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Sunday 5 May 2024

Thais get spicy with aggressive and critical tourists

Thailand is generally seen as a laid-back tourism destination but Thais officials are starting to crack down on bad behaviour and, more controversially, criticism.

On the holiday island of Phuket, the governor and senior police officials will hold a meeting with the consuls of a dozen countries to discuss measures to tackle the rise in crime perpetrated by foreign tourists and expats, Travel Mole reports.

This follows the arrest of a British tourist for the alleged assault of a taxi driver that followed an argument over the taxi fare.

The taxi driver made a police complaint and the tourist, named only as Graham by police, was tracked down on the Phi Phi islands and brought back to Phuket.

He is accused of slapping the driver and grabbing him by the throat. He could potentially face jail time and be deported.

More concerning is the growing trend towards acting against anyone criticising Thailand, particularly online.

Regular readers will remember that las year an American blogger was jailed and forced to apologise for online criticism of a Thai hotel.

And now Tourist Police have warned a British tourist identified as Mr. Thomas, against posting videos criticising the country on social media, citing the potential harm to the nation's image and security, Asean Now reported.

The deputy inspector of Mae Hong Son Tourist Police, Lt. Col. Suwit Boonyaphen, said that Mr. Thomas's videos were critical of Thai public and private agencies.

Mr. Thomas was tracked down at his residence in Pai district where police urged him to understand the potential consequences of his actions. He was ordered to delete all his videos hosted on YouTube and other social media platforms and was taken to the police station to be interviewed.

He was warned that if he continues posting "potentially harmful material about Thailand" online, he could face prosecution under Thai law.

Mr Thomas has now apologized on YouTube.

Our Thai correspondent says visitors should be reminded that defamation is a criminal act in Thailand, and the truth or fair criticism are not absolute defences. So visitors should be very, very careful.

Image: Winsor Dobbin

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