Tourist behind 'escort' clip has left
Questions surround Elite Card scheme
published : 27 Jan 2023 at 06:00
newspaper section: News
The Chinese tourist who posted a video clip showing three Thai police officers offering her a shortcut through immigration and a police escort to her hotel in Pattaya has already left the country, the Tourist Police Bureau (TBP) said on Thursday.
Should the tourist be needed for further questioning in relation to the case, authorities can seek the assistance of Chinese authorities under a Thai-Chinese police liaison agreement, said Pol Maj Gen Apichat Suriboonya, spokesman for the TPB, noting that a criminal investigation into the officers' conduct has yet to be launched.
Responding to growing calls for the police to prosecute the tourist for accepting the officers' offer, Pol Maj Gen Apichat said the TPB has to act with the utmost caution, so as not to ruin the cordial relations between the two countries.
Pol Maj Gen Apichat said the TPB has received numerous tip-offs from the public, many of which showed online advertisements for similar services. "We are investigating to find out who is responsible [for the advertisements]," he said.
When asked about the progress of the investigation into the case, he said the TPB has found evidence confirming two of its officers were actively offering immigration shortcuts and police escort services.
He said the public will be informed once the probe concludes.
In related news, Pheu Thai Party MP Jirayu Huangsap criticised Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn for failing to show up at Thursday's House session to answer questions surrounding the Thailand Elite Card scheme.
Mr Jirayu said he would like the PM and the Tourism and Sports minister to respond to recent findings which showed the Elite Card had been sold to several Chinese citizens which authorities suspect are part of a transnational crime syndicate.
As Elite Card holders, these individuals were able to purchase properties and access privileges including fast-track immigration clearance. He said he would like to know how the government plans to prevent Elite Card holders from abusing their immigration privileges.
Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome also said he had evidence to prove a relative of Gen Prayut was involved in illegal activities conducted by a Chinese criminal syndicate.