Officials go hunting for illegal foreigners, come up empty

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Responding to complaints from Thais that foreigners were stealing all their jobs, Banglamung and Chonburi officials inspected a half-dozen businesses in Pattaya, but ended up arresting only a Thai and three Burmese migrants.

District Chief Chakorn Kanchawattana and officers from Chonburi’s employment and pubic health offices took a team of defense volunteers to locations on Soi 6, Pratamnak Road and Soi Pattaya Park following public complaints that Russians and westerners were running businesses or working illegally.

Defense volunteers inspect goods on sale in a retail shop on Pratumnak Road.

The grievances filed with the Dhamrongtham Center claimed that foreigners were operating companies under a Thai nominee or had no work permits.

In the end, the officials came up nearly empty. They arrested Thai national Paveena Nimwinya, 33, a street vendor who was illegally selling prohibited diet pills and cosmetics. They also grabbed three Burmese migrant workers doing work other than specified in their permits.

Thailand’s slow economy, posting growth of only 0.9 percent in 2015 and projected at less than 3.5 percent this year, has seen the anxiety level among Thais rise, with increased complaints about foreigners – often unfounded – filed with Dhamrongtham centers set up by the junta after 2014’s coup.

By dictate from the military, local officials are obligated to investigate any complaint filed with the agencies.