The crackdowns came after R&B singer Rihanna, in Phuket on Friday night (September 20), caused a media storm when she uploaded a photograph of herself holding a slow loris on Bangla Rd.
The slow loris is an endangered species and it is illegal for anyone to charge money in return for photos with the cute animals. Several touts were arrested in June but despite promises of crackdowns, police say they are unable to track down the touts easily.
Rihanna also tweeted via social networking site Twitter about her experience of a ping pong show.
“Either I was **** wasted last night or I saw a Thai woman pull a live bird, 2 turtles, razors, shoot darts and ping pong, all out of her *****.” Other tweets about the sex show followed, with Rihanna saying she was “traumatised” – though she might have been tweeting tongue-in-cheek.
Officials leapt into action on Saturday night after Rihanna’s Instagram loris photo went viral, with Phuket Governor Maitree Intusut ordering a raid on loris touts. Two out of the dozens operating were arrested – a 20-year-old and a 16-year-old.
Mr Veerawit today described the raids as “just window dressing”.
“I’m bored with saying this again and again: We all know who is being paid. I think after a month, those in authority will stop paying attention, and things will be back the way they always are. I give it one month and everything will just blow over.
“If you want to eliminate all the endangered wildlife and sex shows, you [the police and authorities] must be serious about this. But the police take bribes, even from beggars. ”
“All the business owners in Patong pay [bribes] to the police. You can ask anyone; they will all say the same. The police are transferred in [from another province] and two or three years after that, they are all transferred out again and leave behind the dirt.
“The most important thing is intent – wanting to get rid of illegal things.”
Businesspeople and tourists in Patong have alerted authorities about the illegal wildlife and sex shows many times, but nobody cares, he said.
“When a celebrity posts, it has a wider impact. But when we [locals] report it, they [officials] ignore us.
“In a month, businesspeople in Patong have to pay bribes to police totalling not less than B10 million. You can ask anyone, they can give you names and point out who. The bribes have been paid for a long time. The senior officials – they all know, but they do nothing. So businesspeople have to shoulder the entire burden and keep paying.”
Asked to comment, Pol Col Chiraphat Pohchanaphan, Superintendent of Kathu Police Station, replied, “There are no bribes. The police enforce the laws. We check Patong strictly every day.”
When asked about the current raids on Bangla Road to stamp out loris touts and sex shows, Col Chiraphat said, “We have called for police officers to check this area especially strictly. I have ordered more thorough checking and patrolling to find the sex shows.
“But we haven’t found them. They do it in secret.” Demonstrating an unusual grasp of how ping pong shows work, he explained, “They will have a normal entertainment show, but when the number of customers increases [to a certain point], they change it to a ping pong show.
“We are also working with the DSI to help us, and we are being strict with the checking.”