Littering is against the law and offenders should be punished, but some say the capital city’s inspectors are perhaps a little too vigilant
Many foreign tourists in Bangkok have complained they have been “burned” after being fined for littering by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) inspectors. An investigation by a Spectrum team lasting several weeks has revealed that foreign tourists appear to be the targets of the city’s uniformed inspectors.
Commonly known as the “cigarette police”, the BMA’s inspectors, known in Thai as thetsakij, appear to ignore most of the city’s litterbugs _ a look down any of Bangkok’s main roads will reveal piles of garbage _ and only catch foreign tourists who drop cigarette butts.
Even the Spectrum team was harassed by the thetsakij as they gathered evidence and conducted interviews with people who had been caught and fined for littering.
In fact, the author if this story had a brush with the thetsakij outside Benjasiri Park _ one of the many downtown areas they operate in _ which could only be described as an act of intimidation and harassment.
Dropping a cigarette butt, a bus ticket or anything else on a public street is certainly illegal, but it is not a serious crime. But to police this relatively small crime, the BMA has assigned dozens of uniformed officials to enforce the littering law, especially in the central parts of Bangkok frequented by foreign tourists.