A Singaporean man who was with a Taiwanese actress who alleged earlier that her group was extorted said police told him to pay up or spend two days in jail for having vaping devices he'd bought in Bangkok.
The 29-year-old man who identified himself only as “Sky” appeared before reporters at the Davis Bangkok Hotel of former politician and massage parlour tycoon Chuvit Kamolvisit on Wednesday.
His appearance came a day after police said they would travel to Singapore and Taiwan if necessary to interview witnesses in the case and would not charge them with paying bribes.
Speaking mostly in Thai, Mr Sky said he and three friends including actress Charlene An had joined the birthday party of a friend at a restaurant in the Sukhumvit area on the night of Jan 3.
Afterward he and two friends including the actress took a Grab taxi to head for the Huai Khwang area.
At a police checkpoint in front of the Chinese embassy, police stopped their taxi and asked for their passports. He did not have his.
Police ordered them to get out of the cab and take off their shoes. Then police found his vapourisers and they were told that they would have to go to a police station.
The Singaporean man said he had three vaping devices but the Taiwanese actress had none.
Officers then seized the vapourisers and policemen in uniforms demanded they pay money in exchange for being spared from charges related to vapourisers and alleged failure to have a visa. The Singaporean said he had a visa on arrival.
Police told them that they would be jailed for two days unless they made payment, according to Sky.
He then asked the policemen why vapourisers were illegal because they were generally available in Thailand.
Police told him that he had to pay 8,000 baht per vapouriser plus 3,000 baht for failure to carry a passport. The total was 27,000 baht.
“I was very stressed and wanted to get away quickly. I was afraid of police and imprisonment. So, I gave all the 30,000 baht that I had then and they took 27,000 baht,” Sky said.
He said the officers did not allow the tourists to use their phones and kept threatening to bring them to a police station. He said he was also stressed because in Singapore it was a serious crime to bribe police.
After the payment, police called a taxi for his group.
Sky said he had bought vapourisers at a market in Huai Khwang without knowing that they were illegal. He said he saw them generally available and understood that in the country the devices were legal like cannabis.
The Singaporean man said he would love to revisit Thailand in the future but he admitted he was afraid of Thai police and had already learned the Thai word thai, meaning extortion.
He also said that he remembered the faces of the policemen who stopped his group.
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