Stickman's Weekly Column October 27th, 2013

Halloween @ Angelwitch


It had taken months to arrange but at long last I had the chance to profile one of the highest profile and best bars in the business. Management had granted me permission to do a photo essay at Angelwitch. I would be given unhindered access to the staff, permission to take photos before the bar opened and I would be provided background information from the long-serving manager, himself an icon not just in Nana Plaza, but the industry. This was something I was really looking forward to, a project I was going to enjoy. But it wasn't to be.





Angelwitch

Outside the bar lanterns with evil smiles glare at passersby, spiders' webs sprawl and ghouls hang from the ceiling. It's Halloween and no bar embraces the occasion with quite the same vigour, almost like John Carpenter himself was brought in to dress up the venue.

Halloween, along with Loy Kratong and New Year, are the parties long-time bar staff look forward to. Many of the Angelwitch team really go to town, dressing up as ghosts, as Dracula and other horror movie characters, often with makeup that takes hours to apply. It's a break from the usual routine, a chance to dress up and something they look forward to immensely each year.



Angelwitch

The bar undergoes extensive decoration the week before. Inside the venue figures are placed throughout the bar with witches, skeletons, zombies and other ghoulish characters mounted from the ceiling.



Angelwitch

Many Thais are scared of ghosts, and for those from rural areas – meaning most bar staff – it is a particular concern. Merely joking that a place is haunted by ghosts can be enough to get educated girls running, clinging to you or even hiding under the sheets. Rural girls can be genuinely petrified!

Of similar concern to Thais is being in a place where someone died. Talk of death is something Thais are superstitious about and really don't like. One Sukhumvit bar owner told me recently how many years ago the manager of the bar he now owns really did die on the premises before quickly reminding me not to mention it to any of the staff, lest he have to hire an entire new team, so worried about ghosts would the Thais be!

When the house lights go out and the skulls are illuminated by scarlet lights and eerie German rock music blasts out words indecipherable to most, the bar is transformed into a haunted house with hot dancing girls!



Angelwitch

They may be scared of ghosts, but Thais aren't bothered when it comes to gore. I found it rather unsettling as a newbie seeing Thais watch intently at the scene of a road accident, standing back, totally expressionless with a scene of gore in front of them.

I remember many years ago chatting with a lady online who I was keen to get to know better. I asked her what she was doing to which she replied, relaxing. I asked the obvious – what are you doing to relax and she responded that she was watching videos of amputation surgery on YouTube. Deal breaker, we never did meet!

Bloodied body parts hang throughout Angelwitch and if you're tall enough and have had enough drinks, don't scream if your head bumps in to a hand!



Angelwitch

As I'm walking around the bar, admiring the decorations and chatting with a long-time mamasan about the history of Halloween at Angelwitch, she abruptly tells me to stop talking. When I do, I notice the bar has gone quiet. Everyone is looking at and listening in to what one of the other mamasans on a phone call is saying. She presses a button on her phone and noticing everyone watching her in anticipation, she says that the bar won't open tonight. Angelwitch, along with all of the bars in the plaza, has been ordered closed. The bar has to be closed quick smart! All girls in bikinis are to change quickly and everyone else is to go home.

It's 6:45 PM on a Friday, the busiest night of the week, and Nana Plaza has been ordered closed. My phone is going crazy and I check to see messages from bar bosses all over town. At this rate the city is going to be in darkness.

I've been in Angelwitch just a few minutes on my long-awaited photo shoot, and now the bar is about to close. I feel like I have a ticket for the rugby world cup final and have arrived at the ground to discover that the match was yesterday.

There's not enough time to do the Angelwitch history photo essay, let alone get the history from the manager and old mamasans. Hell, I don't have an opening piece in reserve. This is seriously not good! The manager apologises but says we have to wrap it up. I know the Thais, and know that urgency is not a common trait. I have a few minutes.

I figure I have enough shots of the Halloween decorations but decorations are only a small part of what makes Angelwitch stand out at Halloween. I need to snap some girls quickly!



Candidography



Angelwitch

Amazingly a few of the girls were ready, waiting to be shot. But now the bar is to close. The mamasans are telling all the girls to change back in to their street clothes.

They are heading to the changing rooms. I need to stop them!



Angelwitch

Like every bar, Angelwitch goes through periods where it's packed with pretty ladies, and other periods when you'd swear the recruitment manager was blind. The current recruitment manager must have 20 : 20 vision for Angelwitch in Nana Plaza currently has some gorgeous ladies, the best lineup I have seen there in ages.



Angelwitch

The girls are getting mixed messages. The guy with the camera is pleading with them to stay, the mamasan is telling them to change and now the manager is telling the guy with the camera that cops are walking around the plaza and all the lights have to be turned off.

I've never shot in this bar before, have not set up any lighting and have no time to check or adjust exposure settings. I resort to the spray and pray style of photography I so loathe.



Angelwitch

A distinctive looking beauty is heading to the changing room and I almost fall off the stage as I try to stop her. I convince her to sit down for a single shot before she retreats. She's a knockout, her wavy hair dyed with a burgundy tinge stands out from the crowd. She has a sexy smile, a twinkle in her eye and the obvious, giant headlights!




tattoo

One girl has lingered as I have been hurriedly snapping way. I ask her what she'll do tonight now that she doesn't have to work and she looks at me with suspicion. Does she think I'm hitting on her?

I'll go to the tattoo parlour to get some more work done, she says.




Angelwitch

There's only one girl left, the bar proper is almost empty with most girls out back getting changed.

Miss Mo not only looks good, she knows how to pose having made the cover girl of After Dark magazine. She looks so good that I think she might make a decent girl of the week. I ask her if she is up for it and she is.

The mamasan is screeching at me. We have to close the doors!

Mo is the last girl left in lingerie and is smiling, relaxed and enjoying every moment. She's caught in the middle, enjoying being the centre of attention.

The police are coming, the mamasan says.

Miss Mo removes the domino mask and I fire off some shots for the girl of the week before the mamasan grabs my arm and escorts me towards the door with a hasty apology.




Nana Plaza darkness

I go for a wander around the plaza. The lights are out and the plaza is in near darkness. It's hardly an uncommon sight, bars closed and everyone heading out. But it's only 7:00 PM.

Out front of the plaza there is confusion. The shutters have been pulled down on the beer bars yet customers linger, not knowing where to go.

There were dozens of foreigners milling around looking lost, not sure what to do next. Patpong bar owners ought to have put on a free bus from Soi Nana to Silom.




Angelwitch

I head back to the bar to a scene that causes me to chuckle. The bar is full of girls lounging around, looking as lost as the foreigners out front. They are talking amongst themselves in their little cliques, the same conversation in every corner. How many days will the bar be closed? How many days will we have off? They seem neither excited nor disappointed, unexpected surprises are very much a part of life in Thailand.



Angelwitch

20 minutes after walking in to Angelwitch I walk out. The girls are told to leave, the lights are turned off, people drift away.

The police have ordered Nana Plaza closed for the night. Instead of an in-depth profile and look at one of the most successful gogo bars in Thailand, I'd look at how Angelwitch celebrates Halloween.

With three Angelwitch bars – two in Nana Plaza and the purpose built facility in Pattaya – the Angelwitch story is too interesting not to be told. I hope to tell it some time later next month.

Angelwitch's Halloween party is an event the bar puts great effort in to. And the staff really get in to it. The bar is fabulously decorated and many staff get done up in makeup that looks like it was applied on a Hollywood set. Too many bar parties are nothing more than a pig on a spit with rotten Tequila shots that no self-respecting Mexican would drink. Halloween at Angelwitch doesn't have the sacrificial pig and there's no crap Tequila. It's a fun night, one of the parties of the year, a night when one of the best bars in the business gets to really show off.





Where was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo was taken of All Seasons Place and other buildings on Wireless Road with Benjakit Park in the foreground. For this week's photo I am looking for a precise answer. There are two prizes each week, a 500 baht voucher to use at Bully's, on Sukhumvit Road between sois 2 and 4 and a 300 baht voucher to use at Sunrise Tacos, Bangkok's original Mexican grill with several branches in Bangkok.

Terms and conditions: The prizes are ONLY available to readers in Thailand at the time of entering and are NOT transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar month. You only have one guess per week and ONLY the first answer emailed counts! You MUST specify which prize you would prefer and failure to specify a prize will disqualify you from being eligible to claim one.


Sunrise Tacos


FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.

EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Uncouth foreign visitors.

I went on a solo vacation, something I'd normally do when I have too much going on. 5,000 baht a night was the cheapest room in the hotel I stayed at by the ocean in Phuket. At a pool restaurant overlooking the ocean, a westerner with a bargirl on his lap were talking about how their sex was. They weren't shy. A Thai waiter was asking for her Line contact info while the couple were talking and she gave it to him, all the while telling the farang how good he was in the sack. I was the first who requested to move to another table and then farangs at two other tables did the same. I was disgusted. This is something they would never do in their country and they think it's ok to do it in Thailand, even in an expensive place like that where you'd expect the presence of more 'refined' people. It's a big insult. I guess it doesn't matter how much I pay, I can never get away from this sort of sight. (* Email sent by a Thai female friend of Stick's.)

Farangs with influence.

Your comment about very few expats having influence in Thailand was interesting. I definitely agree with what you say about the ability to get someone blacklisted from Thailand. I tend to laugh when someone levels that threat at me too. However, I think it is still prudent that readers are a little bit wary of some of the foreigners they deal with. It is not that hard to partner up with someone of influence in Thailand, especially where there is some sort of joint business venture going on between both of those parties, and I think there are probably quite a few foreigners in that position. It is easy enough to make friends in Thailand, and to then call upon that friend's influence to make life difficult for another foreigner is definitely possible (and much easier than trying to use that influence against another Thai). The recent story that you linked to about the Canadian who pissed off a German (who then used the influence of a policeman) and who is now stuck in limbo I think correctly sums up the point. I think the advice to readers is that they should be wary of who they deal with and try to assess whether the person really is able to pull the trigger. If the individual they have pissed off is barking like a Chihuahua and making ridiculous allegations such as being blacklisted from the country, or if they claim they are close friends with a top police or army general, but yet are married to a bargirl (thus significantly lowering themselves on the Thai social scale, and making it questionable as to why a general would want to associate with them), then I would probably ignore them. However, if there is less barking coming from them and they seem more than happy to proceed to the next stage of the dispute, then I might start considering whether I need to start looking for some help or do a bit of arse-kissing. The skill is in being able to work out who is bluffing. It is not something you want to get wrong! As I pointed out in an old submission (The Loss of Innocence), when things go wrong in Thailand, they can really go wrong!

Can you make the case?

There seem to be a lot of guys saying they "go" with ladyboys but they're not gay. I only have one question for them. What do they "do" with the ladyboy? If they give her / him oral or do anal (pitching or catching), I don't see how they are not gay. But if they only receive oral, I guess they can make the case.



No longer a bargain.

I thought I'd add my thoughts on how things have changed over the years. I first started visiting in the mid 90s. You got first class hotels at a quarter of price in Europe, beer was cheap, barfines were reasonable as were long-time / short-time rates. Taxis and tuktuks were a challenge but if you haggled or insisted on the meter you could get across town for a £1. A good meal cost very little and I remember feeding 5 of us for less than £20 in a western bar. Nowadays with the baht at 49 to the pound how times have changed, especially in the bars. Once you add in the £700 airfare it's no longer a cheap holiday coming to Thailand when there are other destinations offering similar experiences and better value. Perhaps the bar owners ought to follow the Weatherspoon trend in the UK of keeping the price of beer down to get the punters in and be open about prices and offer value and then they might get a few more of us. I last visited in September and for the first time I didn't go to Nana for a look around, nor Patpong. I only visited Soi Cowboy a couple of times and there were an awful lot of ugly girls on parade and the bars were empty.

Higher airfares.

My annual holiday to Thailand is in doubt this year as flight prices from the UK to Thailand have shot up over 50% from last winter and I can't figure out why. Flight prices are key to tourism, and we are already looking at closer locations such as Goa and Sri Lanka. I'd be disappointed not to return to Thailand but I guess seeing somewhere else will make up for it.

CheckInn99.

Great article on CheckInn or as some ladies call it, just "99". I have called in there on the odd occasion over the years without being overly impressed but was intrigued with a "Saturday Night Fever" night they put on a couple of years back. Both myself and my pals were hooked. Great band, great atmosphere and an eclectic mix of friendly customers. I just had an 11-day business trip to Bangkok and visited CheckInn every second night. I just hope your article doesn't suck in some of the riff raff from other less salubrious venues as your writing did to my old favourite, Bangkok Beat.

From a Pattaya gogo bar owner.

Things have been slow in Pattaya. Our business is down from last year. Agency girls make it very hard to recruit girls. The girls think they are making 1,000 baht per night but in reality they only get about 60% of that. One example is lady drinks. They do not get commission on their first 5 lady drinks per night, a loss of 250 baht. We are doing OK, but I think other clubs are not. Currently, the clubs attracting Asians customers are doing the best.


Girl of the week

Mo, Angelwitch, Nana Plaza, Bangkok.



Angelwitch



Angelwitch



Angelwitch



Bangkok fetish house



The passing away of His Holiness The Supreme Patriarch has dominated the news in Thailand this week. The government announced a period of mourning in which government officials have been asked to wear black for 30 days. It was also announced that entertainment venues are to refrain from holding "joyful shows and performances".

On Friday night staff at Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza arrived for the busiest night of the week to be informed that due to the passing of the Supreme Patriarch bars would close for the night. The odd bar stayed open with a few venues still serving but all of the big bars closed. Over in Patpong it was a busy night and business as usual for the city's oldest bar area.

Down in Pattaya bars were open for business on Friday night where it was another night until 2 AM sharp when the coppers ordered all bars shut. At least one Pattaya gogo bar was told that service staff need to wear black or white during the period of mourning.

Come Saturday morning and naughty boy forums were in a frenzy about what the situation would be but speculation was short-lived and by late morning Saturday it appeared to be business as usual. In downtown Bangkok the beer bars of Soi Nana were lined with drinkers availing themselves of happy hour prices long before they'd given lunch any thought.

Late afternoon on Friday and some bars had received notices from the police stating that live music would not be allowed for 15 days. So what does this all mean for the next couple of weeks in the bar industry? While things will vary from bar to bar and bar area to bar area, it looks like it will largely be business as usual. Whereas two of Bangkok's bar areas were closed on Friday, Saturday was a normal night. Venue owners are talking to the authorities to check what is ok and what is not, mindful of being respectful while also keen to continue to operate through the period of mourning. A number of parties had been planned for the next couple of weeks and this week's column features details of a number of Halloween parties. Whether these events will still take place or not remains unclear at this stage although initial indications are that bar owners and managers do expect planned events to go ahead.

Angelwitch 2's official grand opening party is scheduled for this coming Thursday, October 31st.


Angelwitch2


Many bars in Nana Plaza are down on girl numbers and with November almost upon us and the expected upswing in tourist numbers just around the corner, word is that there may be a change of policy in some Nana bars towards coyote dancers. Unlike much of Soi Cowboy and Patpong soi 2, bars in the Plaza have resisted taking on coyote dancers AKA agency girls. It has long been a point of difference in Nana's favour. At present, the only bar in the plaza with coyote girls is Playskool – and they are a very pretty bunch and are all available. The issues with coyote / agency girls from a customer's perspective are to do with availability and pricing. The positives are that coyote dancers tend to be slimmer and more attractive – as is very much the case with the coyote dancers in Playskool, some of whom are hot. That there may be an influx of coyote girls in to the plaza is getting mixed reactions. Whether you're for or against it, something has to be done. Some Nana bars are bereft of girls and making the rounds this week there were 5 gogo bars in the plaza with fewer than 10 girls. One sizeable gogo bar had only 4 dancers! Quite simply, gogo bars without girls don't make money. For those bar owners in Nana which have a full contingent of girls, there is concern about how an influx of coyotes will be received, pointing to Cowboy as an example of what can happen. The whole coyote girl concept confuse customers, particularly first-timers or infrequent visitors who don't know who the coyotes are, who the regular dancers are – who is available and who is not. When Soi Cowboy bars started taking on coyote girls there was a definite movement amongst some customers towards Nana. At least one Nana bar owner is concerned that once regular gogo dancers learn how much coyotes make without the need to become hotel room ceiling experts, they will choose to become coyotes thus reducing gogo dancer numbers even further. My feeling is that some Nana Plaza bars have no choice and need to try and get coyotes in now. Coyote girls have helped make Patpong bars Club Electric Blue and The Strip – each of which has about half regular dancers / half coyotes – in to two of the best bars of their type in Bangkok at present. With the high season just around the corner and dancer numbers at an all time low in the plaza, some Nana bars may have no choice but to embrace the coyote concept. The difficulty is, of course, that agencies aren't exactly flush with coyote girls and it's not like they have hundreds on their books. Some agencies are nothing more than a one-man band, just a former mamasan who realised she could make more money finding girls and organising them to dance in bars than actually working all night every night in the bar.

The construction site on the ground floor of Nana, what was previously Pretty Lady bar, should open soon. The new venue will be called Spellbound and with a couple of very capable owners, expectations are high.

The hottest girl in the hottest bar in Nana Plaza is #61 in G Spot. She is hot, and the bar is hot!



Nana Disco closed a few years back, changed hands and reopened as Nana Liquid but never managed to recapture the glory days. It closed again and recently reopened, rebranded as Nana Disco. Despite the owners' best efforts it continued to struggle. This week it changed hands and has been acquired by the owners of Insomnia, Q Bar and Bash. Will they be able to make it work? Late night bars tend to get a slightly younger crowd and my feeling is that the general seediness of Soi Nana may put that crowd off. It will be interesting to see what the new owners have planned for it.

The owner of the popular Soi Nana bar The Big Mango closed the doors last month and is currently pondering options. The bar is still very much as it was when the doors were closed. More news when it comes to hand.

I recognised the face of the fellow who had just walked in to Club Electric Blue, but it took me a few seconds to realise it was Larry, the founder of Phuket's best gogo bar for 2 decades, Rock Hard. The last time I saw Larry was in the Clinton Plaza days and despite going head to head with the one he calls the killing smile in divorce court, Larry is looking well. The latest from Phuket is that Rock Hard will change management with rumours that those behind Suzy Wong (Phuket's Suzy Wong, NOT Bangkok's Suzy Wong) will be involved, and there will be 5 beer bars downstairs in a sub / sub / sub-let lease scenario.

Halloween ranks right up there with Loy Kratong and New Year as one the biggest occasions of the year in the bar industry as staff in many bars dress up. This coming Thursday Halloween parties are scheduled to take place in more bars than I have space to list. The best beer bar at the top of Soi Nana, Stumble Inn, will host a Halloween party with 20% off beers and spirits if you dress up and Halloween-themed shots. At Club Electric Blue in Patpong customers are encouraged to wear a Halloween costume. There will be special Halloween shots, Halloween music and a costume contest for the girls with cash prizes and 50 baht draft beer. Other venues celebrating Halloween include The Strip and Black Pagoda in Patpong and Angelwitch in Nana Plaza, the latter being famous for its annual Halloween party.

If you fancy a more laid back Halloween, try Senor Pico, the Mexican restaurant in the Rembrandt Hotel at Sukhumvit soi 18 which will hold a Halloween / Dia de Los Muertos event. The 3-day party runs from October 31st until November 2nd. There will be buy 2 get 1 free drink specials on all Sangrias, Bloody Rum Punch, and Devil's Handshake cocktails and a dessert buffet for just 199 baht as well as face painting and costume competitions.





Senor Pico Bangkok



Black Pagoda



Heaven Above Pattaya



It's not always clear why some bars do well and others don't. Why, for example, is Spanky's in Nana Plaza so popular? It isn't that big and while some of the girls are attractive, others have been around for rather a long time in an industry which tends to suck the life out of people and age them fast. I reckon the reason for the bar's popularity may have something to do with the owner creating atmosphere where staff feel they enjoy their work, almost like one big family. And that works for Thais, especially those from the provinces and so far from home. When Spanky's opened one night this week the owner tossed 4 buckets of ping pong balls for the girls to grab. That's 20 baht for each ping pong ball, money that comes directly out of the owner's pocket and goes straight into the girls'. He does that sort of thing once a month or so, and the look of excitement on the girls' faces was priceless. The bar really rocked that night!

From another bar boss comes word that if you drink mixed drinks in gogo bars, hand your glass back to the server when you order your next round with instructions to use the same glass again. It was explained to me that the hygiene of those washing glasses in some bars is appalling. In fact in some bars they don't actually wash the glasses with dishwashing liquid but merely rinse them. In one bar I watched the old bird responsible for dishwashing put tumblers under a tap, wipe the inside with her index finger twice and place them in the clean pile – ready to serve the next customer.

I erupted with laughter when reading a posting on a forum from a foreigner who disturbed locals robbing his house. He was awoken by a noise in another room and went to investigate, causing the perps to flee. They had dismantled a window and caused a fair bit of damage. Before entering his house they had flipped their shoes off and left them outside the window and they had not retrieved them when they fled. It's one thing to rob a house, but entering a house without removing one's footwear just isn't the done thing!

The latest visa news has it that the Thai embassy in Vientiane is getting tougher on visa applicants. Those with a bunch of used Thailand tourist visas in their passport are more likely than ever to have their application for another tourist visa declined. Foreigners living in Thailand on back to back tourist visas know that the more tourist visas in their passport, the more difficult it may be to get another. One reader told me he was in this situation and the solution is to pay $US 110 and get a new passport. Presumably he puts his current passport through the wash or something similar. The lengths people will go to stay in Thailand! Is it really worth it?!


There have been reports in the mainstream press about a proposed 500 baht fee to be levied on tourists entering the country from January 1st. To recap, a few weeks back news broke that Thailand was considering a compulsory medical insurance fee for all tourists. Apparently the country loses somewhere between 100 and 700 million baht per annum (the numbers vary from report to report) in unpaid medical bills by tourists and this fee would cover those losses. The mooted fee would be 30 baht per day for those staying up to 3 days and 500 baht for everyone else. Most visitors stay more than 3 days and when you do the maths, collecting 500 baht from each of the country's 25 million visitors would generate 12.5 billion baht, 15+ times the amount of the unpaid medical bills. After a strong reaction from some quarters claiming the numbers don't add up, further reasons have been cited for the introduction of such a fee. Authorities claim it will attract a higher quality tourist although I have been unable to join the dots on that. They also say that there are currently around 100,000 foreigners overstaying in Thailand and this fee will prevent that from happening although, again, I cannot understand how the proposed fee would help. If the fee is introduced and has to be paid on arrival, can you imagine the cluster you-know-what at the airport? The queues at Immigration at peak times throughout the high season can be very long. Imagine you have to queue not just for Immigration processing, but queue to pay the arrival fee too. And what about those travelling without Thai currency? Presumably major currencies would also be accepted – but at what exchange rate? They will just add the fee to the price of airfares like they did with the old 700 baht departure tax, I hear you say. Nah, it's a fee for tourists so levying it on all air tickets won't work. I presume that the fee will only apply to those on a tourist visa / visa waiver and not those with business, education, marriage or retirement visas. Tourists spend a huge amount in Thailand which contributes to the economy, yet at the same time are subject to double pricing at national parks where they pay 10 times the entry fee that Thai nationals do. Surely the money made from such attractions could go towards covering these unpaid medical costs? I just cannot see how the proposed entry fee will have any effect on the type of people who visit Thailand and attract a higher quality of tourist or reduce the number of overstayers. With the average Westerner spending $1,000+ on airfare alone, it's hard to see a 500 baht arrival fee having any effect on those looking for a holiday destination. Or perhaps I am looking at it the wrong way? Perhaps what is proposed will actually reduce the cost of a trip to Thailand? If this fee is introduced, are the authorities effectively saying that tourists do not need medical insurance because you are already covered? I doubt medical insurance can be arranged in your own country so cheap. So maybe your Thai holiday will in fact be cheaper?!



Quote of the week comes from a reader, "Friends you meet in the bars are often similar to the beer itself: cheap, readily available and of questionable quality."

Reader's story of the week is "Some Bangkok History", about the good old days at the El Torro Grande gogo bar.

The proposed Thailand tourist entry fee is getting negative press around the world.

The owner of Bangkok nightclub Santika destroyed by fire on New Year's Day 2009 is acquitted of charges.

A huge fire broke out near Walking Street in Pattaya causing much damage.

A ladyboy stabs two Japanese tourists in a Walking Street bar after they declined her offer of a massage.

The New York Times reports that tens of millions of dollars of never used fire trucks sit decaying outside Bangkok.

An extortionist is arrested in Phuket after a Frenchman was pressured to pay a commission on a property sale.


The Strip Gogo Bar Bangkok


Ask Sunbelt Asia Legal

Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department directly for all of your legal needs.



Question 1: It is nearly 5 years since I finished with my Thai girlfriend and left Thailand. I sent her a final text saying I had contacted the Thai police and Interpol about her Thai boyfriend who was trying to access my foreign bank accounts and had minor Mafia connections. Actually I hadn't, I just wanted to frighten them a little after I was followed around by her Thai boyfriend when in Bangkok on my own. Later, I learnt that the police had visited my previous girlfriend but could not get any details out of her. So I have a suspicion that she fabricated some charges (as the Thai boyfriend feels cheated as he made no profit out of the relationship but managed to steal some letters from one of my banks that indicated I had a large sum on deposit) so that I will be arrested when I arrive at the airport. So my question is this: Is there any way to check if I am on a watch-list at the airport? I also believe that there is a 6-year rule after which you can't be prosecuted but does this mean after the charge is made or after the claimed illegality took place?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: It is possible to check here in Thailand to see if there is an arrest warrant out for you. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can provide this service. We would need a copy of your passport (the one used at the time you departed Thailand) as well as the departure stamp and visa used at that time. Please feel free to contact Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors to help clear this matter up.



Question 2: I am a Kiwi with Australian citizenship. I worked and lived in Australia most of my life. I left Australia last year due to the cost of everything and I currently live in the EU. I have been law-abiding my whole life. However, having left Australia the government has been absolute bastards in terms of my superannuation / retirement fund and I was forced by law to pay a bean-counter A$17,000 for one year for basically filing a tax return and signing off a few bits of tax paperwork. I can't afford this every year (I am no millionaire and have less than half a million dollars in super, am just 52, and am running a very small internet business that barely covers costs right now, and yes, I know about Thailand's retirement visas and not running a business, which is why I'm now in the EU!) If I take my retirement money offshore I become a 'criminal', pure and simple. I am totally pissed off at the unfair burden the Australian government has given me and they are destroying my meagre retirement fund (I'm sure you know how far A$17,000 would go anywhere, much less in Thailand!) So, if I become a white collar outlaw and take me and my retirement money to Thailand, can Australia extradite me from Thailand for a 'self-fraud' crime? My understanding is 'NO' but am I correct? Yes or no? I don't want intricate legal advice, just a straight one sentence answer based on statutes.

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: Thailand and Australia are now trying to negotiate on an extradition convention, but at present, Thailand and Australia use the law on extradition that was signed between Siam and Great Britain in 1910 as this also includes Australia.

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors can't say exactly if Australia would ask for extradition on this issue. The treaty does not specify exactly which charges can and cannot be made for extradition, just that any charge which would result in imprisonment of more than 1 year is eligible for application for extradition.





Angelwitch

The final words in the column are seldom the final written, but in the case of this week's column they were. It would seem that the official period of mourning on the passing of the Supreme Patriarch will have little effect on the entertainment industry. Planned events like the Rocky Horror Show at CheckInn99 mentioned in last week's column will go ahead, as should the Halloween parties. It would seem that in the entertainment industry it will largely be business as usual.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


Firehouse