Are Thai Police Really Corrupt?
You've heard the story of a corrupt police officer in Thailand, taking money for traffic violations other monies from restaurants hotels and pretty much wherever they can get it. But have you actually witnessed any of this?
In every country there is always an ellement of corruption even in western countries. And in a third world country you'd expect there to be more but is it really as rife as everyone says it is.
I know many police in Thailand and I would have to say that the vast majority of Police in Thailand are upstanding members of the force and society, they don't wake up to go to work just so they can scam people out of money they generally want to help sort out problems, may not be the way we do it but they still get the job done.
Little do people know that Thai police are actually paid more than regular thai workers, this can help with corruption a lot, Thai police have to pay for their own guns, motorbikes, gas, even bullets and uniforms, there is little that they don't have to pay for which might be why they get paid more than the regular person. It's very dangerous work too.
I'd like to say that 99% of the Thai police force are respectable and do try their best to fight crime and others, think about what they get paid before you judge them also.
Cmon, u are just staying under the radar here…
They are corrupt to the core!! After 20 years of living there I witnessed it numerous times!!
My experience is that the Thai police are sincere and competent and, as much as possible, honest.
But they are grateful for favors and gifts and publicly accept them, which does not happen in the West.
When they’re paid as well as Western cops they’ll be as honest as Western cops.
In 99% of my experiences with the Royal Thai police force they have been friendly, helpful and enjoy a good laugh, if I’m not wearing my helmet or am riding my chopper which has no book, I pay just like everyone else. Not once have I felt scammed or strong armed, I’ll continue to have a good word and a joke to share with these fellas whenever I deservedly get pulled over. Cheers
i grew up in bangkok for most of my life and in my experience yeah they are very friendly and most of them are not corrupted, but due to low income they are forced to do illegal things likes accuse someone for breaking the law when that person hasnt actually broken the law. I can relate to two situations. i was driving down ratchaphruek road a few weeks back and i police officer pulled me over and told me that he would escort me to the nearest precinct to pay a fine of 5000 baht. when i asked why he said because i changed lanes. when i told him that ive been driving for more than 30 years, he told me i could just pay him 500 baht and he will withdraw the fine. In that situation i was forced to bribe the officer. So yes, sometimes they are corrupted. but that is due to low income. mainly. Another situation i had faced was when i was with a friend visiting the sikh temple in phaurat, bangkok. my friend parked the car on the road and left to buy pineapple. a police officer didn’t realise that i was also in the car and he came in from the back and threw a bag of cocaine. A few mins later he arrested my friend for the consumption of drugs. My friend bribed him by paying him off with 4000 baht. I’m not saying they are all corrupted. but most of them are.
Threw a bag of cocaine? Fuck that im not going. Sorry thailand. See you never.
My wife who I am going through a divorce with! Lied to me many times just to get money! She committed fraud even under Thai Law! Yes, when it comes to money there will do very corrupt things!
OMG – ARE they corrupt? Are we even ASKING this question?
Well, I’ve seen it all.
One example, nearly run over by over-taking tuk tuk, shouted at him to raise awareness of me, before I was squashed on my bike into a very high curb, and he shouted back, stopped me, and wanted to fight.
As I was trying to make clear that he nearly killed me, I received a kick to the head. As a muay thai fighter, it didn’t bother me at all. I simply pushed him and said ‘ let’s go ‘. Then he didn’t want to fight, police turned up, and I was arrested, for 1. Having an accident with a tuk tuk, and 2. Assaulting the tuk tuk driver.
I escaped police custody (scary how easy that was) of these ridiculous charges, but they had my bike and license.
So next day I returned to the station, demanded my bike & license back.
I was offered to pay 28,000 THB, or go to court for the ‘accident’ and ‘assault’.
I screamed bullshit repeatedly, and said if I had an accident, my bike would be damaged, and I would be marked too! “Oh yes, bike damage”, they informed me. Mother F*****s had indeed damaged the bike side panels, but the bar-ends, and foot-rests were undamaged I told them, so it wasn’t possible.
So my options were to go to court, or pay. I said fine, let’s go to court (I knew someone who might help), I’d love to see your witnesses.
Who do you think the ‘witnesses’ were?
Doesn’t sound like I was going to win that one I thought, and so over 20,000 THB was paid, and I was FORCED TO SIGN I had committed the assault, and had an accident. That was worse then the fine.
And there are other examples… much more. The one’s involving the hospital are the lowest in terms of moral so far.
Come on, get your head out of your ****.
My friend is in a coma after being attacked with a metal bar. His attacker was allowed out of jail on ‘bail’ in spite of a criminal history and being a high flight risk. He subsequently disappeared. I have other examples. To call the Thai police amoral is too good a word. But make no mistake, these are Thai citizens, not another race imported to do the job and their behaviour reflects norms within the society in which they operate. Their corruption only stands out because they are the ones supposedly entrusted with enforcing the law of the land.
It’s pretty easy to judge the Thai police and the judicial system but don’t forget it is a third world country! I know plenty of police, some corrupt some arn’t, but when you make 8000 baht a month in a high risk job like they work I bet you wouldn’t be so high and mighty either. Sorry about your friend.
It is NOT a third world country!!
You first have to do something they can catch you for. Then they come with the offer “give me cash and i let you go” they way the money quickly diappear in their pocket without receit makes clear that this is not how it should go. You probably never did anything wrong up to now, where they could pick you for.
The day will come, Chris, when you will regret your foolish naivety in printing this rubbish. 20 years here – the stories I could tell if I could be bothered.
So you think it’s a better idea for me to actually talk about police corruption, honestly John, you’ve been here 20 years, what you think will happen to me if i did that?
I agreed with your comment on the subject 100%. by May 29 2011 He( Chris ) has been living in Thailand for 3-3 1/2 year?? To his credit he has learn to write and speak Thai frueitntly and have manage to do very well with “Thai Girl” from 16 !! – 22.
Have (if) you read all of Topics on his blogs ?? Except ” 41 different Thai personality traits” which he didn’t write them himself but nevertheless agreed with the author 100% ( including me) His message is loud and clear of How/ what he really think of us (Thais )Especially Thai woman. He is highly intelligent and cunning.
My point is.. How ironically/contradictory and naive point of view on this subject is perplexing to me. Doesn’t he know everything about Thailand and It’s people??? But it’s only one man opinion and that is his( right )
Why I think Thai police are corrupt ?? It is because I (Thais ) know that they are! Sadly but where in the world there are free of corruption ??? His ” 99% RESPECTABLE Thai Police Force” is at best FARFETCHED !!
I love Thailand. I love Thai people.. Especially Thai woman:)
My humble opinion…From a Thai Guy
A lot of people have misunderstood this artice and my position is unchanged. The dumbest thing a blogger in thailand could do is to bad mouth the royals or expose police corruption.
Chris, I agree that it would be extremely dangerous for you to detail police corruption publicly in Thailand but I do not understand why you wrote an article minimising the problem. The problem is huge! And it’s the pervasive corruption in the police force that prevents the tackling of corruption in every other aspect of life in Thailand.
Do you really believe that John? I don’t. The ideals of corruption start when you’re young corruption in schools is the biggest problem, typically it’s the acedemics that prevent this problem with protests and shit but how many principals of schools do you know will accept bribes to allow their dimwit kids into the school that they didn’t get the grades to get into the first place. I once lived with the president of a leading university, you wouldn’t believe how many people came and brought money and gifts in exchange of letting their kids into school. If the academics are proponents of corruption how you think the rest of the country is going to fair.
Chris, whilst I do not disagree with your latest reply, I do not understand why you have presented it as a counter-arguement to my statement that “it’s the pervasive corruption in the police force that prevents the tackling of corruption in every other aspect of life in Thailand.”
So, do I really believe what? Do I really believe it’s the pervasive corruption in the police force that prevents the tackling of corruption in every other aspect of life in Thailand? Of course I do…don’t you? The police should be the agents of anti-corruption but are, in fact (and I do mean factually), significant agents of corruption. You have just demonstrated how pervasive it is – to whom therefore can we look to tackle corruption?
So what, like the USA isn’t more corrupt as other western countries. It’s more low level here and for the general public (you and I) I honestly don’t see it as a bad thing. Corruption and scams…yeah scam me all you want, this place rocks just the way it is.
Never read such bullshit in my life
The thai police have absolutely no interest in upholding the law, their only concern is lining their pockets
They are rotten to the core, every last one of them
Every single one?
I agree Dave corrupt to the core
You are absolutely spot on dave
Its all about having and giving some money… I like it….. need to get out of the western box guys….. u wanna live here but have the same BS as ur country? well I suggest go home then and enjoy…..
Chris rocks….. he allows freedom of debate…….
u know Chris could easily set up a website outside of TH and allow all sorts of bad talk about TH… but he like it here as I do….. as many of us do…..
99% of the Thai police without question are all corrupt to the core up till the entire judicial system. So long as you have money you can get away with almost anything. This is speaking from experience.
It’s now 2015 Thai Capital was rocked by a bomb blast in a temple killing about 21 people!
Thai police put out a reward for the capture of the purbetrators.
This news was all over the world!
So what it the Thai police do?
They paid them selves the full reward
And the chief of police paid himself a rise, saying they found the evidence!
You just don’t do that, at all! That is absolutely wrong and sending out the wrong message!
The news papers and public of the world had a good laugh at them for doing this, but it is very serious!
A excuse for corruption at the highest level!
It’s called motivation. If you were paid 10,000 baht a month, would you really care about doing your job so much? This is why when they catch drug dealers etc percentage of the assets are given to the police who caught them. Otherwise you’d just have corruption the other way and the drug dealers would just pay the police because the cops have no real motivation to catch them.
They are certainly corrupt. Where I am in Chiang Mai – they stop foreigners on motorbikes and show them photocopied pages saying “International Driving License” – they catch tourists who are only in town for the day, who hired bikes never being told they needed an International Driving License. These dirty cops try and get 500 bht out of the tourist but will settle for 200 bht if pressed. They don’t give receipts because the money goes straight into their pockets. They set up these checks on roads just outside of town, roads leading to tourist sights where they can catch foreigners. They don’t put theses kinds of blocks in town because they don’t want people to see what they are doing.
They behave like this everywhere.
I have heard stories from 2 different Thai citizens who were struck in their cars by drunk off-duty police officers who were never prosecuted for driving drunk or colliding with another car and never paid the damages they caused to the civilian cars.
Thai people hate them, they are parasites preying on citizens.
Police preying on foreigners was so bad a while back that it was impacting tourism so the government set up the Tourist Police for tourists to appeal to, but it seems the problem is getting bad again because the police have no accountability under the Military Government and can do what they want again.
Let me explain something to you buddy. An international drivers license is only valid IF you also have a letter from the government, it’s also required that you bring the print out of the law (agreement between Thailand and the internatinal community regarding the international drivers license) i’ve never used it because getting a thai drivers license is very simple. Also you should know about the fine, see, the police are legally allowed to keep your bike until the fine is paid, so what do you want to do get a cab to the police station pay the bill and come back or just give the guy the money then. Honestly why would you carry only a photo copy of your drivers license anyway that just doesn’t make sense. I lived in Chiang Mai 6 years and i can tell you for a fact inside the city if you don’t have a drivers license they will keep your bike until you pay the fine UNLESS you have a Thai drivers license which they will take off you give you a reciept and when you pay the bill you get it back. outside the city makes more sense to collect the money there to save you the hassle of going all the way into the city. Check your facts before labeling all police as corrupt. Also what idiot drives a vehicle and doesnt’ know they need a license. Put it this way, if someone sells you a knife, do they need to tell you that you can’t stab people with it.
“An international drivers license is only valid IF you also have a letter from the government, it’s also required that you bring the print out of the law (agreement between Thailand and the internatinal community regarding the international drivers license)” – source please? I’m requesting your source because you are wrong. I lived in Thailand for 20 years and drove 4-6 wheeled vehicles most of that time on a Thai “HGV / 10-wheeler” licence (I didn’t drive motorbikes).
20 years. That would mean your a resident and not a tourist. As a resident you are required to have a local license and the international drivers license is no longer valid. source. Motor Vehicle Act B.E. 2522 translated in english for you here: http://www.motorcycle.in.th/wiki/doku.php/driver_s_license
The international drivers license is basically a translation of your current license into English. Now if you think about it long enough if you hand that thing to a Thai copper who can’t read a lick of English how on earth do you think he is going to know what has been handed to him (hence the accompanying law letter explanation). I’ve studied this in depth and also seen it in action. If you want to use an international drivers license in Thailand and not have any hassles with the police, you take it to the police station and ask for a letter in Thai language to attach to the license that says you can drive and they stamp it. With that letter and the international drivers license no one will have a problem and if anyone says otherwise here I dare them to get video footage as proof otherwise. I would suggest also if you can’t speak Thai to find a police station with someone who can speak english well.
Why would they take your bike at all if as you wrote…you DO have a Thai license??
Yes, of course I was resident, which is indeed why I obtained a Thai driving licence (a normal 4-wheeler before later meeting the requirements for the 10-wheeler version). The international driving licence (which isn’t a licence: it’s actually more properly named an International Driving Permit) is valid for 12 months but, in the case of Thailand, shouldn’t be used if resident more than 3 months. This permit is 100% legal in Thailand for those who are not resident more than 3 months, and certainly does not require any other document other than an actual vehicle licence upon which the permit was issued. As to hassles with the Thai police: as we have discussed on these very pages, one need do nothing wrong to still incur problems with the very corrupt Thai police. I speak Thai, by the way – as you can imagine, that comes in handy when driving an HGV vehicle as a farang in Thailand and being stopped by police who have never seen this and who don’t know their own laws.
John, if you carry your IDP, your countries valid driving license, and the motor act printed out. no one is going to have an issue. You and I have lived here a long time and others should take our advice. If you google this shit there is literally no one saying what I’m saying and that’s why they are having problems. IDP, drivers license, and print out the motor act = no problems. I should proably also add that you should carry your passport with you. If you don’t have your passport with you how would the cop know if your here as a tourist or a resident? Again another ticket for not having your passport. When I hear stories about people getting pinged on shit I start to ask them things about hey did you have your passport with you, your countries drivers license with you, the green book copy, the bike functioning properly? broken lights, broken mirrors, any illegal modifications etc etc
Really my whole point to this was the fact that there is no Thai translation in the damn IDP only English, French, Italian, Swedish, German, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, and Portuguese. Chinese, man it’s not even valid in China, if you were Thai and I handed an IDP never seen one before what would you think? Thai cops yes they are dumb, but it’s honestly not their fault. Hand em the act written in Thai and they will get it otherwise go to the cop shop and get a letter before driving.
Unfckinbelievable……Why a commentary would elicit so many kickbacks in the first place. But I have lived in Thailand for 2 yrs now, and I’ve so far only been haranged by Thai police when in fact I’ve done something wrong.
Contrast this w/ the US, where I have been stopped numerous times for minute vehicle-related junk, and even on SUSPICION of something, even as an upstanding regular dude .
And in Vermont, u sit in the car for 20–25 mins while they flash the lights and not tell u what it is they stop you for…..then finally either let you go or give a ticket ( which stays in the database for years , even for small things ).
Oh, and is a couple thousand baht too much to pay ? Try at home, in Vermont, where the fines can be upwards of 250 USD. I have a very good driv record in vermont , but still it does not take a rocket scientist to determine that 2000–3000 bht is preferable to, say, 200 USD.
So yah……corruption may exist here, but it does in the US, too, and it’s even slicker there, and more expensive as well. I would say it’s time for a few folks to hockey-check their incredibly spoiled notions of what La-La Land is supposed to be like, go HOME and get a taste of how it is there, then come back and see what u have to be ripped about.
But regarding traffic violence : YES, it is bad . Move out, away from BKK, Pattaya area, for a more enjoyable Thai life…..
Stopped in Phuket, Patong to Kalama Beach where my hotel was. I was riding my motorcycle home after a nice dinner date with my female friend. I had 1 beer at dinner. 4 hours later, they were setting up a road block, no lights were up, they were just setting down the cones..I go through it and wave.. They catch me 1 mile ahead and tell me to pull over. Searched for drugs, no problem for I don’t do drugs..then given a breath test. The light turns orange..they tell me I been drinking..
3 hours in their office and 10,000 baht to be let go
Everyone who was in office was offering bribes to be let go.
I offered everything I had in my wallet, 4,000 baht was not enough..
they had me go to hotel and come back with the rest so I could get my license back
Never again will I go to Thailand
It’s a fact of life here.
Nothing the government says in it recent press is going to change the #27 in the world rating.
I have just sat here and watched the bike taxi s cough up to The bike police officer and have it ticked off in the book.
No fine fee.
The other night I sat on Beach Road and saw the local constable at work.
100 bikes pulled over.
93 Farang. Seven Thai.
Seventy nine Farang booking.
Not one Thai.
Including the one with four on a bike and no helmet.
Not one received a recipt.
The two officers were scribbling on the back of a folded newspaper. No receipt see boss.
500 baht a pop.
Not bad for two hours work.
Several friends have bars here and they still contribute 2500 every month to the black book.
A well touted story around town is..
The number one job here.
Chief of the police.
They actually pay 10 million baht for the position.
To be number one and reap all the dividends that goes with it..
I have no reason to doubt it..
You may recently have seen the story of the Swiss guy who lost 10,000 Swiss francs on his way to sort out his wedding to his thai lady.
About 350,000 baht.
After it was found.
(It was seen to be dropped as he got from the taxi)
The two young bike taxis riders picked it up.
Not quite sure what to do with Swiss franks.
Spoke to the mother allegedly, who say it’s the right thing to do business handing it in.
They contacted the local tourist radio station. And they put the message out, if anyone had lost this money..
(They had been seen going into the Swiss embassy, after being seen dropping the money getting fromy the taxi too)
Not to get in the way of a good story.
We all saw the circus act put on tv about it all.
The money was returned.
Less 10,000 baht reward to each of the bike taxi riders.
Less 5,000 baht to the mother of the boys for raising them so well.
Less 10,000 baht to each of the community radio jocks, who reported the story on community news.
Not finished yet..
Later that evening a visit from the boys in the dark uniforms suggesting that the two officers involved, should be compensated too.
10,000 baht each was a nice round figure.
So yes he got the money back, and what great PR for Thai tourism and the people in Bangkok. And the police force.
290,000 baht I suppose is better than nothing…
Have look at Wikipedia and it explains a lot.
Two weeks ago the on the Beach Road in Pattaya the police would walk out and stop all farang scooter traffic, helmet on or not, to check for international drivers licenses. I was there with two friends from Canada. I have a Thai license. They had Canadian licenses for car and permit for scooter with international for car only. They got nailed for the 400 Baht. But….as I stood waiting for them with about 60 – 75 farangs in the police office to pay fines for same, I watched them let Thai after Thai fly by without helmets. They stopped two women and about a 10 year old girl on one scooter out front. No helmets and scooter overloaded with bags filling the scooter. Yep, they probably just said “hi” and were on their way. Three years here has been enough. I’ll retire somewhere else.
Police corruption towards foreigners and expats will destroy the tourism industry that generates huge revenues. Thailand will loose a lot of economic prosperity if the authorities do not put a full stop on police corruption towards tourists or expats. Util then, there are other great countries to visit and spend your money in Asia.
Yes they are currupt. Bribe in dollars is their only law. I will never come back again. And I will inform anyone asking about a trip to Thailand about the unsafety. Choose a better destination in South Asia. No to Thailand.