A Phuket expat, who wanted to be named only as Ryan, posted a video on YouTube last night (December 30), which shows a foreign woman collecting donations from customers at the Swensen’s shop at Kata Beach.
Another Phuket resident took a photograph of a foreign man doing the same thing at a bar/restaurant on Patong Beach around five days ago, and posted it on Facebook.
Speaking with The Phuket News today, Ryan explained how he was inside the ice cream shop last night (December 30) when he saw the foreign girl enter. She was holding a sign, commonly used in Thailand by deaf beggars, saying she was deaf and asking them to buy Angry Birds keychains for B100 – or to make a donation.
“I couldn’t believe a farang was doing this,” Ryan told The Phuket News.
“I was rather shocked. Anyone who has been in Thailand for long will have seen blind people who sing, or deaf people who holding signs [and selling souvenirs]. But this is the first time I’ve seen a young, healthy-looking farang looking for donations.”
He questioned the Swensen’s staff outside the shop and they told him there was a foreign man as well who would come in doing the same.
One staff member told Ryan that she once heard the girl speaking on the phone in a Slavic language.
Another man who did not want to be named said he took a photograph of a foreign man collecting donations at a bar/restaurant on Patong’s Beach Road last week.
The man said he was sitting with friends when the foreigner entered, dropping small cards along with small toys/keychains on the table, before waiting for money. A small Russian flag was printed on the cards. He did not receive any donations.
“The whole situation was kind of rude,” the man told The Phuket News.
“When I took the photo he ran away. As a law-abiding citizen, I don’t think this is a good thing.
“I don’t think he was deaf. I’ve been here 13 years – I think I can tell when a rip-off is happening.
“I’ve never seen a foreigner do that, that’s why I took the photo, because I was a little bit shocked. It surprised me.”
Thai law states that if the foreigners are collecting funds on behalf of a charity, the charity must be a licensed Thai foundation and the foreigner must have a work permit. If they are not with a registered Thai charity then they are begging, which is illegal.
Two police officers at Karon Police Station told The Phuket News they had not received any reports or complaints about cases such as these. Pol Maj Urumporn Koondejsumrit, an inspector with the Tourist Police in Phuket Town, also said he had not received any reports about “deaf” foreigners soliciting donations.