Begging for trouble

Begging for trouble

Some unscrupulous Chinese, with the help of Thais, have been the subject of recent news reports about fake beggars on Bangkok streets. This began after Kanthat Pongpaiboonvej, alias "good Samaritan" Kan Chompalang, reported a woman in a school uniform with a deformed face begging in the Pin Klao area two weeks ago.

Police responded and took the woman (who was Chinese) to Bang Phlat police station for an interview, and she was released afterwards.

Six other Chinese women in school uniforms were seen begging elsewhere in the city, some with limbs missing and their faces also deformed, similar to the woman in Pin Klao. Police detained several of these as well. There are viral clips showing Chinese men also begging on city streets.

While merit makers perceive beggars as a chance to do good, this case has spotlighted beggars who travel from neighbouring countries to beg on streets in Bangkok or tourist towns. According to information from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, last year, 2,473 "foreign beggars" from Cambodia, Myanmar and China were arrested.

The latest cases are part of human smuggling rings, and others like them typically enter Thailand and beg on the streets with the help of Thais. The money such fake beggars make is enticing -- estimated to be 10,000 baht per day, according to Mr Kanthat's investigation.

This case has many sinister details. It is reported that one of the detained women told police that she received an education visa from an educational institute in Lampang province. When arrested, these fake beggars also had Thai translators to provide legal services and pay fines, allowing them to leave the country quietly instead of being deported to China as illegal immigrants with criminal records.

Mr Kanthat's investigation also found these bogus beggars rented an apartment and enjoyed the good life, dining at restaurants and drinking after begging on the streets.

The news drew public reaction to the level that the Royal Thai Police (RTP) and The Ministry of Human Security announced a fresh investigation into the case.

Indeed, one issue that RTP must address is finding out how such fake beggars enter Thailand and get visas. It is not the first time there have been reports about Thai schools giving education visas to Chinese who were later found involved in illicit behaviour.

For example, last December year, the RTP conducted a major investigation into immigration police and several schools in northern and eastern. The probe followed a notorious case involving Chinese triad boss Chaiyanat "Tuhao" Kornchayanant, who was involved in illegal businesses in Thailand. Many applicants submitted documents regarding their stay issued by language schools or volunteer foundations as a ploy to extend their visa.

The investigation found more than 100 immigration officers were suspected of being involved in the illegal issuing of visas for Chinese investors. Among the 110 police suspects are three police generals and a mix of officers of every rank.

Given this recent case with the fake beggars, the RTP and the Ministry of Education must inspect police immigration and schools that offer education visas to such individuals. Instead of letting individuals like Mr Kanthat and netizens hunt for fake beggars, it is time for the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to stamp out such practices and the human smuggling rings that drive them.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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