Thailands ‘Counter’ Culture

Sawasdee took took kon krab,

One of the advantages of being a WIDELY known Thai fanatic is that your friends occasionally send you stuff when they run across anything Thai.

The problem is they never send me anything really cool like some good books on Thailand or Thai music CD’s! In fact next week I turn 42 *gasp, horror* so you most assuredly expect the most I will get for my birthday is dinner at one of my fave Thai resturants. *sigh*

Instead my friends usually send me an interesting e-mail on something about Thailand like this one (I really got to train them better on how to get me stuff haha) and for once this week it’s not more bad news from South Thailand! So enjoy.

Tue Oct 4,12:37 PM ET

BANGKOK, (AFP) – Anything is available in Bangkok for a price: women, men, children, endangered species, drugs, counterfeit drugs, DVDs — and passports, ready in two hours for just 10,000 baht (245 dollars).

Forged travel documents are readily and affordable available on Bangkok
streets, according to one man who sells forged student identity cards
in the city’s bustling tourist district.

And security analysts say that for higher sums, much better
counterfeits can be obtained.

The attention of the world’s intelligence services is again on Thailand
after British police announced they had begun extradition proceedings
for an Algerian man arrested in Bangkok in late August with 180 fake

“Thailand is recognised as a centre for forgery, but false documents
are produced throughout the world, including in Albania, Dubai (and)
Singapore,” Britain’s National Criminal Intelligence Service said in
its latest threat assessment from serious and organized crime.

Between February 2004 and August 2005, some 1,275 counterfeit passports
had been seized and 12 foreigners arrested in separate incidents in
Thailand. Most arrests occurred in Bangkok. In June, a French woman was
arrested on Thailand’s resort island of Samui for selling stolen French
passports on Bangkok streets for 40,000 to 50,000 baht (1,000 to 1,250
dollars) each.

Punishment for possession of a fake Thai passport, by either a vendor
or a customer, is up to 10 years in prison. Possession of a fake passport from another country is punishable by up to five years, and both offenses carry up to a 50,000 baht (about 1,200 dollar) fine.

On Khao San Road, the Thai capital’s heaving backpacker strip, a young
Thai man who sells fake student and press cards claimed he could get a
fake passport for 10,000 baht (about 245 dollars).

“Any,” the short-haired man in a t-shirt said, when asked which
countries he had passports for. He claimed he only needed two hours.

A police officer attached to a Western embassy in Bangkok, who spoke on
condition of anonymity, said the man could be telling the truth, but
cautioned the quality may be poor as a passport needed for international
travel was likely to be more expensive.

“The quality of the documentation depends on how much money an
individual is prepared to pay, but at the high end it is generally considered to be very good,” Rand Corporation’s Chalk said.

“A lot of use is made of genuine passports that are doctored for the
client. Most are either sold by backpackers who have run into financial
difficulties or simply stolen.”

Features that reveal a fake passport include the quality of paper and
ink used, peeling laminate, spelling mistakes or variations in print
details, and missing pages, the Western police officer said.

“You get what you pay for,” the officer added.

If the passport was being used to travel internationally for
immigration, complete with visa seals and biometric data, it would cost “a lot more than 10,000 baht,” the officer said.

Other forms of identification are much cheaper. A man sporting jeans, a
black T-shirt and a short pony tail sells fake student cards on Khao
San Road that sell for 250 baht (6.10 dollars).

He makes the cards in a small shop down a back lane, where he works
beside a large fridge stocked with Thai beer and soft drinks.

Sitting beneath photographs of the Thai king and queen, he taps on a
type writer a customer’s name, university and date of birth, and offered to extend the validity to two years, saying it would not cost extra.

He stuck a photograph onto the card then covered it with a plastic wrap
containing a student organisation’s metallic logo decal.

He handed over a blue plastic bag full of dozens of fake drivers
licenses and identity cards of various quality and organisations including Interpol, the United Nations and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

One read “Interpol department of terrorism” (sic), while the
FBI card included a fake thumb print on the reverse and the words
“licensed to carry fire arm” in red type.

Several drivers licenses were from Malaysia, Singapore, Canadian
provinces and Australian states, but lacked obvious marks of the genuine article.

In a few minutes, the man returned the card and offered discounts for
large quantities and for scuba diving licenses. He said cards were
sealed with a hot iron.

Asked if he could make a fake passport, he shook his head, gripped one
wrist with the other hand like handcuffs, made the noise of handcuffs
snapping shut, and laughed.

All the news that Wit can fit! Plus Thai personal ads 😉

See you next week krab!


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