Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday, July 18, 2016


While the Thai-Visa forum recovers from the statement by blue blooded Thai Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrankgkul, who told Reuters ‘We want the sex industry gone’, sex tourists can be re-assured that the vibrant sex industry is not yet on the way out.

Tourism in Thailand of course continues to rise by the year – even visitors from Europe - and despite a drop in Russians by about 50 to 60 per cent, says Minister Kobkarn – this year numbers expect to reach a new high of 28.8 million people.

Indeed no matter what the critics stay there are few places in the world offering what Thailand can - at moderate prices.

Minister Kobkarn’s wishes are however unlikely to be fulfilled. This was of course not because of the prediction by Thai Visa posters that the country will crash without the sex industry. 

No, her government will need to give the poor people an actual opportunity to earn real money. When she says 'we' I do not believe this is an official government statement - because the military can do as it likes.

Most visitors to Thailand are not sex tourists – but one could be forgiven that sex tourists are all that local readers see. 

There have been a few hiccups suggesting there is a crackdown on sex tourism.  Indeed, in Pattaya the undisputed sex tourism capital of the country tourists have even suffered coitus interruptus as a result – but it’s still full steam ahead in the hunt for the sex tourist dollar.

One such person, who has been caught with his pants down, is self-confessed sex tourist Mark, a South African businessman, who tells me that on his recent trips onto the twilight world of the city the place has been positively heaving. 

But it was not for a period last month when Thailand’s military essentially took over the resort, replacing the Mayor Ittipol Khunpleum, son of Godfather Somchai Khunpleum, according to Mark.

It was then that twice Mark was caught on job with members of staff banging on the door to his rented love-nest telling him and his new friends to put on their clothes and get out damn quickly as the police were on their way – first at the Roxy Bar in Soi 6 and secondly at the Perry Bar in the same street.

At the Roxy he says he was offered a ‘free go’ at a later date – an offer which he took up.

But at the Perry Bar he did not. He believes there may have been a raid as he was hidden in a bathroom/toilet while he heard men go up and down the stairs. But the court is out on this.

Anyway ‘a deal’s a deal’, he thought, and he went back to the Perry bar he asked for a receipt for the payments he made for the drinks, room, and girl.  

When a piece of paper was produced he got out his mobile phone and photographed it. 

This, he said, resulted in a pack attack with the mamasan and bar girls beating him all over until he rushed to a corner of the bar and said he was not leaving until the police arrived.

Mark is something of a stickler for the correct order. Readers of this site might recall that he was arrested a year ago.  This was when he took two young women back to his apartment and they reneged on the agreed financial deal by upping the price at the last minute.

He escorted them out of his condo – and as they would not accompany him back to the bar – where he wanted a refund -   he held on to their ID cards to settle the matter at the police station the next day.

Pattaya Police lock-up
This seemed a trifle optimistic – and indeed it was. As he had taken their IDs during the hours of darkness he was charged with ‘robbery by night’ and police also threw in concocted charge that he did not have a visa.  He did but his passport was at home and in the meantime he spent 14 days in jail and was of course shaken down by bent lawyers. 

(The visa charge was dropped and he did force the lawyers to give him a refund but the whole affair cost him well over 100,000 baht and, despite the creation of the so called fast track tourists courts, the case still does not come up for months).

Anyway, after being caught in flagrante at the Perry Bar and after the alleged attack, Mark duly ended up at the police station where he said he wished to place charges for the attack against him.

Police however refused to let him make a complaint. Instead the mamasan placed a charge of assault against him and demanded he settle up with 6000 Thai baht – backed by police.

(This is a sort of predictable outcome and not part of Minister Kobkarn’s new ‘Discover Thainess’ campaign. But then again the Minister will not be feeling sorry for Mark).

Above: Minister Kobkarn gives interview to Turkish journalist

Police took his passport and driving licence. The matter is still unresolved. 

Said Mark:
 “There were no media at the police station. Had they been there they could have showed in images that it was I who was attacked – not the mamasan. 
“This is a matter of principle. It’s a matter of credibility, “he said: “I treat the women with respect. I always pay the amount required, and sometimes more. 
“I asked police about these raids. They simply said they could not talk about them. 
"This is not fair. The sex trade in Thailand is openly promoted. I follow the rules. Why am I being persecuted for it?"

Mark - X-ray
Mark has since had CT scans taken of his head injuries. He has had them examined by independent neurologists. Unlike the Pattaya hospital’s findings, he says, they show he has a head fracture.

The demand for payment by police, he says, has since dropped to 5000 baht – and if he wants his passport back he will need to meet the officer this Wednesday at the police station at 4 am. 

I am not about to ask Mark how he is going to while away the hours until 4 am. He does not drink alcohol, smoke etc.

Meanwhile as Pattaya Police would not take his complaint he travelled all the way to the provincial capital Chonburi – to the headquarters of Region 2 of the Royal Thai Police where he was able to lodge it. 

He then returned to Pattaya Police station with his statement for police to investigate and where I suspect it will gather dust for years – and finally lost.

The bars in Soi 2 are of course acting illegally and have been doing so for years. They all pay their monthly dues to various police departments and are thus declared legal. That is until police get hungry and do spot raid or perhaps when the army arrives. They are illegal in that they provide rooms for sex. 

Mark had of course in effect demanded proof that this was a venue offering sexual services.

There is no suggestion that bars in Pattaya's Soi 6 offer sexual services.

Usually of course in the sex trade in Thailand the punter pays the bar fine (technically to make up for lost working hours of the girl) and what goes on afterwards is up to the couple.

This is of course nonsense – many bars in the sex trade demand that the girls are taken out a minimum of 12 times a month or more – and that constitutes sex trade exploitation, if not slavery.

However, as the woman earn many times more than minimum average Thai salary the point may be a bit moot.

As for Mark. Yes, I have suggested he go back to South Africa. I have told him he is on a hiding to nothing with his complaints.  But he is going onward and upward, or downward, whichever way you look at it.

After the Perry Bar incident, he returned to collect his belongings. They had gone, he said. They were a ‘Ferrari bag, a pair of Pro-Studio headphones, ‘Be Nice’ Body lotion, Bulgari Aqua Amara men’s fragrance, and a pair of Saucony running shoes.  

Seems he is not only fit, and a follower of fashion but smells good too and, he says, he practices 'safe sex'.

And now back to Khun Kobran’s wish to get rid of the sex industry.  

I am afraid, as she would have readily admitted had the Reuters correspondent asked, she has no powers or control whatsoever over this industry – and as the major benefactors are the police and army her wishes are unlikely to be granted.  

General Prayuth Chan-Ocha has already long since announced that he is not going to take the police to task – and for a beginning his own military staff have an interest in the Nana Plaza in Bangkok and various bars now in the control of our favourite boiler-room Brit – Brummie, Paul, er, ‘Hilton’.

One Minister of Tourism, Dr. Seri Wangpaichitr condemned the setting up of ‘Human Zoos’ in Thailand years ago after I was involved in the rescue of about 20 children and 12 adults from one in Thaton, Northern Thailand, after writing a series of stories for the ‘Times’ about the Padaung, or long-necked Karenni. 

This was his reply indicating perhaps that while he condemned the trade......:only the international media could budge the powers that be.

Now how many human zoos for the Padaung are there in Thailand today?


Horizons said...

I think, later rather than sooner, we'll hear about the mass entrapment, extortion, torture, and at times murder of both Thais and foreigners in Pattaya over the decades. All under the guise of its apparent founding father. In the meantime, Mark doesn't need to worry too much - thanks to the publicity. Murder may well have happened without it. Best get to Departures, but each to his own.

Horizons said...

To be clear, I believe the truth of such matters will come from Thai people, when liberated from scare-tactic-mafia-omerta-thought, Stockholm Syndrome if you like. Kamnam Poh, his many henchmen and affiliated gangs, much including the police, will go down in history as straight-up mass murderers, besides their plethora of obvious transnational-crime rackets. Criminals in, good guys watch out. No change.

Bob Kneale said...

What publicity does the South African have to be thankful for, a mention here?

Megalodon said...

If only there could be an overthrow - yet again for the umpteenth time - of the Thai military by the people of Thailand.
Democracy restored.
A Constitutional Monarchy imposed in the country - military confined to barracks.
A corrupt free Thai police & Judiciary system.
One can but dream..

Horizons said...

Maybe, but he's primarily a self-publicist it would appear. In the grander scheme I believe that this website is likely to have saved a number of lives over the years. Certain people aren't too keen on publicity, but seem to have no problem with violence and murder. And therein lies a conundrum.

Mark Berchowitz said...

Mark's response to Bob Kneale's question RE publicity:

It is believed that information shared with Mr Drummond is within the scope of readers interests, and offers an increasing awareness and insight as to the industry, Thai policing, and decision making.

That which is intriguing is how police i) order a tourist to pay a 6,000 THB fine, ii) have their driver's licence and passport confiscated, and iii) refuse them the right to file a report, after booking and paying for a room and a) being evicted twice, b) assaulted and c) subject to theft with 16,000 THB medical, and 25,000 THB stolen the same evening.

Notwithstanding, there is reasonable evidence for a), b) and c) with timestamp and location for events in the form of Google Location History, Android Voice recordings, and documentation including Bangkok Hospital Pattaya medical certificate, imaging, bills, invoices, Reflections CCTV footage, and slips for payment on items replaced.

Time will tell as to how tourism minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul's campaign to put an end to the sex tourism industry unfolds, this being one of the key attractions and drivers of revenue for destinations such as Pattaya.

This is coupled to the apparent contradiction in Thai law and practice, as "In Thailand where bar fine prostitution is common, it is technically illegal but widely tolerated"

I extend a word of thanks and gratitude to Mr Drummond for inclusion in the article.

Lancashirelad said...

Can I have some of what you're smoking / drinking Mr. B?

D. Farang said...

"..this being one of the key attractions and drivers of revenue for destinations such as Pattaya."

Thanks for sharing Mark - and I fondly remember my first trip to Pattaya too - almost ten years ago to the day - seems like yesterday. Could we inferentially call them the "good old days?"

Either a farang has been under the "klieg lights" - read bar fined a young lady - or they haven't. Reluctantly count me in for transparencies sake - and I suspect Mr. Drummond too at some point - for "heaven's" sake..


D. Farang said...

I'm sure you can find it where you hang your hat L lad. Both are best to be avoided - outside moderation of course. 555


Statmonkey said...

Personally, I applaud Mr. Berchowitz. Let's face it, either it's legal or it's not legal to utilize these services and either it's theft when you are robbed or it's not. Only by pushing these cases can a light be shined on them and only by reporting are the nefarious activities of the police and military brought out. The bottom line here for me is that the new boss is the old boss, don't get fooled again.

Statmonkey said...

Publishing the Bild pictures Andrew? You won't need The Weapon to do anything to those. What about reporting on the new FooFoo? Or the new fashion of arresting the wives when you can't get to the principal? I can't help but think the lid is about to come off the Thai Circus in relatively short order.

Andrew Drummond said...

Reading my mind again