Readers' Submissions

Thai Scam

  • Written by Anonymous
  • December 5th, 2011
  • 6 min read


Bangkok Beat

I am from Singapore and I have been stopping over in Bangkok many times, usually for a day or 2 after my job is complete in Chonburi or on my way to Phayao in the north.

I would like to relate an incident that happened to me on 24th November at about 12 noon, along Sukhumvit Road between sois 3 and soi 5.

On the said date I was walking along Sukhumvit Road heading toward soi 3 when somewhere just after soi 5 I dropped my cigarette on the pavement as it was almost near the end of the butt. I decided not to pick it up, only to realise that it was a mistake a few moments later.

As I approached the junction where there is a crossing to soi 4, I was stopped by a policeman <probably not a policeman but a city hall officer (they have a similar uniform)Stick> who asked me in Thai where I ws going. I knew at once it was about the cigarette butt as it was the only reason for him to stop me.

Like most Singaporeans I can pass off as Thai and I do speak reasonable Thai, so I told him I was going home.

I guess from my accent he knew at once I was not local and asked me to follow him.

I asked him why and he said that I had just thrown a cigarette butt on the pavement.

So I said ok and followed him to where I dropped it and there was another policeman with a desk, an empty chair which I swear wasn't there a moment ago waiting for me. With a smile, Mr. Policeman asked me to sit down and asked me where I was from. I told him Singapore and again he smiled and said "Oh, good place!"

I smiled and said "Thailand also very good, lots of beautiful temples."

Now most Asians are familiar with negotiations with corrupt police so I knew there would be some sort of payment. The question was how much.

After I had sat down I asked the second policeman what it was all about and what kind of arrangement we could make. He pointed to a big banner which again I swear wasn't hanging there when I walked past a moment ago.

The sign says no littering, offender will be fined up to a maximum of 2000 baht.

Now all Singaporeans knew that all too familiar law which we have had for years. Thailand may have it for a long time too, however it is not seriously enforced like in Singapore. Having said that, I don't imply that just because it is not enforced therefore I can break it.

But in Singapore 1st time offenders usually are fined 200 SDG on the spot and a proper receipt is issued. If not then you end up in court and maybe pay double. However, the maximum is 1000 SDG which is for serious littering like some restaurant throwing their garbage out on the street.

So I told Mr. Policeman,"Ok I have committed an offence and I am sorry but this is my 1st time in Thailand and I don't know the rules. Can you let me off with a warning if I promise not to do it again!"

Ge took out a stack of cards the size of a postcard with the same words that are written on the banner in various languages. I asked him how much and he said 2000 baht. I told him that is the maximum the sign says – "up to 2000" so there has got to be a minimum. No deal, still 2000. I took out my money, which was about 2000 odd and showed him, but of course I didn't show him my wallet and what I had in my other pocket.

He asked for my passport but I told him it's not with me. I can't give it to him for obvious reason.

I told him this is all I got and I still haven't fully paid for my hotel bill plus I need to eat today and tomorrow so if you take 2000 what is going to happen to me? He smiles and asked me how much can I afford. I said how about 500?

No deal 1500!

No 700 and no food for me today and he says why not you sleep at the police station and use the money to pay the fine instead of the hotel bill! I told him that's a good idea but I'd rather sleep in the park where there is more fresh air.

In the middle of it all I changed the subject, asked him if his house is flooded and how is he coping blah, blah, blah.

Anyway after spending about 45 minutes with him which I figure is enough time, I said "Look why not we do it this way, 2000 odd baht is all I have, you are my friend and I am your friend so give me the loose change you take 1000, I take 1000" and proceed to give him the money. He smiled and pushed it under some books, I smile, said "Thanks, you have good heart."

I get up and move on as fast as I can before he change his mind.

Mr. Stickman, I don't know if you are aware of this happening or is it the latest scam but I'm sure I'm not the first. Judging from the numbers of butt that is on the ground nor will I be the last. All I wish to do is to warn others to be careful of throwing cigarette butt when walking around Sukhumvit or any other tourist area for that matter and I hope you can help me with that.

Thank you and have a nice day.

Eden Club

Stickman's thoughts:

I have to say that this is the funniest story I have read in quite some time. If you take the time to look, there are actually a lot of signs around in central Bangkok stating that littering is an offence which can be punished by a fine of up to 2,000 baht. These signs are in English and Thai so there's no excuse for not being able to read them. I have written about this situation often and it has been mentioned many times on the site. It has also been covered in local newspapers.

Now what makes all of this worse is that with you being a Singaporean, you come from a country where this law is known about by all and enforced. So why do you come to Thailand, throw your shit on the ground and then complain when YOU BRIBED AN OFFICIAL. Yes, you not only broke the law, but you bribed an official and now you have the gaul to call this a scam?! You're joking, right?!

The only scam part here is that it is foreigners who seem to be targeted often, but then it sounds like you would pass for a Thai national physically so it is not like they were profiling when you were caught.

More than anything, irrespective of the state of the pavement here, shame on you for throwing our rubbish on the ground!