CHONBURI — Police have arrested a Cambodian man who was caught on camera bullying a foreign tourist who did not rent his beach chair on the popular island of Koh Lan.
In a video that went viral on the internet last week, the man can be seen berating and kicking sand at a woman while she is sunbathing, apparently chiding her for not renting a beach chair even though she was lying in a public area. The man can also be seen pushing her away from the beach.
On Saturday, police officers on Koh Lan in Chonburi province arrested the man in the video, who was identified as a 28-year-old Cambodian national named Pueng.
According to the suspect, although the video only surfaced on social media last week, the incident took place in October 2013, said Pol.Maj.Gen. Thanet Pinmuang-ngam, acting commander of the Chonburi province police.
Pol.Maj.Gen. Thanet said the suspect, who confessed to committing the crime, has been charged with unlawful compelling, illegal entry into the country, and working without permit.
The suspect’s Thai employer, Charlie Baopimpa, is also under police investigation in connection with the incident, Pol.Maj.Gen. Thanet said.
The ‘eyesore’ of chair-packed beaches and the aggressiveness of beach chair vendors have been common sources of complaint among tourists visiting Thailand in recent years.
After staging a coup on 22 May, Thailand's military rulers have cracked down on beach chair vendors in a number of top tourist destinations, such as Phuket province, in an effort to "reclaim" the public land.
Pol.Maj.Gen. Sanit Mahathaworn, a commander of 2nd Region Police, said he recently convened a meeting with over 100 beach chair business owners on Koh Lan island to inform them of the laws protecting tourists' safety.
"We have to prevent crimes that may happen to tourists in order to retain the good image of Pattaya and other tourist destinations in Thailand," said Pol.Maj.Gen. Sanit, referring to the resort town near Koh Lan.
The officer also dismissed a rumour that the person who uploaded the video will be prosecuted for damaging the image of Koh Lan; Thai authorities have a history of targeting whistle-blowers on the grounds that their actions "damage the reputation" of the country.
"The clip uploader did not do anything wrong," Pol.Maj.Gen. Sanit explained. "In fact, I'd like to thank [that person] for being the eyes and ears of the nation."