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The Issue of "Begpackers" in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

The Issue of "Begpackers" in Thailand 

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing so called "beg packing" or "Beg Packers" here in Thailand. 

The thing about this issue is it has come up in multiple different contexts in the past couple of weeks and I recently saw an article about it in Khaosod English and I have had friends ask me about this offhand, unprompted and I have also had a couple of clients that asked me about it in light of other Immigration things. It has just come up in conversation over the past few weeks and it is sort of always my opinion that coincidence is God winking at you so I figured I would go ahead and make a video on this topic because people tend to not really understand what is going on with this "beg packing" as it is called; it is quite controversial. There are people that really have a massive problem with it. There are other people that are just as adamant that there is nothing wrong with it and it should almost be sort of encouraged. My personal opinion is I think it is rather odd to come to a foreign country, to be a guest in a foreign country and start begging in that foreign country, especially where you have folks that are coming from Western countries doing that in countries that are in the more developing world.

That being said, to each their own. I am not particularly making this video to make judgments. I am more interested in discussing the legal aspects of it with respect to so-called "beg-packers" here in Thailand because those who get caught "beg-packing" or those who are subject to police scrutiny while undertaking such activity could have some serious problems here in the Kingdom of Thailand. 

In a recent article from Khaosod English, that is khaosodenglish.com, the article is titled: 2 in 5 Thais Accept Beg Packers Survey Says. Quoting directly, "Despite widespread online outrage against tourists busking on the streets of Asia, a survey has found that nearly half of Thais have a "sabai sabai" impression of beg-packers." That is sort of a "live-and-let-live", "whatever" sort of impression of beg-packers. Quoting further, “However, "beg-packers" who often try to engage in novel forms of begging such street performances, selling goods or offering hugs (that actually occurred.  There was a case involving that in the past), are not necessarily more successful at getting donations."  Quoting further, and this is quoting from a city compliance officer, a so-called Tessakij Officer which is somewhat unique to Thailand. The "Tessakij", I would liken it to sort of the Metro Police or the Subway Police for example in a city like New York. They have a specific remit. It is my understanding they don't have arrest powers per se, but their job is to sort of monitor the public commons of the city and you know maintain working thoroughfares, allow people to get through etc.  I think they are a rather necessary component of Bangkok because it can be such a congested city in places but that being said, moving forward, this Tessakij Officer who apparently did not want to be named was quoted as saying:  "Actually it is against the law to beg on the streets but I don't want to catch them as I feel pity and want to give them a chance." So rather than turn them into the proper authorities or make a report against them, he just turns a blind eye.  I urge those who are interested in this topic to read this article again. It is: 2 in 5 Thais Accept "Beg-packers" Survey Says and that is khaosodenglish.com.

My comment on this is purely from a legal standpoint. Those who are looking to come to Thailand and engage in this activity should be very, very cautious. This could be construed as not only working illegally in Thailand, but also could be construed as being a direct violation of one's immigration status here in the Kingdom. Moreover it could be a violation of various criminal ordinances; things like loitering, vagrancy etc , and a foreigner that is in Thailand doesn't really want to get arrested under any circumstances but also foreigners after they are processed, and sometimes processing can take the length of their visa, for example these folks coming in may come in on a 30 day stamp. It may take a couple of weeks to process them; they may have already been in Thailand a couple of weeks, and so when they are processed out there no longer in Visa status. That means remand over to the Immigration Detention Center for further processing and deportation and if somebody has no money, then they could be stuck in the Immigration Detention Center for a fairly prolonged period of time because immigration detention has to make arrangements for their onward travel and they may have to do a certain amount of time in order to make up for the fine associated with their overstay.  So I really would urge those watching this video, if you are thinking of coming to Thailand and being a "beg-packer", that are multiple different legal reasons for not doing so that could result in not only arrest but prolonged detention and that is just simply not a place you really want to put yourself in when thinking about going to a foreign country.