Want to find a foreign criminal? Try the Rotary or Masons!
The amusing raid yesterday by the local Department of Provincial Administration has possibly in ‘one foul’ swoop reminded the world that all is not well in the Thai provincial city of Pattaya.
In 24 hours the story has gone around the world and back.
As around them every conceivable vice in the Bible and a lot more were being indulged in, military government soldiers and DOPA officials raided essentially a foreign senior citizen’s Bridge Club. Of the 30 members there the youngest was fifty – the oldest over 80.
They thought they were raiding a gambling den. But dammit there was no money to be found anywhere.
But the district chief (Nai Amphur) was having nothing of it. The raid would go on. Ah, there are more than two packets of cards on the table. Thai law stipulates there cannot be more than 120 cards on the table.’ Book em’ Danno!”
Queries on his arithmetic went nowhere. Even with two packs the sums did not add up. Must be a few extra jokers. It was going from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Caught in the raid was the club’s founder Barry Kenyon, 74.. He is a former British Corresponding Consul more accustomed to dealing with ‘Brits in the Sh*t’ than being one.
‘They just would not believe we would play for fun and points no matter what we said.”
DOPA and the military were not convinced. ‘What are in those cassette boxes? What’s in the computer?’
“I see. You put it all in the computer and settle up later!”
The District Chief was not convinced. ‘Take them down to the police station and charge them’, he ordered, and the motley bunch one with a walking stick were led into the waiting songteow.
But while this may seem incredibly funny, and it certainly was the first time I read it, what happened next was not.
The 30 foreigners were detained for 3.30 pm yesterday to 3.30 am today. No food was provided but a local 7/11 shopkeeper provided a delivery service. Every time a member went to the toiler he or she had to be escorted by police.
Herding old aged pensioners like that says more than anything else. It’s blatantly inhuman. It’s totally at odds with the Thai reputation for ‘hospitality’ and ‘respect for the elderly’ and and may even lead people to question that reputation or whether foreigners are included.
All were bailed in the sum of 5000 just under £100 baht but the group’s new President Jeremy Watson, 74, had to pay 50,000 baht (£1600 plus).as he was the ring ‘il cappo di tutti capi’.
They reported to the police station at 10 am to board a bus to the court. But the court appearance was cancelled at the last minute.
The plan was foiled after Khunying Chodchoy Sophonpanich (Sophie) the Thai president of the Asia-Pacific Bridge Federation, explained Bridge rules to local authorities.
Now lets hope they get an apology in person from the District Chief -- and no baying of ‘If you don’t like this country -- Go back home!’
Had not the Khunying intervened and the case not been cancelled the foreigners could have been embroiled in a court case which could have lasted for years and cost each member tens of thousands of pounds not least from avaricious lawyers. Because the case was brought by the authorities no pre-trial presentation would have been necessary.
They might have had to sit through months of testimony as each officer was brought to testify before they had a chance to answer – and ,even if they won, the prosecution could appeal – and in that case they would remain on bail. By this time the trial could be in its third year.
Had they planned to leave the country during this time, they would have to go to court to apply to leave and pay extra bail of at least another 100,000 Thai baht…and so it goes on The only way to avoid such problems would have been undercover payments.
Is this an isolated incident? Actually no. In Koh Samui a woman aged 88 was among many arrested and taken to court on a charge with working without a visa. Her crime – to take part in an owners meeting of the estate in which she had bought her home. The estate was managed by a foreign landlord who should much rather have been locked up himself.
The Department of Public Administration in Pattaya collects fees from go-go bars, massage parlours etc in Pattaya. The sex trade is technically illegal. But that illegality is dealt with by paying the fees.
With the military now in control in Thailand it seems there are more people to pay.
Of course if the Department of Public Administration and really wanted to hunt down foreign criminals, by all historical accounts they would have fared better raiding a local Rotary Club, Masonic Lodge, Expat Club, ot Property Company.
(Club Pictures PattayaOneTV)