Readers' Submissions

The Thai Police

  • Written by John
  • November 30th, 2004
  • 8 min read


Having read a couple of harrowing stories on the site where Mr. Farang ends up in deep trouble with the law, I wanted to tell my story. A story with a different angle on Thai police.

I had just come off the expressway at the Port exit and was going north on Kasaem Road towards Rama 4. Those who drive around Bangkok will probably know the large junction with Suthon Kosa Road where there are three or four lanes of traffic on each side of the meridian in every direction. As I approached the lights they turned red which didn’t stop the two or three pickups ahead of me dashing across in front of the traffic just released in the opposite direction. These lights are known to stay red for many minutes but as a conscientious and careful driver (actually I was just tired from the days driving) I stopped at the front of the queue.

As the lights turned green I waited the extra few seconds for the cars jumping the red light in the opposite side and moved forward. Before I was more than two car lengths past the white line a motorcycle flew across from the opposite direction and tried cutting in front of me car as he turned to his right. No way at the speed he was doing was he going to miss me and even before I had a chance to react he hit the front of my car pretty much head on.

It turned out that there were four youths on the bike, the rider of nineteen and behind him three girls of sixteen, eleven and fourteen years old respectively. My first vision of them was the fourteen year old girl flying right over my car and landing in the road behind me. The little eleven year old bounced off the front of the car and ended up on the other side of the bike. The oldest of the girls hit my bonnet with such force that it had to be replaced. I am not sure if it was her head or her shoulder that did the damage but either way it was going to hurt. The rider himself was so far forward on the bike because of its excess passengers that he was slammed into the handle bars with nowhere else to go.

My initial reaction was surprise followed by anger then fear as the reality of having four Thai youths scattered around my car sunk in. I like most people here have heard stories of how it’s always the farang's fault whatever the circumstances and how motorcycles are never wrong in any accident with a car.

Getting out from the car I was relieved to see that all four where at least making some attempt to move, so I wasn’t going to be facing an immediate murder charge, but I was sure some of them would be badly hurt and that it was going to cost me one way or another.

The junction is one of those with a police box on the corner so already there were three police running towards the scene, shouting and gesticulating what, I have no idea. The first of the police to arrive ignored me and dragged the motorcycle rider from the bike, forcing him face down on the ground. The second policeman to arrive grabbed the boy's arms and handcuffed them behind his back. Not what I had expected at all. The third to arrive finally went around to the three girls to check on their condition, clearly satisfied that they were at least alive he came over to me.

“Where you come from?”
Completely forgetting I speak Thai I replied “I come from England”
“Ah Manchester”
“Actually not”
“Liverpool”
“Not Liverpool either”

Having used his entire English vocabulary he walked over to one of the ten or so Police who where now on the scene and I heard them discussing the fact I was a farang from England. The obviously more senior of the two used his radio and again I heard him explaining to someone that they had a farang involved in a motor accident.

Here we go I thought. They were probably discussing how much they were going to get out of me, and this feeling intensified when he came over and asked me how much my car cost. I drive a newish Nissan Cefiro and I was quick to tell him “car made in Thailand not expensive” “Cefiro good, Thailand car” he said. Losing interest in the car he watched the three girls being helped to the side of the road. “Maow” he explained and apparently this was his explanation as to how all four youths were not seriously hurt. Being drunk at four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon (even the eleven year old) had saved them serious injury because “khon maow fall easy” as my new found police friend explained to me.

Just them a police car arrived with red light flashing and sirens wailing. Stopping only a few feet from me, the rear door opened and a police man of considerable rank judging by the red and gold braid on his uniform approached me and said “I do hope you are Ok, my officers called me a few moments ago to come and help them chat with you.” Such good English was quite a surprise, he then when on to ask if it was alright for one of his officers to drive my car to the side of the road as they had finished marking out the position of the vehicles on the road.

After we all moved to the little police hut on the corner it became clear that the motorcycle rider was being given a hard time. Still handcuffed they where testing him for drink. Two of the girls had been carted of to hospital in very dodgy pickups with huge official looking markings and loads of red lights but clearly no first aid knowledge whatsoever. But this poor guy was getting no treatment and I suspected at least a couple broken ribs along with a good deal of bruising.

The senior policeman asked to see my license and wanted to know what kind of insurance I had, so having shown him all the details he then suggested he call the insurance company for me. Still quite shaken I was happy for him to assist. He made the call and while we waited for the insurance rep to turn up we chatted about anything except the accident. He had learnt his English at university and then traveled around Europe a little which gave him a chance to become quite fluent. He had also had an American girlfriend for a while, and really couldn’t understand my preference for Thai ladies over Farangs.

The insurance guy arrived within 15 minutes and he and the police talked about what had happened. Up until this point I still had no idea what my position in all this was going to be but it was with great relief that I heard the police explain to the insurance rep how it was completely the fault of the motorcycle rider and I had done nothing wrong at all.

The insurance rep listed the damage to the car; bonnet, grill, lights, bumper, all of which had to be replaced and he also noted that the car was un-drivable because the wing was rubbing on the wheel. He explained all this to the police and gave me a piece of paper to show to the garage next morning, no help with what I should do with the car now. Off he went satisfied he had completed his paperwork fully.

The police then asked me to go with them to the local station (Taa Ruaa or Port) and make a statement. I went with them and they arranged for my car to be moved to the station car park.

A couple of hours later they produced a longish statement all in Thai for me to sign, whilst I can speak Thai reasonably well I cant really read much and was obviously looking a bit worried about signing something I didn’t understand. Once again the senior officer came forward and translated it to English as he read it for me. It appeared to be a clear and concise account of the events surrounding the accident and apportioned no blame to me whatsoever. I happily signed.

He also explained that I would be required to come and give evidence against the motorcycle rider on Tuesday morning at 8 AM.

Tuesday 8AM accompanied by my Thai wife I duly turned up to give evidence, I can't say I really understood the proceeding and I was never actually asked to say anything, but to my absolute amazement the rider was sentenced to 40 days in jail and ordered to pay me 20,000 baht in compensation. This was apparently to cover any cost of car hire while mine was being fixed and to compensate for any lose of no claims bonus on my insurance because, yes you guessed it the motorcyclist wasn’t insured.

As we left the proceedings the senior policeman came over and told me he had had my car taken to the main Nissan dealer. I offered to pay for this but he would have none of it. He shook my hand wished me good luck and walked back to his office.

Whilst my experience of police from around the world is limited I have never been treated with such respect, I have never felt they went out of their way to help like the guys from taa Ruaa station did. They were actively helpful and supportive.

Thank you Thai police.

Oh yes I am still waiting for the twenty thousand baht compensation.

Stickman's thoughts:

I am thrilled to read this, I really am. The Thai police to get a bad rap and I have to admit that I get annoyed at being pulled over from time to time and accused of something I didn't do so this is a pleasant change. It also serves as a warning not to run a red light. No-one wants to end up in a Thai prison!