Thai tour guides’ latest complaint over Russian workers falls on deaf ears

Friday, 22 August 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 34 By  Jetsada Homklin

Pattaya police chief brushed away new complaints from Thai tour guides that Russians are stealing their jobs, saying Thai companies should consider Russian-speaking guides helpful, since Thai companies don’t have enough employees speaking their language.

Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho told the Aug. 13 meeting of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association the Pattaya Tour Guides Club has filed a complaint at the district’s new Complaint Center, alleging Russian guides are working illegally, stealing their jobs and may be connected to organized crime.

(L to R) Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho, Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh, and Pol. Col. Supathee Bungkhrong, acting superintendent of Pattaya station address the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association.(L to R) Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho, Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh, and Pol. Col. Supathee Bungkhrong, acting superintendent of Pattaya station address the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association.

Police Chief Col. Supathee Bungkhrong said there was no evidence any Russian guides or companies were tied to criminal gangs. In fact, he said, owners of these companies “consider Pattaya their second home and have invested in the city.”

“Besides, there are not enough Russian-speaking guides at (Pattaya Tour Guides) Club member companies,” Supathee said. “So it’s better if the Thai guides consider the Russians as helping.”

Supathee noted that no charges will be filed against the Russian tour companies and pointed out that, in fact, the owner of the largest Russian tour company is a Thai.

Sakchai added that the club additionally requested immigration officials limit the number of Russians working in Pattaya and stop them from opening kiosks around the city. The association said it needed help because “their jobs have been stolen.”

“It’s still a topic of debate between officers and the guide club,” Sakchai noted.

The tour guide club has been trying since December to use police and immigration to fight its battle against Russian speakers.

The Pattaya tour club filed a complaint with the Department of Special Investigations Dec. 27, claiming foreigners were stealing their jobs and ruining Thailand and its international reputation. The club said members have not only lost jobs to foreigners who speak the same language as the foreign tourists, but that foreigners are misrepresenting Thai history, culture and traditions.

The Burapha Tour Guides Club filed a similar complaint in January.

In a nod to the tour guide group, the DSI launched a raid on Pattaya’s Vitamax mall Dec. 27. The supposed crackdown on sellers of illegally imported food supplements and cosmetics was merely a smokescreen for the targeting of Russian tour guides, as DSI officers arrested 22 at the site, along with four illegal Cambodians.

DSI launched two more raids on Parinya Herbal Products on Soi Nongkrabok and Siam Spa Extra Virgin in South Pattaya Jan. 7 hoping to nab Russian guides, but none were found.

With the head of the DSI and police in Pattaya and Chonburi replaced after the May 22 coup, the tour guides’ case appears to have stalled. The National Council for Peace and Order has made tourism a priority and is bending over backwards to ensure tourism-related companies provide service with a smile.

Supathee’s comments calling the Russians-speaking guides a “help” would seem to reflect the military regime’s view.

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