A leisurely trip to Thailand became a horrific experience for Taiwanese actress Charlene An.
In multiple Instagram Stories (IGS), Charlene claimed she and her friends were detained by Thai police officers and made to pay 27,000 baht (S$1,079) for their freedom.
“Goodbye, rotten Bangkok!” the 32-year-old wrote in one IGS recounting the incident.
She had been travelling in Bangkok with her friends between Dec 29 and Jan 5 when she said they encountered a police checkpoint on Jan 4, at around 1am in the Huai Khwang district of Bangkok near the Chinese embassy.
“They (the police) began by searching our bodies, then our bags, then vehicle… they wanted to find if we had any drugs or illegal items,” Charlene told Taiwanese media in a recent interview. They would also use this moment to check how much money their marks had on them, she added.
When they couldn’t find anything illegal on Charlene and her friends, the police asked to check their visas, she claimed.
She then produced her Visa on Arrival, which she recalled to be legally issued when she touched down in Thailand. However, the officers allegedly insisted that it was lacking certification.
“I was detained at 2.25am… I wanted to secretly record them [and the incident], but was caught and made to delete my footage,” Charlene said on her IGS.
Charlene and her group were also brought to the police station where they attempted to speak to the officers for about two to three hours.
She also wrote on her IGS that she wanted to call for help via her phone during the ordeal, but the police had allegedly told her she could not, lest her charges get increased.
She recounted in the interview: “They demanded an apology from us. We did everything we could to apologise, even saying it in Thai — the only thing we didn’t do was kneel down and beg.
“After I finished apologising, I was still angry… I really felt very helpless and aggrieved.”
The officers then allegedly instructed her to “pay 27,000 baht to be free”, adding that they were “more expensive” officers. They also moved the transaction to an alley to avoid any surveillance cameras, Charlene claimed.
“They then dispatched a cab for us to leave the area,” she told Taiwanese media.
She added: “There were also about five South Korean women who were also stuck in the station alongside us.”
Charlene appeared drunk, Thai police say
Police Colonel Yingyos Suwanno, chief of the station at Huai Khwang, said yesterday (Jan 26) that his station doesn’t usually set up checkpoints where Charlene had indicated.
Police Major General Samroeng Suanthong, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, also responded to Charlene’s accusations yesterday.
They said that they followed proper protocol in conducting a normal search for illicit items at 1am on Jan 4, and that Charlene appeared drunk and did not have a passport on her, the Bangkok Post reported.
There was also a language barrier due to Charlene speaking Mandarin, while the officers spoke English and used gestures.
Suanthong asserted that Charlene told Thai police that someone would come by to deliver her passport, but an hour passed and no one arrived.
Police also allegedly found a vaporiser in her bag, which is an illegal item in Thailand.
They claimed they then let her off with a warning, moving the checkpoint to a different location as per their schedule.
Additionally, the allegations of extortion were also dispelled by Suanthong, who said that local surveillance showed the policemen did not bring anyone into an alleyway to request for bribes.
In response to this, Charlene posted on her Instagram Story again today and wrote: “Wow, that’s not true at all! I didn’t drink at all!
“I’ll speak with international enforcement then explain again, but are the corrupt cops in Thailand trying to use me to wash themselves clean of any dirt because I’ve harmed their interests? What nonsense.”
In following posts, she also challenged the officers to provide footage from surveillance cameras in the area, adding that she can still point out exactly which officer had allegedly taken money from her.
And although she might have had a bad experience in Thailand, she bears no hate for the country itself.
Responding to an apology from a netizen who claims to be Thai, she said: “It’s ok, it’s not your fault. There are still many beautiful things in Thailand.”
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