Is Begging Illegal in Thailand or Not?

Homeless Thai beggar in Udon Thani

We actually always thought that begging was illegal in Thailand anyway. So we were surprised to read that the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has only today “approved [a new] law that bans street beggars.”
From the Bangkok Post:

The military-appointed assembly approved the Begging Control Act by 178 votes to two with seven abstentions.
The law forbids all begging and sets out punishments for anyone who forces or supports others to beg or uses others to facilitate their begging. (…)
The regulations will include provisions for assistance to any beggars found to be in violation of the law and rounded up by authorities.

So that’s in cold print and begging is strictly illegal now, or not? Not quite, it seems. Because Thai PBS, just two hours later, also reported that the same body had today approved a “new [the same?] law to regulate begging”:

Under the new law, beggars will have to register at district offices after which they will be issued with ID cards which will enable them to beg legally without threat of arrests.

So street begging is illegal now but beggars can apply for some kind of licence and be issued a special ID card that makes it legal again for them to beg? Sorry but we’re slightly perplexed.

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