7 hours ago

Air Canada’s Vancouver-Bangkok flight touches down Thailand

Bangkok Travel22 hours ago

Ari All Link is a must-attend skill-up workshop for Ari people

Cannabis News1 day ago

Anutin responds to photo of cannabis smoking kids on Pattaya Beach

Education1 day ago

Thai student allegedly raped by Hyderabad U professor

Tourism1 day ago

Phuket welcomes 6,730 flights in December

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11