Thailand has never been a so-called “Third World” country, yet wealth isn’t evenly distributed and there’s still a high number of beggars on the streets, especially in Bangkok and major tourist destinations.
Many of the beggars you’ll see in Thailand though are not even Thai nationals but hail from poorer countries in the region and effectively “work for” human trafficking and organized crime groups. In other words: They are getting exploited by their “bosses” and won’t even get to keep the 10 Baht you may give them.
While begging was never strictly legal in the kingdom, the new “Beggars Regulation Act” which comes into force later this week will now officially allow for beggars to get arrested and stuck in jail for a month, while foreigners “caught in the act” will be deported.
According to official statistics, there are currently 4,618 “registered” beggars on the streets of Thailand (we guess these are beggars known to authorities), nearly 40% of whom are foreigners. The vast majority of foreign beggars are reportedly Cambodians at 80%, often women and children.
Starting from July 28 when the new law takes effect, Thai beggars face arrest and a one-month jail term and/or a fine of 10,000 Baht, to be followed (at least that’s the noble plan) by rehabilitation and job training.
Foreigners caught begging on the streets of Thailand will simply get deported to their home countries. Yep, there is even a new 24/7 hotline (1300) that anyone can call who “comes across a beggar [or] a homeless person.”
While it remains unclear to which extent the new law will also apply to homeless people and street performers, at least the latter have been assured that as long as they register themselves their activity will not violate any law.
People exploiting beggars shall also face a three-year prison term and/or a fine of 30,000 Baht. Human traffickers involved in smuggling beggars into the kingdom or forcing immigrants to become beggars may even face a jail term of five years.
Source: Thai PBS