Chawalit Saeng-Uthai told the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association June 13 that both tourists and residents are complaining about supposedly do-gooding volunteers threatening people, shaking down drivers and generally acting rudely.
Banglamung’s district chief Chawalit Saeng-Uthai (3rd left) addresses the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association.
“Unfortunately, these cases are true,” Chawalit said. However, he added, he has imposed strict controls on Banglamung’s 200 volunteers and “if abuse or illegal use of their power is found, there will be serious penalties.”
The district chief explained to business leaders that Banglamung’s volunteers are not the only ones operating in the area. Pattaya has its own squad, leading to confusion among locals about which group is responsible for keeping them under control.
Chawalit said part of the problem can be blamed on the fact that although the Interior Ministry has delineated specific responsibilities for civil-defense volunteers, local police had recruited them to assist in traffic checkpoints and other law enforcement activities, which has resulted in volunteers acting like they have more power than they actually do.
Crimes by supposed social protectors go a long way toward tarnishing Pattaya’s image as a tourist destination, the district chief admitted. Therefore, he said, public and business leaders need to work together to weed out criminals.
Chawalit offered up the idea of “help one another to have confidence in Pattaya” as a campaign to boost the area’s reputation.
“Pattaya still has many problems awaiting resolution,” Chawalit said, pointing to the area’s large, transient population.
“There are a large number of people coming and going. If these people commit crimes, it hurts the area’s image,” he said. “Therefore to stop these crimes from taking place, all sectors must work together to be the eyes and ears for the city. If any offenses are observed, the police should be notified immediately.”