Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Crackdown On Foreign Criminals In Pattaya Starts

Pattaya Beach in Thailand is well-known in Asia as being an adult playground, with a 12-mile-long beach lined with upscale shopping malls, myriad bars, discos, and restaurants, and fancy hotels. There are 20 golf courses, an aquarium, a water park, botanical gardens, a convention center that regularly hosts ASEAN conferences and heads of state, and what used to be the largest hotel in the world.

In addition, there are a quarter of a million bar girls (and, with one of the largest gay neighborhoods in Asia, bar boys). There is lots and lots of crime and lots and lots of drugs too.

There are lots of criminals... foreigners and Thai people alike.

There is one major difference in the criminals though: Thai criminals come to Pattaya to commit crime. Foreign criminals (for the most part, with notable exceptions) come to Pattaya to hide from the crimes they committed elsewhere.

It is believed that this will be ending soon: The Immigration department in Pattaya (which records the name of every foreigner checking into a hotel) is soon going to take their database of visitors and start comparing it to arrest warrants issued overseas.

Unfortunately, there is a major problem with this idea in practice:

It simply isn't too difficult to avoid winding up in Pattaya Immigration's visitor database. Criminals who rent houses (or the huge community of Russian and East European millionaire criminals who own the monstrous mansions in the hills outside of town) don't have their names submitted to hotels. (The houses are in the names of Thai corporations.) When one renews his visa at the Cambodian border, Pattaya Immigration doesn't hear about it. If one takes regular flights every few months into and out of the country, then one's name never needs to wind up on a desk at Immigration at all.

The really wealthy and notorious criminals already have the Thai Elite card, forged papers, or some other way to stay in the country without having to show up at Pattaya Immigration. Then, for extra insurance... well, Thai government officials really love their tea money.

Finally, if Pattaya isn't welcoming to the international criminal element, there is always Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui, Roi Et, or any of 1000 other places where tourists are welcome in The Land of Smiles... no questions asked.

In the end, the question is simple: Why is this Pattaya's problem alone? Why should Thailand focus its efforts there? If Pattaya Immigration can hook up to a database of international arrest warrants, why can't the entire country of Thailand do the same? Why can't they sniff these people out at the airport or the borders?

Well, there is a reason: Thailand is only worried about appearances, not process, and not results. In Thailand, as far as Thai people are concerned, setting up this toothless little system in Pattaya is proof positive that wanted criminals aren't welcome there. That's good enough.

And if the criminals can't figure that out and just leave... or allow themselves to be caught and deported... well, that's not Thailand's fault.


fontok69 said...

Good comments here...
Pattaya has 250,000 bar girls?
About 12% of them are pretty...

Marty Rademakers said...

Thai criminals come to Pattaya to commit crime. Foreign criminals (for the most part, with notable exceptions) come to Pattaya to hide from the crimes they committed elsewhere.

Note True!! Foreign criminals now go to Pattaya to commit crimes. In the last year, a Columbian criminal gang busted, a Russian mafia gang busted, Nigeraian credit card gang busted (made 10 million baht in just 3 months)...throw in the thai drug gangs there and its a real mess!!