Author Topic: Tourist from Singapore, stranded in Phuket Thailand over use of Walkie Talkie.  (Read 14512 times)

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ATW

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Hello Everyone,

I am new in here. Just a brief introduction of myself and why am i in here.

I am from Singapore and currently i am being detained in Phuket Thailand, Please allow me to share with you, what actually happened. With a group of friends,that are keen 4x4 drivers, we drove from Singapore, via Malaysia to Phuket Thailand. With the need to communicate in the convoy, we were all using walkie talkies in our cars, as it was expensive to communicate via mobile phones.

All went well when we crossed the international border into Thailand, but my nightmare started when we were driving in Phuket Island on the 1st of December and we were stopped at a routine roadblock at Kamala checkpoint in Phuket. I was detained as i was using a handheld Yaesu FT60 Walkie talkie and i found out at the moment that it was illegal to use this in thailand. Despite my explainations that i was using it for car to car communications and i was unaware that a license was required to bring or use it in thailand, it fell on deaf ears. The Officer asked me for a bribe of 20,000bt to let me go, but i politely explained to him that i didnt have that much cash on me and it was in the hotel room. We couldnt' communicate well and therefore i made a call to the Singapore embassy in Thailand and asked the officer to translate for me.

After passing the phone to the officer and after my embassy has spoken to the thai police officer, i was detained and driven to the police station where i was thrown into the prison lock up for a night. I was susbquently released on bail the next day, when my Singaporean friends bailed me out for a whopping 100,000 bt, the thai cell mate that shared the cell with me, was locked up for possesion of drugs and his bail was only 40,000 bt. I was told to report back on the police station on the 9th of december when my understanding was that i would be sent to the court to face the sentence. but it wasn't the case, i was instead taken to the thai immigration department to extend my passport where i paid 1900bt to extend my passport and had to give 500bt to the policeman as "service charge".

Up to today, i do not know my charge and i was told that i had to remain in thailand and unable to return to thailand for like 1-2months while they investigate and send the walkie talkie for investigations and testing. I have since engaged a lawyer and he is doing all his best to get me home.  right now, i am stranded in phuket thailand and unable to return home because of a possession of a walkie talkie. I do not know how soon i can return home but i really do miss home and just want to get home asap. I might risk losing my job back in Singapore and my finances are drying up even as i stay in Phuket.

This is my 3rd time visiting Phuket, and it is indeed a beautiful country with lovely people,throughout my ordeal. I have met and made new friendships with the thai people.

i am appealing to all in this forum for any form of assistance, advice. It was suppose to be a holiday but it turned into a nightmare. As a tourist, there was no way that i would ever be aware of such "strict" laws governing the use of walkie talkies in thailand.

Best Regards
« Last Edit: December 11, 2010, 04:24:26 PM by ATW »

HS0ZIA

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With the need to communicate in the convoy, we were all using walkie talkies in our cars, as it was expensive to communicate via mobile phones.

Too expensive to communicate via mobile phones = bullshit IMO

After explaining that you ALL had them, why were you the only one nabbed?

You got your visa extended so why can't you leave? Your embassy not helping?

Sorry but this whole story reeks of a scam IMO. You belong in a place like Phuket...

Offline HS0ZFZ

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well as Singaporean you should know to study the laws! - HI!

That could cost you 5 years in Bangkok Hilton (jail) - without any licences! so you found a cheap way out!


I hope this thread will increase the law-abidings of all visitors to beware without any licences DO NOT import any radio equipment!

The laws says even if you own 1m 50 Ohm coaxcable that could cost 5 years Bangkok Hilton!! these are NO jokes!
« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 10:58:53 PM by HS0ZFZ »
HS0ZFZ   - Swen

HS    EME#6
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Offline HS0ZIQ

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Hello,

I know in Singapore you need a license to buy these radios unless for export, same applies in Malaysia.

Sorry to hear the shit you are having, but in Thailand this equipment for some strange reason is seen in a different way maybe they think you guys have been listening in to Police Channels (even that you dont speak Thai) I would suggest next time you buy some red ones, or just use the mobile phones roaming (bridge) has come down a lot is price now.

Hope all is cleared up and you get back to Singapore soon  :), but for sure your Radios will remain in Phuket maybe Police will utilize.






Offline hs0zfe

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Well, so you have yet to see a judge?!? Has a rep from the embassy visited you? Is this really up to the Police to i) set bail and ii) incarcerate people for days without a court's arraignment?  :o

Get a 20 Baht sim card and then it will be as little as xx Satang for half a minute or something. When I was a kid, my father used 2 VHF handhelds. Mom was listening and he would say something now and then at the end of the band.

Hopefully, this will lead to some review of some laws which are clearly outdated.

Where can you access the web? What is the embassy doing?

Chris
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Mobile: 082 5766 516
E-mail: kf6vci@gmail.com

ATW

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Hello guys,
thanks for the replies.

Chris, I haven't seen a judge yet, i was told by the thai police that they needed 1-2 months to inspect the walkie talkie and i would be detained during this duration. I have since engaged a lawyer and i hope that he is able to get me home asap. I am able to access the internet as the guesthouse that i am staying has wifi. I have no idea about it, but i am out on bail for a 100,000bt and my passport has been consificated since day 1.

Would keep you guys updated.

Cheers

Offline hs0zfe

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Well, what does your consular contact person say? Can they get you a new passport, so you can be on your way? If my job was on the line, I would force the issue and demand to see a judge. Walk to the courthouse. There should be a process requiring a REVIEW by a judge within a few days of an arrest. I would even return to jail and force the Police's hand than be in limbo for months.
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Offline hs0zfe

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Offline hs0zfe

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The embassy confirmed the case and said they are working with you.

Any progress? The FT is a commercial mass produced handheld - surely, all it takes is to look up its specs and transmit frequencies?

How are you keeping in touch with friends and family back home? I recommend the Skype World flatrate which lets you call Thai cell phones and landlines and Singapore etc.

From which year are the laws you are charged with?

Good luck!
Chris
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Mobile: 082 5766 516
E-mail: kf6vci@gmail.com

9W2LAI

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Sawasdee:

First of all, I would like to express my sympathy for ordeal suffered by ATW.  Unlike in the United States where its law allows citizens to gain access to many frequencies without licenses, operating and holding a transceiver are offenses in most countries.

I guess the British introduced such laws some 60-70 years ago to restrict the insurgents to communicate with each other during 1950-60s communist era.  Such laws exist until today in South East Asia.

Therefore, our friend could be charged with the following offenses:

1. Illegal possession of radio transmitter and receiver.
2. Importation of radio transmitter and receiver without a permit.
3. Operating on unauthorized frequenci(es).
4. Reckless driving while talking on a radio (similar as talking on a phone while driving).

Fastest way to get out of this case, is to get your diplomat to talk to a Thai minister to let you off.  If you were to be charged, your case is weak as evidence (and witness) are in place.

Even up to the 1980s, candidates who passed the radio amateur exam (RAE) in Malaysia, had to be screened by the police intelligence before a license was issued.  Although such process is not required in Malaysia today, many countries such as China and Singapore are screening radio license applicants still.

Although as a licensed amateur radio operator in Malaysia and Singapore, when approaching road blocks or any government officials, I ALWAYS HIDE MY RADIO.  Eg. when I drive and see a road block ahead, I always tell my fellow hams to QRX (standby), then I put down my potato, and switch off my mobile radio.  I keep my portable handy in my backpack when walking pass enforcement officials too.

I want to avoid and prevent the hassle to explain to the authority about my radio and its license, etc.  Most of them may not understand the telecommunication law, and may drag you to the 'VIP Room' for further questioning, suspecting you are a terrorist or spy.

It is true that purchasing any radio in Malaysia and Singapore requires a local license.  Otherwise, we have to show our foreign passport, which its number will be entered into the invoice.  Such practice is to prove to the regulator that that particular radio was sold as an export, and not for local use.  You may visit radio shops at Sim Lim Tower and Sim Lim Square in Singapore to verify my experience.  The shops don't sell radios to locals unless a license is produced.

There are frequencies gazetted as class license in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.  Such class license of radio communication for public use without a license is called citizen band.  Thailand citizen band radio is in red color as mentioned above, which is on 245 MHz.  Singapore permits 446 MHz.  China allows 409 MHz. Malaysia follows Australia and New Zealand band which is 477 MHz.  In Thailand, it is very easy for the authority to catch you, since your FT-60 is not in red.
Family Radio Service: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_Radio_Service#Thailand

Even though ATW's FT-60 could have tuned to 245 MHz to communicate in your convoy, you could be charged with illegal possession and importation anyway.  Allow me to assume you did not declare your radio when entering Malaysia and Thailand also.  If you notice carefully, customs & quarantine declaration forms for passengers entering China and Australia state a question on radio equipment.  Should you check YES, I am sure you will be inspected.

Strictly speaking, our mobile phones are radio transceivers also.  Same sets of law can be enforced if wished, as told by a regulator when I served as the secretary of national amateur radio society in Malaysia.  But due to widespread use of mobile phones globally, I don't see any country's customs require such declaration from each foreigner crossing the boundary.

Lastly, I wish ATW best of luck to be freed as soon as possible.  Happy New Year!

Lance, 9W2LAI, 9V1LL
« Last Edit: January 01, 2011, 01:47:56 PM by 9W2LAI »

ATW

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Guys,
i am finally home after a long 42 days.
Went to court and was charged with two charges..

1) not paying tax for the walkie talkie.
2) not having a license.

My fine was 18600bt.


Offline e20fwf

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Lucky you, 18,600 Baht is extreamly cheap.
I love Thammasat because Thammasat teaches me to love people.