Their arrests came as Maj Gen Choti Chavalviwat, Commander of Phuket Provincial Police, announced an investigation into tour agencies, massage parlous and restaurants, as well as other businesses which are foreign owned or employ many foreign staff.
This was prompted by a protest on Monday in Bang Tao by Thai businesspeople, who said illegal foreign businesses were undercutting the market.
The Department of Labour, in conjunction with Phuket Immigration and the Phuket Police, started checking companies yesterday (January 31) based on random checks or tip-offs from the public.
The main focus will be on businesses that are foreign owned or operated, but Thai businesses that employ large numbers of foreigners will also be checked.
Beginning the crackdown, 12 foreigners were arrested yesterday for either not having a work permit, or doing a different job to what their work permit states.
Many were working in the tour industry as tour guides, taxi drivers or masseurs, police said. Their cases have been referred to the Phuket Provincial Court.
“I understand that foreigners want to work in Phuket, but they have to work correctly,” Gen Choti told The Phuket News.
Gen Choti said the officials were also checking Thai shareholders in foreign-run companies. Thai people listed as shareholders might need to show they genuinely had enough money to have been able to have invested in the company.
“The Bang Tao mob were very angry, and it is their right to be angry,” Gen Choti said.
“Russians coming to travel is fine, but if they take Thai people’s careers and livelihoods by working illegally, that is not fair to the Thai people.
“Foreigners who live and work here have to show us their work permit if we do a check. If they have the correct permit, it is not a problem.”