Begging fast becoming a scourge in Thailand

TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 2024

Ministry unable to end problem of beggars because fine too small compared to money earned from soliciting

Close to 8,000 beggars have been arrested in Thailand over the past decade and nearly 30% of them were foreigners, Social Development and Human Security Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said on Tuesday.

The minister was responding to mounting complaints on social media that there are more beggars on the streets now, especially outside large shopping malls in Bangkok.

Varawut said some 8,000 beggars had been arrested between 2014 and 2024, adding that they always used new methods to tug at the hearts of passersby, like begging with young children or pets. The minister added that beggars caught with children who are not related to them will face criminal charges.

He also said that his ministry was not ignoring the issue, but has been cooperating with police and officials from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to check the streets at least five times a month to crack down on beggars.

Foreigners found begging will be deported, while Thais will be sent to the ministry’s reception homes to undergo career training. If a person is caught begging more than once, then they will face charges, he said.

However, the minister admitted that it was difficult to remove all beggars because the fine against them was meagre compared to what they earned from begging. Varawut said beggars soliciting at spots where there are lots of tourists can earn as much as 100,000 baht per month during high season.

He said the only way to deal with this problem is to stop giving money to the beggars, adding that ministry officials are on standby round the clock to receive complaints.