Two police corporals suspected of collecting a bribe from a food vendor in Nonthaburi in exchange for a special sticker have reportedly surrendered after a video of them went viral on social media.
The two officers on Wednesday met with Pol Col Sompon Wongsrisunthorn, deputy chief of Nonthaburi Provincial Police, after CCTV caught them with two other men suspected of trying to collect a monthly bribe of 3,500 baht from a fried banana vendor in Bang Yai district.
They denied the accusation.
The vendor was quoted as telling reporters that she was told someone would come to collect money from her on Tuesday. In turn, she would receive a small lion sticker with the word “June” written on it and a signature next to it. With such a sticker displayed where it could be seen, she would not be bothered by the police.
Subsequently, four people who claimed to be police officers visited her shop in a pickup truck to collect the monthly payment. The four, however, refused to get out of the car and drove away after she refused to pay them.
The vendor then filed a report with the Bang Mae Nang police out of concern for her safety.
Pol Col Sompon confirmed that the two policemen were caught on CCTV along with two others, one of whom was identified as Tee, in the pickup truck.
Investigators have pressed charges against the two officers for breaching Section 148 of the Criminal Procedure Code for abuse of power which carries a prison term ranging from 5-20 years and/or a fine of up to 100,000 baht. They will also be changed under Section 157 for malfeasance by public officials, which carries a prison term of up to 10 years and/or a fine ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 baht.
Pol Col Sompon said the two officers were not posted at Bang Mae Nang station but are part of an investigation unit that works in various places as and when they are assigned.
He also insisted that the police would take serious action against the two officers if they are proven guilty, as per the instructions of deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, who has demanded that bribery cases be dealt with in a serious manner.
Police are also investigating the other two men.
In a related development, a netizen has posted a video of a conversation with two Vietnamese dried squid vendors about bribe-paid stickers for migrant workers in Nonthaburi.
One of the vendors said he needed to earn about 1,000 baht per day, as he needed to pay eight or nine agencies almost 6,000 baht in total each month. The other said they needed to pay six agencies about 4,000 baht a month.
Once they paid, they said they would be given stickers with various animals on them, such as chickens or ducks. The netizen also shared a picture of a foreign vendor who has stickers with tigers and black panther figures.
“Sticker bribery” has entered the local vocabulary in recent weeks, with more instances of police malfeasance continuing to emerge. Lottery ticket sellers are among those who now claim that special stickers affixed to their display boards will keep the police out of their way.
The sticker racket was first brought to light by Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, a Move Forward party list MP-elect. He produced evidence that overloaded trucks with special stickers were not being detained, nor were their drivers ever arrested. The practice had been going on for two decades, he said.
So far, 12 highway police officers out of 40 implicated in the truck sticker bribe scandal have been charged with extortion and misconduct.