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Tourist harassment claims to be investigated

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The story that foreign tourists are being stopped, searched and harassed by Thai officials on busy Sukhumvit Road has been the "talk of the town" among western expats and tourists for months. Now, according to the spokesman for the Royal Thai Police Office, it is getting some high-level attention.

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Pol Lt Gen Prawut Thavornsiri, spokesman for the Royal Thai Police Office, says reports that tourists are being harassed by police have damaged the country's image and will be investigated. APICHART JINAKUL

Police probe claims of tourist searches

Police are probing a report by an Australian newspaper that some Bangkok police officers have been extorting bribes from foreigners on Sukhumvit Road, spokesman for the Royal Thai Police Office (RTPO) said Tuesday.

Pol Lt Gen Prawut Thawornsiri was responding to an article published by The Sydney Morning Herald on Dec 12, which said a growing number of foreign tourists are being stopped, searched and harassed by Thai officials on busy Sukhumvit Road.

Similar claims – including those that some foreigners have been subjected to on-the-spot urine tests for drugs – have become increasingly frequent, with the Bangkok Post having received three letters to the editor about the alleged scams and other media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, highlighting them in the past month.

Mark Kent, British ambassador to Thailand, brought up the subject of the tourist-searches with Ministry of Tourism and Sports officials who claimed there was no organised campaign targeting tourists and that they would investigate claims of random searches.

The Australian newspaper report said officials for months have been stopping foreigners and demanding to see their passports in an attempt to extort bribes. The "officials" referred to police officers and city inspectors.

Pol Lt Gen Prawut told ASTV Manager that the RTPO is examining the facts to see if the alleged extortion targeting foreigners occurred and if fake or real policemen were involved.

He said if the probe found no evidence as claimed, the RTPO will submit a written clarification to the Australian embassy in Bangkok. He said the alleged incidents of extortion by Thai authorities in the Australian paper really damaged the image of Thailand.

Pol Maj Gen Apichai Thi-amart, chief of the Tourist Police Division, said he had not been made aware of the incidents but ordered an investigation into the matter.

This subject has been the "talk of the town" for months on social media sites popular with western expats and tourists in Thailand, so it is not surprising that last night's online story on bangkokpost.com (http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/450237/police-probe-claims-of-tourist-searches) is generating a lot of comments

Here are three examples:

rastas: Chief of the Tourist Police Division hasn't heard about this? This scam has been going on for years, and it ebbs and flows – the   demand to carry your passport (photocopy is not acceptable) with bribe fine, the Turn out your pockets or random bag search with bribe fine, the smoking while walking with bribe fine, etc, etc. Have a look at the Scam Warning web sites, and you will see that it's been going on for years.

greatsage: This has been going on for quite a long time, but recently the frequency of these shakedowns has increased exponentially.

hdthumper
: Never had a problem, Lucky? Perhaps. I Always carry a photo-copy of the front page and of the entry stamp.

Adapted from a story by our online reporters.

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Vocabulary:

acceptable : that somebody agrees is of a good enough standard - ที่ยอมรับได้

alleged : claimed to be true although not yet proven; claimed to have done something wrong but not yet proven - ที่ถูกกล่าวหา

ambassador : a senior official who lives in a foreign country and represents his or her own country there - เอกอัครราชทูต

authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ

aware (adj): knowing that something exists, or to have knowledge or experience of a particular thing - ทราบ, รับรู้

bribe : money or a present given to someone so that they will help you doing something dishonest or illegal - สินบน

campaign : a planned series of activities - การรณรงค์

claim : to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - อ้าง

clarification (noun): explaining something more clearly so that it is easier to understand - การทำให้กระจ่าง, การอธิบาย

ebb and flow (verb): to repeatedly, often regularly, move from one state to another; to repeatedly change in level, numbers or amount - ขึ้นลง

embassy : a building where a group of officials work who represent their government in a foreign country - สถานทูต

evidence : facts statements or objects that help to prove whether or not someone has committed a crime - หลักฐาน

expatriate (expat) : a person living in a country that is not their own - คนที่อาศัยอยู่ต่างประเทศ (เป็นเวลานาน)

exponentially (adv): becoming faster and faster - เพิ่มแบบชี้กำลัง

extort : to try to illegally obtain something by force or threat - รีดไถ

extortion : the crime of trying to obtain something by force or threat - การขู่กรรโชก  รีดไถ

fake : made to look like something real to trick people - ปลอม

fine : an amount of money that you have to pay because you have broken the law - ค่าปรับ

frequency : the number of times something happens within a particular period - ความบ่อย

frequent : happening often - เกิดขึ้นบ่อย

generate : to produce - ก่อให้เกิด

harass : to keep attacking or annoying someone - รบกวน, ทำให้ลำบากใจ

highlight : to make something more noticeable - เน้น,ทำให้เด่น

image : an opinion that people have about someone or something - ภาพลักษณ์

incidents : events which are either unpleasant or unusual - เหตุการณ์

inspector  : an official whose job is to check that things are in the correct condition or that people are doing what they should - ผู้ตรวจสอบ

investigate : to try to find out the facts about something in order to learn the truth about it - ตรวจสอบหาความจริง

involved (verb): taking part or having a role in something - เกี่ยวข้อง, มีบทบาท

matter : a situation or subject which is being dealt with or considered - เรื่อง, ภารกิจ, งาน

media outlets : newspaper, television, radio companies, etc. -

occur : to happen - เกิดขึ้น

on-the-spot (adj): happening at the place where you are, i.e., immediately without moving somewhere else -

popular (adj): a situation in which someone or something is liked by many people - เป็นที่นิยม, เป็นที่ชื่นชอบ

probe : an investigation - การสอบสวน

probe : to investigate; to attempt to find out the truth about something; to examine - ตรวจสอบ

random : happening, done or chosen by chance rather than according to a plan - ซึ่งไม่มีแบบแผน

scam : a dishonest plan, especially for getting money - กลโกง, แผนร้าย

search (noun): looking somewhere or through something carefully in order to find something - การค้นหา

search (verb): to look somewhere carefully in order to find someone/something - ค้นหา

social media : the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc. - เครือข่ายสังคมออนไลน์

subject to : to require something to be done; to make somebody/something experience, suffer or be affected by something, usually something unpleasant - ต้องมีการ..., ทำให้ได้รับ

target : to direct something at someone or something - ตั้งเป้าหมาย

urine : liquid waste passed from your body - น้ำปัสสาวะ

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