BURIRAM — A local administrator in Buriram was charged with a criminal offense after he was caught demanding money from residents in exchange for ‘healthy stickers’ that they need to carry, the governor said Monday.
Gov. Thadchakorn Hutthatayakool said that Bunchai Tiangtu, 59, the chief of Moo 12 village in Lahan Sai district charged residents 20 baht each for a “Healthy Buriram” sticker. Per a new regulation, Buriram residents must show the stickers when entering public facilities, and the stickers are supposed to be free of charge.
“But in our widespread success, there has been a local leader…who used their position for personal benefit,” Thadchakorn said. “People who aren’t sympathetic to citizens but kick them when they’re down commit a huge sin. I curse them.”
Local groups alerted police and provincial authorities about Bunchai’s actions. Some of the victims have received their money back, police said. Bunchai has been charged with neglecting public duties, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 20,000 baht.
Starting May 1, all Buriram residents must have the sticker on their ID card or passport when entering shops, markets, and other public venues as proof they do not have, and are not at risk of, COVID-19.
Local officials had been assigned to give out stickers starting Friday. Thatchakorn said at least 100,000 stickers have already been distributed since then. The entire province has around 1.5 million people, according to a 2018 census.
Those who have not travelled outside the province and patients who have recovered from the coronavirus infections are eligible for the stickers.
Anyone returning or entering the province will be required to undergo a quarantine for 14 days before they can receive the blue sticker. Those who elect to travel outside Buriram will also lose the sticker.
“People aren’t working, what money will they have to give you?” Thadchakorn said. “Don’t trample on the citizens’ sufferings.”