According to an Instagram post, Taiwanese actress Charlene An will never visit Thailand again after, she says, she was ripped off by Thai police to the tune of 27,000 baht (approximately $830).
The actress said she visited Thailand during New Year, when the van she was travelling in was stopped at a checkpoint in the Huai Khwang district early in the morning of January 4th by Thai police.
During the questioning of the van’s occupants, Charlene An alleges Thai police told her the visa she was carrying was not valid, as it should be printed in her passport with an official emblem.
Charlene An says she was taken to a Thai police station where she was harassed and extorted
After taking her and her group to a police station, where they were kept for more than two hours, screamed at, harassed and searched, An says police took her to a quiet corner of the station and told her “Everybody pays 27,000 baht to be let go”.
After she paid, and as Charlene An and her group were leaving, the Taiwanese actress says she saw a group of Korean women also being harassed and screamed at by police.
The Thai Facebook group Nihao Taiwan, I’m Here, which has over 60,000 followers, has translated An’s Instagram post. It said:
It happened to me on Wednesday, January 4. My friends and I were travelling to our hotel in a taxi at around 1am. Police at a checkpoint told the taxi driver to stop, then they searched the car, our bags, and us but they couldn’t find anything illegal. So they kept asking to check our visas.
I gave them my visa, the VOA (aka a visa on arrival), which was issued at Bangkok airport legally. The officers refused to let me go, saying my visa was unacceptable. They said I had to carry the printed visa with a stamp from the official department. They tried every way to fake some kind of charge against me.
The actress also says someone in her group recorded the encounter with Thai police, but was told to delete it.
In her post Charlene An called Thai police “bastard police”, and warned other Taiwanese travelers to not carry very much money if they travel to Thailand:
I would like to warn every Taiwanese who visits Thailand, do not carry too much cash. The police will check your wallets to see how much cash you are carrying, and try to get it with a fake charge.
Extortion of foreign tourists in Thailand by Thai police has been a hot topic for a long time
An’s Instagram post to her 110,000 followers (which is still up on her video highlights) sparked Police Colonel Yingyos Suwanno to state his district didn’t usually have checkpoints in the area where Charlene An says she was stopped.
But the Nihao Taiwan, I’m Here Facebook group says Thai presenter Khun Kratae Thiwaporn spoke to Charlene An via Instagram.
During the conversation, the actress not only insisted the incident with Thai police happened, she also sent Khun Thiwaporn a Google map of exactly where it happened — on Ratchadapisek Road in front of the Chinese Embassy.
She says the road was closed, and police were standing in the middle of it stopping traffic.
Something that should be easy for Thai officials to check as, if the checkpoint existed, hundreds of other people were likely stopped as well.
Interestingly too, on the Nihao Taiwan, I’m Here Facebook page, a majority of Thais commenting about the situation say they believe Charlene An.
After all, if asked, most Thais will confirm corruption within the Thai police has been ongoing for decades and doesn’t seem to have lessened in recent years.
In addition many foreigners, who have also been the subject of extortion by Thai police, have been all over social media for years reporting their stories.
Stories that include extortion by Thai police for much more money than 27,000 baht.