Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakpal (holding microphone), deputy commissioner of tourist police, talks to a Chinese man suspected of illegally holding a Thai ID card at a briefing in Samut Prakan on Friday. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

SAMUT PRAKAN: Police have arrested 20 Chinese people for illegally holding Thai identity cards and operating a tour firm, as well as a Thai municipal employee who allegedly made the cards for them.

The arrests followed an investigation into an unusually high number of Chinese people changing their nationality to Thai and seeking house registration at the Lad Luang municipal office in Phra Pradaeng district.

Pilaiporn Puthong, an employee of the municipal office, was arrested on a warrant for illegal ID card production, Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakpal, deputy commissioner of the Tourist Police, said on Friday.

In the same operation, police arrested 15 Chinese men and five Chinese women who illegally held Thai ID cards, he said.

Police suspected Miss Pilaiporn of taking bribes from the Chinese people in exchange for the production of Thai ID cards for them.

Investigators allege that she made Thai ID cards for 29 Chinese people between 2014 and 2017 and demanded 50,000 to 60,000 baht per card.

Working as a tour guide is restricted to Thai nationals under the Foreign Business Act. However, the number of available guides with the requisite language skills is nowhere close to meeting the demand. Many tour operators hire Thai guides but also must provide their own staff to handle translation.

Chinese travellers are expected to account for about 30% of the 35 million foreign tourists visiting the country this year.

News Reporter

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