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Australian Women Arrested In Phuket Over Bar Mat


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Sorry, Bub, in the USA--where I am from--verbal abuse is NOT a crime and is, in fact, called "freedom of speech" and guaranteed by the US Constitution. But, it's obviously a hanging offense in Thailand.

Ahh dude, you are so wrong. "freedom of speech" is one thing, verbally assulting is another. Verbal assault on a police officer can be construted as threatening the officer and, accordingly, the officer can defend his/herself by arresting the offender. They can also charge you for disorderly conduct. Most of the time they will just lecture you and let you go. I know this because I been stopped by the police while driving because an idiot friend of mine while sitting in the back of the car flip off the cop next to us. I was immediatley pulled over and threatened with arrest, and after we apologized and listen to his lecture we were let go. But when you take in account that this lady RAN from the cops for a CRIME comitted and than verbally abusing them, yes she will be frigging charged for that as well.

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I listened to the 3AW radio interview and the accused (or presumed guilty?) Ms Smoel comes across as a reasonable person. There are many conflicting reports (practical joke, rudness...) but being detained in a country -supposedly renowned for hospitality to guests- for rudeness?!?

Yes, I know this is Thailand, but perhaps the Thais should decide if they wish to be known as a progressive, fair minded nation, committed to the rule of law or a corrupt, third world land of injustice.

Sad day for Thai tourisim...

Edited by Lancelot
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I'm sorry, but I find many of attitudes on here puzzling. IMO, it is all just more Thai-bashing from Westerners who feel that all of Thailand should bow and scrape to them.

The woman in question ran from the police during questioning, resisted arrest, and then verbally abused the chief-of-police. In the USA, where I am from, any of these crimes carry serious charges. But in Thailand, where the Westerner is to be worshipped at all cost because all Thais should be whores to the tourist dollar (regardless of their station), the Thais are awful for detaining her while they decide how to handle this case and what charges to press.

In the end, it will probably be a small fine and no jail time just as with the Burroughs case (and in his case he abused and threatened airport security and immigration personnel which would also be a big crime in the US). That is not a big punishment to pay considering the circumstances. The woman from Australia is the one who made a petty problem very serious by her actions. Consider in your home country what would happen if you fled the police, resisted arrest, and verbally abused the cheif-of-police. But in Thailand, tourists should be able to do whatever it is they want according to the reasoning of some.

I DO agree that Thailand has endemic problems with police corruption, and criminal justice can be a twisted thing in LOS. However, in this case, I think the Thai authorities are within their rights. What must the Thais think when they are asked to excuse serious crimes for the sake of sucking up to tourists (and, no, I am not talking about a stolen bar mat)? It perputuates the sterotype many Thais have that all Westerners think Thailand and its people should excuse any behaviour and any crime from tourists and Westerners to save face with Westerners and their media.

Many of us know the worst thing one can ever do in Thailand, especially with authorities, is to raise one's voice, especially if verbal abuse is involved. This is NOT a case about a bar prank or a missing bar mat, and it must infuriate Thais that Westerners and their media want to paint it as such. Now the woman and the media are trying to insult the Thais and the Thai authorites involved by conducting a media campaign that makes Thailand look bad for holding someone in such a case (fleeing a police investigation, abuse of police staff). That is not a winning move on her part as she is now just fanning the flames, making a bad situation worse, and hardening the attitudes of the Thai authorities involved.

And had this happened in a Western country to a Thai person (and Thais who travel to other countries would probably never behave in such a manner) that fled police when being questioned and verbally abused the police and their cheif, would all of us be in an uproar? The woman (and any of us) need to learn that one must respect the laws, the authorities, and the customs in ANY country in which we choose to travel, and that being a Western tourist in a devloping country dependent in part upon tourism and tourist money does not give us the freedom to act in whatever manner we like and to break any laws we wish.

JMHO, and presented as another opinion in the face of all the rampant Thailand-bashing in this thread and the "another-nail-in-the-coffin" crowd who frequent the TV forum.

Very true she would have been charged with resisting arrest/hendering a police investigation. Not with petty theft, maybee the police should charge her with the crime she really did, then this would not have been all over the news that a woman faces 5 years for stealing a towel BG's admit she did not steal.

Had the police arrested her and charged her with the real crimes she did (resisting arrest/hendering a police investigation) this would not be all over the news, causing the huge backlash it is.

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A Melbourne mother is stuck in Thailand charged with theft and facing time in a Phuket jail cell.

Thirty-six-year-old Annice Smoel says: "I get very scared when I see police. I'm just trying to keep it together, so I can get home." Undercover police arrested Smoel in the early morning hours of May 3.

Patong Police claim Smoel stole a bar mat from Phuket's Aussie Bar. Smoel spent the next day in a four-metre-by-four-metre cell with three other women.

Police have confiscated Smoel's passport. Smoel says she is struggling with a severe language barrier and doesn't know what will happen next.

She is facing between two and five years jail - and has not been given any food in the past four days according to her lawyer.

3AW Breakfast is speaking to Smoel, her husband and lawyer now.

according to the news report she was very abusive and ran from the police,,in the usa she would be in trouble just for that and why not?

truly bad folk with warrants run like that ,why shouldnt the thai police deal with it the way they are then?

Perhaps she is just a dummy for running but police gotta deal with allota stuff and get killed all the time in usa by runners,good for them,im tired of drunks running and fking with the thai police like they are monkeys and giving decent farangs a bad name and making it harder for us expats all the time and they go home and laugh about it,,if she had been decent to them like you should be to polite police,which it sounds like they were,there would not be a problem now,,,

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Sorry, Bub, in the USA--where I am from--verbal abuse is NOT a crime and is, in fact, called "freedom of speech" and guaranteed by the US Constitution. But, it's obviously a hanging offense in Thailand.

i'm sure verbal abuse is called common assault,which is a crime!

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"The bar owner has said on radio that his bar staff saw others put the towel in the bag."

... Any ideas why nothing was reported to the undercover police, or why the bag stuffers were not confronted at that point in time?

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chlear909

giving decent farangs a bad name

There is absolutely nothing decent about you or any of the other Farang's on here that continue to judge this woman, calling her a 'bitch', gloating in her suffering, when nobody is in possession of the facts. Even the quote from the bar owner says he suspected she was being abusive to the police. Well that is not good enough. He pays the police enough money every month to find out EXACTLY why she is being charged and why subsequently his bar will resemble something out of an old cowboy movie with creaking doors and full of tumbleweed and empty.

Edited by Tigs
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If she behaved anything like the Aussie tourists behave in Bali,i have little sympathy for her.It's always the badly behaved minority that tarnish the reputation of the well behaved majority.A little respect and civility even when drunk goes a long way.

I'm sure the Thais have good reason to do what they have done and would not be stupid enough to bring this un-wanted attention if it were not justified.

Of course the Western media want to play the mis-treated hard done by tourist story as it makes for a more sensational report and we all know this is how the media works.

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I have cleaned out a large number of posts which were off-topic, or offensive, or flames. Let's stick to the topic, with some civility, and stop prejudging this women and/or the bar owner. Thank you.

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"The owner of the Aussie Bar, Steve Wood, told 3AW that he believed Ms Smoel had been abusive toward the undercover police who had stopped her in the bar. "When they talked to her all they wanted to do was chastise her, and they usually let you go, but she did a runner on them ... the police had to chase her down the beach,'' Mr Wood said. "When they took her back to the police station, she continued to abuse everyone at the police station including the chief of police and I think this is what the problem is. It's more of an attitude problem than a crime problem.''

this is stupid, the mat is the bars, undercover police ??? what the heck ...if you want to rag on people forget thai people rag on the bag of crap that owns this bar. why on earth would " under cover police " be working beer mat duty in this clown boys bar? burn the bar owner with all these boo hoos and let the sow learn a lesson in manners as well. yelling running? over a bar mat... shame on her .. then shame on the owner for letting this happen in his bar in the first place.

Edited by LivinginKata
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I have met Steve several times and he is a good bloke. The bar is popular and Steve is a good host . He is always polite , friendly and generous and the kind of guy who would be annoyed by someone removing his property but would not press charges. He does often have off duty police drink there as some of them work security after hours. He does not have a beard or a mustache ( unless he has grown one since last Aug ) .

I believe as others have said if this woman had of been polite and remorseful and courteous with the police, this would have gone a completely other way. But the problem to me does seem to be an " attitude " one. And attitude counts for a hel_l of a lot when dealing with Thai Officials.....it doesn't seem fair and its hard to comprehend but it is the way of Thailand and unfortunately many travelers to LoS dont understand and think their western right to object and demand their rights is valid everywhere.

She must so confused and scared,...it would be great if she could just apologise to all concerned , pay a fine and go home , but alas she may have offended just one too many officials.....Good luck to her.

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Not too long after i first moved here, I had a cop stop me for some meaningless offence and i got mad.

Luckily my wife was with me and grabbed me hard and said very forcibly to me: Don't you raise your voice to a policman here in Thailand, You are not at home. THEY WILL put you in jail for it.

I learned then and there to be respectful even when (often enough) they are in the wrong.

Western rules don't always apply here in Thailand. We are guests and even though we find so much wrong with the country (mainly the police and the tuk tuk drivers for me), we still are guests and choose to be. We have to act our part too.

I don't see how you can blame the bar owner in this case except if you want to charge him for having undercover security watching his bar mats or whatever they are in the first place.

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I listened to the 3AW radio interview and the accused (or presumed guilty?) Ms Smoel comes across as a reasonable person. There are many conflicting reports (practical joke, rudness...) but being detained in a country -supposedly renowned for hospitality to guests- for rudeness?!?

Yes, I know this is Thailand, but perhaps the Thais should decide if they wish to be known as a progressive, fair minded nation, committed to the rule of law or a corrupt, third world land of injustice.

Sad day for Thai tourisim...

I would welcome seeing rudeness treated as a crime. Since living in Thailand I have witnesses displays of the most abhorrent rudeness on a weekly, if not daily basis. Spent some time in the Immigration office recently and watched a stream of farang insulting the staff, either with cold sarcasm or angry agression, same in the British consulate. It might be understandable in such places where emotions run high.....but it's the same in Big C, the tyre shop, the Zoo, and on our MooBaan. In all of the cases mentioned, the person concerned has received a polite, smiling response, which seems to inflame them even more.

Like a previous post author, I too find Thai bashing objectionable and unnecessary. Thai people value courtesy, containment, and jai yen (I think...I'm a slow learner!).....they don't allow themselves or their children to indulge in outbursts, displays

of anger..or rudeness......or anything which makes others lose face or feel uncomfortable.......why should they have to accept it from visitors to their country?

"A sad day for Thai tourism"?? I beg to differ.....that day came a long time ago and is repeated everytime a tourist feels that by buying a plane ticket and a hotel room, they have also bought the right to treat Thai nationals as their servants.....stone deaf and stupid ones at that.

I do not look at Thailand with rose coloured spectacles....but if I wanted to live in a place where public rudeness, screaming abuse, sarcasm and getting blind drunk and creating disturbances were part of an average day......I would have stayed at home.

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Sorry, Bub, in the USA--where I am from--verbal abuse is NOT a crime and is, in fact, called "freedom of speech" and guaranteed by the US Constitution. But, it's obviously a hanging offense in Thailand.

i'm sure verbal abuse is called common assault,which is a crime!

in the usa were i am rom also ,, verbal abuse and running get you in deep and it should,cops get hurt all the time by people like that,they arnt the bad guys they used to be ,alot are young guys with families workin hard and deserve to be treated better than some punks get away with

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I think we need to get real here, just because they wear uniforms and are called police doesnt mean that they are anything like the police in the west. Their main job is tax collecting/mafia. They will get involved in normal police activities if you go to the station and pay them enough to take a break from their tax collecting activities. And its not a Thai/Farang issue either, the Thais detest and avoid them as well.

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Firstly I would like to say that this woman has obviously made her own situation worse - not by misbehaving in the bar, but by having a big attitude when caught out, doing a runner and showing disrespect to a senior officer in front of his minions. All three serious no-nos here.

Secondly I would like to say that there are so many different angles to this story that I even find a little sympathy for her;

My point here is that the police are naturally prejudiced against certain nationalities and their character traits; the 'bust' is only a test: if you accept that you are done and eat some humble pie (maybe pay a token 'fine') you will most likely walk away and even have fond memories of the nabbing - but act like drunken scum and you are likely to get the harshest treatment they can get away with. The coaster is of little consequence - she made it personal.

In this incident the fact she is farang perhaps even saved her from physical harm. Thai prisons are filled with Asian people who suffer far more injustices and their governments don't care one bit. Many don't even make it to prison...

Come on Thailand, this is 2009 - surely by now there are laid down procedures for handling ill-mannered ....? A hefty (official) fine and deportation within 24hrs would have resolved this matter easily. Shave her head to check for lice just for fun :)

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Personnally my biggest problem with this thread is the number of idiots who post without reading the facts of what happened.

The bar owner was not there at the time of the incident.

The bar owner did not press charges, the police have.

The woman is 36 (not 60 as someone wrote)....

I could go on but I am bored already and wondering why I even bothered.

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Ms Smoel comes across as a reasonable person.

of course she does. what does that tell about what she did and how she talked to the police?

True, we do not yet know the true story.

My point is that if she comes across as a reasonable person, readers, listeners, viewers will tend to be sympathetic and be more favorable to her than the Thai authorities. Its usually best to pick your battles and detaining a well spoken mother of four seems to be a little over the top.

I don't think the thais woke up that day and decided "Hey lets have some fun and lets jail an Aussie mom!" but the press seems to be going in her favor and against the Thais. Usually its a foreign man that is detained for petty reasons but now the Thais are jailing women as well. This does not look good for Thailand's image as a friendly "Land of Smiles", a nation that earns +6% of GDP from tourism and wants to be known as a "family" destination.

Anyway, the Thais need to implement some damage control and realize how negatively stories like this are viewed abroad.

Just my 2 satang :)

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I think we need to get real here, just because they wear uniforms and are called police doesnt mean that they are anything like the police in the west. Their main job is tax collecting/mafia. They will get involved in normal police activities if you go to the station and pay them enough to take a break from their tax collecting activities. And its not a Thai/Farang issue either, the Thais detest and avoid them as well.

what you say is half true, but half isnt enough

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Correct me if I'm wrong but she was charged with theft of a bar mat, NOT with resisting arrest, threatening officers etc.

So all this talk of she got what she is deserved is based on conjecture and rumour (mainly it seems from the aggrieved bar owner,) and NOT the charges laid. Best to stick to the facts.

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Several accounts of this incident i have read on the net are stating the lady attempted first to flee the scene, and then was extremely abusive to police offers. Anybody with any understanding of the Thai culture would know they are big mistakes and have massively escalated this situation.

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Correct me if I'm wrong but she was charged with theft of a bar mat, NOT with resisting arrest, threatening officers etc.

you are wrong, because we don't know what she was charged with. just the mainstream dumbass media tells the story this way.

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Correct me if I'm wrong but she was charged with theft of a bar mat, NOT with resisting arrest, threatening officers etc.

So all this talk of she got what she is deserved is based on conjecture and rumour (mainly it seems from the aggrieved bar owner,) and NOT the charges laid. Best to stick to the facts.

is that newspaper report wrong about the running,?it could be?,,its in a few of them tho..

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So all this talk of she got what she is deserved is based on conjecture and rumour (mainly it seems from the aggrieved bar owner,) and NOT the charges laid. Best to stick to the facts.

More conjecture only this time aimed at the barowner i would suggest. " Lets just stick to the facts ".

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What? Go back and also be jailed in a filthy cell for owning up to a prank about a bar mat that the bars get for free anyway off of the beer companies?

They ar enot free in Thailand - all promotional or branding material of other than a paper window/wall poster type, has to be bought from either the distributors or the manufacturers - particularly if the bar is known to be farang owned.

.... at least, that's how it works in Chiangmai - might be different on Phuket.

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Fellows, The bar owner is NOT pressing charges. Here is part of the article:

But the owner of the Aussie Bar, Steve Wood, told 3AW that he believed Ms Smoel had been abusive toward the undercover police who had stopped her in the bar.

“When they talked to her all they wanted to do was chastise her, and they usually let you go, but she did a runner on them ... the police had to chase her down the beach,'' Mr Wood said.

“When they took her back to the police station, she continued to abuse everyone at the police station including the chief of police and I think this is what the problem is.

“It's more of an attitude problem than a crime problem.''

She was charged with a “night-time theft'' and imprisoned for four days.

Mr Wood said he had not pressed charges.

Her disrespectful behavior is the reason she is being held. Aussies and others can boycott if they want, but I applaud the Thai Police for teaching this ........ a lesson. Behave yourself and you will be treated as an a welcome guest. :)

yeah right, it's your vacation, you sit in a bar,drinking eating,dancing,then suddenly some bimbo comes to you and ask you to open your bag,first thing you would probably ignore him,2nd you would tell him to leave you alone and leave,she probably did the same, but they followed her and told her she stole something,now imagine you are drunk and didnt steal anything,then of course you will change ur behaviour and complain,specially if you had some drinks,and if they not stop probably use bad language,on top one of her friends went to police station and told them she put the mat into her friends bag as joke,but totally ignored by police,in a normal country police would say sorry and probably tourism minister would invite miss Annice for free flights or free hotels,but thai one way thinking and stupd losing face culture is just amazing

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