Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Hotel guest in Thailand jailed for defamation after posting bad online reviews (loyaltylobby.com)
366 points by prostoalex 32 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 270 comments

The part near the end of the article is confusing.

>While this reaction by the hotel does sound excessive I’d give them the benefit of the doubt that this guest behaved like a total idiot while at the property and then turned around with very unflattering descriptions and manufactured truths aka lies about this resort. He then refused to discuss the matter with the hotel and instead of stopping even accelerated his online badmouthing on channels other than TripAdvisor after the first bad review was “managed” away (deleted).

>These little islands in Thailand are well known to be essentially run by the local mafia and a lot of people have met their fate at these islands after run in with the locals. In 2014 a British couple was killed on Koh Tao and the crime was later pinned on some illiterate Burmese migrant workers. The two Burmese were initially sentenced to death and just received a Royal pardon, reducing the sentence to life imprisonment.

>I’m just noting this in the context of the situation at hand to show that one should consider his behavior and own security while on these islands.

He's giving the hotel the benefit of the doubt that it's the guest's fault, but also brings up that the islands are run by the mafia and has a corrupt justice system. What's he trying to say? That even if you're right, you shouldn't write a bad review because the justice system is corrupt and you're going to end up in jail anyways?

FWIW Koh Tao was the worst place I had the displeasure to stay at in Thailand. The taxi basically dumped us in the middle of the jungle because he got pissed off he couldn’t find our hotel and threatened us with baseball bats when we didn’t want to get off. I thought they were leaving us there for their accomplices to mug us. We reported it to a police station that we found on our long walk back where all the cops were dozing off and took no notes of what we were saying. We left that island the next day, it was the lowest point of our trip and a big contrast with everywhere else where people were very nice. Never setting foot on that island again.

To offer a counterpoint, my worst experience in 2 weeks through Thailand was with a hostel run by British expats.

The description of the room was completely different from the room, extremely hot and humid even by Thailand standards, the windows wouldn't lock and could be opened from the balcony (accessible from other rooms), and the room just had bedding: no wardrobe, no drawers, no hangers, nothing (the pictures showed rooms with some basic amenities). On top it wasn't cheap either.

When we raised the concerns, the manager was both extremely drunk and non cooperative, which awarded shitty reviews. We didn't even spend there the night and took the last minute cancellation fee as a loss. They replied with made up stuff about us being violent and threatening.

Despite that, the place had (and still has) raging reviews from bogans, as it has a bar with plenty of beer variety on the ground floor running basically 24/7.

Interesting - I also traveled around Thailand and had basically only good experiences in Koh Tao (the diving there is gorgeous), but a number of bad experiences mainly around Bangkok and Chiangmai (never setting foot there again! :) ). Specific events definitely color our impressions of places!

What happened? I’m convinced my girlfriend almost got abducted at the airport by w fake cab.

In Bangkok it was mainly tuk-tuks taking me to places I didn't want to go and many attempted scams (magicians, dealers in jewels, someone pretending to be police). In Chiangmai I had my worst couchsurfing experience, really unpleasant guy who I went to town with and was dependent on (he took me half an hour or so on the back of his motorcycle) and who got really drunk after I asked him to please stop drinking (because of the ride). He told me not to worry because "if we die we die together" and a couple of times gave the impression of trying to leave without me. Then I ended up in another hotel which turned out to be above a brothel and to have used condoms in the room, but couldn't really leave because I had gotten food poisoning.

I also met some really nice people in Thailand, but I do feel it has been a bit ruined by the wrong kind of tourism.

Honest question.. why do you go to countries like these ? To me it looks like the risk is not worth at all.. Is being in danger part of the attraction or people really underestimate the dangers of third world countries ?

Thailand is actually quite safe. You are going to find a few horror stories but generally, as long as you stay away from the most common scams (which you can find in all travel guides), you will not be more at risk than in first world countries.

One reason Thailand is safer than most "third world" countries is that tourism is taken very seriously by the government. Most notably, they have a "tourist police" that can be called if you run into trouble.

Also note that most "scams" are just overpricing. Sure, it sucks paying 5 times the local price, but when it is 10 times more expensive in your home country, it is not really a big deal.

Got stuck in a common scam, realizes in the middle of it that I was in a scam with my partner. Mistake to tell my partner that we were being scammed. Partner got depressed, wanted to go home. 3 weeks of sad vacation, have never been more happy to be back from vacation than from that one. Could not "forget" the scam, everything afterwards in vacation circled around the scam. Worth to mention is that my partner was bi-polar so an easy target/never been in a organized scam before that everyone you meet for a coupe of hours are part of it. Probably at-least 20-30 people involved. I guess it could be similar to "The Truman show?"

One year later still feeling sad for not able to protect us from it. Have become extremely suspicious of helpful people/sellers. Had issues with buying stuff since the trip. Not the price/money that is/has been the issue. I wished I never visited Bangkok.

Similar as this one, but for suits instead. (Did not plan to buy it, in fact earlier that day I wonder why/laugh at people that did it, just a few hours later I was one of them. Now I understand them an why it works and will continue to work for 20 more years) https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/asia-thailand/...

TLDR; Thailand suppose to be me an my partners dream trip. Was our worst trip, lead to us splitting up and started to have trust issue. Feeling depressed about it, still sad about it one year later.

It sounds like any bad experience during any type of trip would have depressed you though (don't do drugs!)

Apart from the couchsurfing experience none of it was really dangerous, just really annoying.

My reason for going to Thailand was that I had an internship in Australia (I'm from the Netherlands) and I was going to change planes there anyway, so I figured I might as well spend a month in the area. While I didn't like the cities, there were many other nice and beautiful places.

People have different levels of risk tolerance and different interests. I have traveled in a number of poor or somewhat conflicted countries and while it's definitely not always enjoyable, I don't think everything in life is about enjoyment and they were really valuable experiences that shaped my view on the world in other ways. (Not to sound like a disaster tourist - in all cases I was either passing through or working in the area, it's not like I went to watch poverty or conflict.)

It's beautiful, it's cheap such that you can afford a level of luxury you couldn't in the west, and sure the level of petty crime is higher than the west but it's still at beginner-to-intermediate levels of streetwiseness required.

Tourism is huge in Thailand, so presumably it's not like people get mugged left and right. However, ‘tourist places’ anywhere do attract lots of pushy folks doing riskless swindles on easy targets who lose self-control right after landing.

It pays to know what you want, to have a permanent bitch-face and a habit of saying no to everything else.

Wow, it looks like you probably haven't been around these places in the world, so let me tell you that while we like to discuss about bad experiences, these places are 100x safer and more enjoyable than the US, which is why we travel there in the first place :)

Well for one Thailand has a lot of amazing attractions. Beautiful nature, really really good food for cheap, fun nightlife. Sure you get the odd scam or unpleasantness, but it can become a funny story.

I had two run un with tugs on New York city. Family got robbed on Orlando, friends on San Francisco. My wife got scammed at London airport by the officers there.

I’ve had zero run-ins with thugs in NYC in my entire life. What the hell were you doing?

Getting directions at Port authority

police harassed me and my friends twice in NYC, never had any trouble like that in Asia or Europe.

Helps having someone to guide you.

You will know what to avoid and what to expect

Tuk tuks are always bad deal/tourist attraction, make sure Taxis use meter, don't take any of their suggestions (girls, jewelery, etc) or accept detours

To be safe, use Grab application, - no wasting time trying to speak to the driver asking where you want to go, - no tips (from rounding up the payment), - no taking you places you don't want to go.

>What's he trying to say? That even if you're right, you shouldn't write a bad review because the justice system is corrupt and you're going to end up in jail anyways?

Yes, even if you're right, you shouldn't write a bad review because the justice system is corrupt.

Just wait until you're home to write the review

The hotel guest works as a teacher in Thailand.

Then his freedom and his livelihood suggests he should maintain a low profile. Right or wrong, he's not in America, and shouldn't behave as though he is.

Make it anonymous.

Kinda hard to do, if you complain about unique circumstances at a specific location

You at least will have some leverage and the ability to deny

The screenshots that the hotel provided show that he made multiple Google accounts with his real name to repost the review.

Perhaps this is an effect of a new rise in "local tourism" necessitated by Covid-19. Locals reviewing tourism industry businesses instead of international tourists.

And don't go back

yeah, at the very least you won't get spit in your food

Wrong. There may be corruption in every country but you can have a just and fair trial in Thailand.

The article is mixing issues unrelated to the case here

For anyone looking to dig deeper into the allegations of corruption on the islands and how it may have contributed to the murder of the couple in 2014, this is a good place to start:


Sounds like a good reason to never go there as a tourist, actually.

And no, that is clearly not what they’re trying to communicate (although the actual goal remains unclear). If the premise was “don’t write a review, they’re corrupt and will spuriously jail you”, then they wouldn’t offer the hotel chain the benefit of the doubt.

One of the most visited countries in the world. We are all well aware of the reputation they have for sex tourism so anyone going there really needs to embrace the idea that Thailand isn’t quite the same as a typical western country.

I have no great interest in going (I live in Taiwan and the average review I hear for a family vacation isn’t very flattering) but if I were I would be really careful. Most people woefully lack an underground/crime IQ and don’t know how to act in certain situations, often refuse to listen to reason.

I used to work as a bouncer for years after I got sick of corporate work and every once in a while some jackass or Karen would work up the nerve to get weird with the HA guys wearing their vests or getting snarky about calling cops on local dealers who are actually not working per se but trying to unwind with a drink. Honestly, some people get it in their head that they are untouchable because they are “good people” and the cops will protect them. Most people aren’t stupid like this so going on vacation to Thailand has a 99.99% likelihood of being ok.

Like think of someone who is warned about being careful in Mexico and then they petulantly do exactly the opposite. I’m sure Thailand attracts tons of idiots.

> Most people aren’t stupid like this so going on vacation to Thailand has a 99.99% likelihood of being ok.

You don’t need to be an idiot for you trip to go bad. I used a local transportation. When getting off a Chinese tourist had lost is wallet in it. A local just took it for himself while the tourist was still in sight. The scene went too fast for me to do anything but I felt bad for the guy who will likely get charged on credit card, lost all his cash and probably ID too.

Not being an idiot in the context of traveling to developing country means a) not carrying too much cash b) not having all credit cards in the same wallet c) not having IDs in the same wallet as the above and finally knowing your credit card numbers (or have a record of it) so that you can quickly call and cancel them.

It sucks that it happens but if you take proper precaution it shouldn't ruin the vacation besides a slight annoyance...

It's also bad luck, as a counterpoint, I forgot my bag with my computer at a restaurant in Bangkok, I noticed 30 minutes later, came back and the restaurant staff had kept it for me.

You absolutely did the right thing by keeping quiet. If you don’t speak Chinese (or any local language) it is so easy to be taken advantage of. There is no guarantee, but what if you grabbed the guy and wrestled with him, trying to get the wallet off him when suddenly the thief yells to the crowd “Help! This foreigner is stealing someone’s wallet and is trying to kill me!” Then a cop shows up who doesn’t like foreigners and it could be all over. The culture in China is different, very possible that someone could have seen that you are innocent but stayed quiet, avoid the trouble plus who knows, maybe he really did steal that wallet. I’ll go home to my family and the courts can decide if he’s guilty. Like things probably wouldn’t play out that way, Chinese (and Taiwanese, Cantonese) people are incredibly decent and well to do but the perfect storm of a misunderstanding could easily turn on you.

I get that some people are entitled idiots who seem completely incapable of thinking through the consequences of their actions, but I’ve never heard Thailand described in a way that sounds terribly interesting to me as a vacation spot.

Then again, I typically describe any place with more than a few dozen people as overly crowded for the purposes of vacationing, so maybe I’m not the right person to ask.

Bangkok is arguably the foodiest city in the world, and has the best contemporary art scene in South-East Asia.

Just to name a couple things I find interesting there; your interests presumably differ.

Bangkok also feels like a real life Gotham city. They have this elevated train line running between fancy shopping centers, high rise luxury apartments and office buildings. But just below it there is miles and miles of street prostitution and poverty.

I've been to Thailand before. It's really great. Everyone is friendly and calmed down. For instance, the cars in Bangkok hardly honk, even if the traffic is bad. So you can feel like you're on vacation even in the urban areas.

The defamation laws in Thailand are pretty terrible. For starters, they have both civil and criminal defamation statutes (and criminal defamation statutes are already pretty bad). The thing that makes it really bad though, is that truth is not always a defence for criminal defamation offences. The law is something to the effect of "disclosing private matters can be defamation even if it's true".

I've read a few of articles on this case now, and none of them really seem to grasp how this law work. They say he lives in Thailand though, so he really should know better. It's up there with "never say bad things about the king" in regards to things every expat living in Thailand should know.

The law is something to the effect of "disclosing private matters can be defamation even if it's true".

That's common in many countries. "It's true" is only a valid defense if you're accusing someone of a crime.

Is it true in any first world countries? As far as I am aware publishing anything that is true is always fair game. The very definition of libel (and slander) is that something untrue has been published or said. I’m not aware of a first world/non-dictatorship that treats either libel or slander as a crime or where “it’s true” is not a defense [in a civil case].

This is a good article on the history of the issue: https://mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/941/criminal-libel

Edit: added the [].

While truth is still a defense, in the UK the burden of proof is on the defendant; this means that if you are accused of libel or slander in the UK, you have to prove that what you said is true in order to defend yourself. This can be very difficult; for example, how would your PROVE a hotel clerk said certain things to you?

In the US, the burden of proof is on the person suing for libel; they have to prove that what was said is false.

So in the UK, yes truth is a defense... but you can still be telling the truth and unable to prove it, which makes it not much help.


I’ll note that the UK has notoriously terrible defamation laws. They’re so bad that Congress passed a law to make defamation rulings from the UK unenforceable in America, just to stop the libel tourism.

Only in NI. In GB the law was reformed in 2013 so it's now not so bad.

Is it true in any first world countries?

There are two clearly distinct legal traditions: the common law in the anglo countries and civil law in the rest. Also USA and UK seem to have very different and each of them unique treatment in this matter.

So it's not a question of first world countries vs the rest. It's more of a USA vs UK vs the rest of democratic countries, not sure where other Commonwealth countries fall.

Edit: I feel I wasn't clear. Civil law countries mostly adhere to ancient legal doctrine, some coming from Roman Empire, some from middle ages tradition, some from Bonaparte, some from German theoreticians. This corpus is pretty consistent, grown through statutes, while common law tend to develop idiosyncratic variants following practice in every country.

The UK and USA both have common law systems, where judges have the freedom to establish precedence in regards to matters of law. I believe most of continental Europe operates on civil law systems where judges have much less room for interpretation.

On the matter of defamation the US is quite different from everywhere else though, because of the 1st amendment, and the 'actual malice' standards applied to 'public figures' in defamation cases. The confounding factors in the EU are the privacy clauses in the European Convention on Human Rights, so you see cases that would be related to defamation elsewhere being litigated on privacy in the EU.

That's a great visualization! Not only it represents a lot of information, but it shows the nuances, like the huge influence of Napoleon or the Germans.

A major difference is if defamation is considered a civil or criminal matter. In some countries such as Thailand, a defamation claim is a criminal matter, which can get you arrested, jailed etc., before going in front of a judge. It can and is used as a weapon, often in politics. In some other countries, a defamation claim first needs to be judged valid before arrest.

There are nuances though, some around whether it was believed at the time, although this usually means a later retraction (a solution here).

It's generally true in most countries, since libel laws extend to keeping private matters private since many things can damage a person's reputation even if they are true. For example, a British Lord's Nazi fetish.

In the US, the publication of private matters is a separate tort, invasion of privacy. For IOP, truth is not a defense.

Or another way of looking at it: libel is a narrower tort in the US than it is in the rest of the world.

Truth is an absolute defense to libel in the UK. And pretty much everywhere else in Europe, AFAIK.

Some European countries do have quite strict privacy laws, so a newspaper which obtained the material in a questionable way might have to be cautious (see the News International hacking scandal, for instance).

> For example, a British Lord's Nazi fetish

What case was this? Are you sure you're not talking about the Max Mosley (the former racing driver/FIA boss) case against News Group? Because that was a breach of privacy case, not a defamation one.

No, the other case happened around the same time or earlier but involved a member of the House of Lords with a fetish for Nazi-themed swingers' orgies.

It was a huge deal for a few weeks, and then it disappeared. I only remember it because my Torts professor brought it up in class during the defamation lecture as an example of the differences between US and UK defamation law.

Courts are not built to determine the truth, though, they're built to come to a verdict. In practice there are many countries that restrict the speech against the rich, including here in the US (ie the whole Peter Thiel/gawker debacle). I don't want to misstate the case, though, you are clearly much safer from these laws here in the US than in other ex british colonies.

Also, what does the cold war alignment have to do with this?

First, Second, and Third world country designations originated as US-aligned, Soviet-aligned, and non-aligned.

However, the meanings of these have changed from political designations to economic designationms.

Ahh, so i take it russia, Brazil, and China are all first world countries now?

Economically, american citizens have much lower access to basic social services and we let people die on the street with vacant housing in the neighborhood. Does that make us second world or third world?

Australian defamation laws are horrendously bad, it needs to be in "public interest", doesn't matter in the slightest if it's the truth. Say a fact in public, and then you go bankrupt in court arguing over the semantics of whether it's in "public interest" for it to be said.

At least local journalists are waking up to how bad it is with the wealthy suddenly throwing their weight around and taking every paper in the nation to court over a few words.

A terrible import from the UK. Despite all the nastiness and bad words, protected free speech is what the US really did get right.

All laws can be used in a multitude of unintended ways, something lawmakers never really consider.

Actually, just because a crime is not a valid defence in my country. One must prove it satisfy the public welfare and truth.

Suppose you know a person who committed a crime and be punished years ago and there is no immediate threat of doing it again, revealing that fact is a defamation, unless a person is a public figure like the politician and revealing the fact is important for public welfare.

> For starters, they have both civil and criminal defamation statutes (and criminal defamation statutes are already pretty bad).

Many US jurisdictions have both, and Constitutionally-allowable criminal defamation had almost identical conditions to Constitutionally-allowable civil defamation.

> The thing that makes it really bad though, is that truth is not always a defence for criminal defamation offences. The law is something to the effect of "disclosing private matters can be defamation even if it's true"

Truth isn’t a defense to (civil or criminal) invasion of privacy or public disclosure of private fact claims in the US, either. They are distinct from defamation, rather than the part of the same offense, but aside from that...

Japan’s application of anti-defamation laws seems similar[0].

That is, unless this case got special treatment due to the alleged corruption of Thai justice system.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23935469

That certainly wouldn't be surprising, but these laws do routinely treat Thai citizens as badly as they treat anybody else. He's likely not in for particularly fair treatment in any case.

That’s not unique to Thailand, a sizable portion of the American population appear to be very confused about how defamation law works here too.

I mean, if he didn't give them the benefit of the doubt he could be extradited and jailed in a mafia run prison right?

I for one have nothing bad to say about the Thai mafia.

You think the Japanese government would extradite someone to Thailand for low-level defamation?

I think that was just an unrealistic setup for a little joke

_b8kh 32 days ago [flagged]

He works in Thailand. What are you talking about?

You've broken the site guidelines a ton in this thread. Could you please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the rules when posting here? We'd appreciate it.

Why is moderation so heavy ham fisted on this site? I've read the entire thread (as it gives a good idea what to expect as a tourist there) and I have yet to find a comment from anyone that could possibly break some silly rule. People here are intelligent adults, and if something hurts their "feelings" too bad.

People need free discussion, ESPECIALLY during this scamdemic where everyone is seriously on edge.

Edit: If people get banned they just open up a new account. I've lost track how many accounts I've gone thru over the years. Yes, many were banned for unknown/irrational reasons, but the point is people just open a new account and done.

> People here are intelligent adults

I'm glad you feel that way. If true, it's because this community hasn't yet gone too far down the path to brain death, and from there heat death, which has traditionally been the default fate of internet communities. The HN guidelines are basically a way of attempting to stave off that fate: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=stave%20by:dang&dateRange=all&....

Swipes like "What are you talking about", "Wrong", "You’re inventing things and twisting reality", "The ridiculous part is your comment", "Are you for real", "What are you talking about", "Your statement has no connection to reality", "You apparently have not read enough" (all of which unnameduser1 managed to post in just this thread!) are obviously against the HN guidelines, which ask people to be kind, not to call names, and so on: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

It's our experience that when internet commenters come with sharp elbows in this way, it has negative effects on community. Perhaps you feel that these things are no big deal—certainly judgments can differ. But usually people who think 'no big deal' are deriving their standards from what works well in smaller, more cohesive communities. My favorite example of that is rugby players who beat the crap out of each other and then go out drinking together afterwards. Other examples might be an academic colloquium where the participants go hard after each other's ideas, or literary circles where people trade barbed witticisms. Or simply just regular watercooler conversation or talking smack with friends.

All of those environments are richer and able to sustain a much wider range than we can here. It may not feel like it, but HN is a broadcasting channels to millions of people. Broadcasting channels can't function the way that closed, intimate environments can—they are much too incohesive. People are far quicker to hear things that haven't actually been said (or meant), have extreme reactions, respond in kind or worse, and we end up with a Tacoma Narrows Bridge effect.

So yeah, we have to operate with safety factors that to some extent make discussion more bland (a downside) but have the effect of preserving the community for relatively high-signal communication, as opposed to shallow hostility, which eventually leads to screaming matches and then, as I said, heat death. Moderating HN as if it didn't need those safety factors would in my opinion be a big mistake.

If that seems wrong to you, it's probably because you're assuming a degree of stability that doesn't exist here. This is an easy assumption to make, because if X doesn't seem so bad, it's natural to think "what's wrong with X" and feel like the moderators are "heavy ham fisted" for scolding X. The problem is that X is not an end state in the state machine.

If it were merely a few sharp elbows, maybe that wouldn't be a big deal—but large internet forums are not stable this way. You can't stop at sharp elbows, because when people feel affronted, they escalate. Sharp elbows lead to nose punches, then brawls, and so on. If we start to go down that road, the most desirable and intelligent users will simply stop coming, leading to a higher concentration of low-signal/high-noise behavior, which will accelerate the feedback loop, and before long there will be no one left who feels that "people here are intelligent adults".

If anyone wants more explanation, here are some past ones:








While I don't necessarily agree, I thank you for taking the time to explain.

This is double edge sword for Thailand, maybe corrupt justice system can work as a new revenue source, but it will definitely impact new tourist going there.

I had a good time there, but I remember my expectations were low. But news like this make me cross that country from the map of future traveling.

I remember feeling when at entrance in Singapore I got stamp on passport with small print warning that "drug usage is punishable by death" regardless of not using drugs, I could not help myself of overthinking "what if someone puts a small bag in my luggage" or what if I my sleeve brushed somewhere where someone was sniffing coke...

A few years ago there was a scam in the Philippines where airport security staff would drop bullets into foreign traveller luggage so that when it was discovered by their colleagues they could shake down tourists by extortion in exchange for getting off the hook:


As for Thailand and other Asian countries, what you must understand about Asian culture in general as a westerner is the tremendous weight of saving face there. Something that you might think of as relatively innocuous and the cost of doing business, like raising your voice, a bad hotel review, or a negative restaurant write-up (after all, nobody anywhere gets 100% five star reviews) is something that creates dishonor and triggers immediate defense mechanisms that escalate according to the severity of how much face has been lost. Embarrassing Asians in public can cause them to feel that they are losing social standing, reputation, influence, dignity, and honour, and you should consider whether it's worth the hassle over something trivial to put them on the defensive.

A that very airport, I had forgotten to put some sleep medication in my carry on bag. It was instead in my hoodie's front pocket.

I got searched by airport security. They found the medication. They asked me what it was. I told them. And then this guy says "Okay good, I will have some after my shift". He then opens the bottle takes 2 pills out and puts them in his pocket and hands it back to me.

That sounds quite typical of Filipino security at NAIA and other domestic airports. OTOH, there are good things and bad things about this. For instance, one time while entering the PH I realised I had forgotten to put my Swiss Army knife in my checked baggage. I like this knife a lot and I was sure it would be confiscated and I would never see it again. So before going through the metal detector I took a gamble, I removed it and as I approached the operator, I lifted it up to eye level, displayed it to him, and asked, "Is it OK if I bring this?" and the Filipino security agent nodded and said, "OK" and handed it back to me when I passed it around the device.

Moral of the story: in the Philippines, act like a boss, get treated like a boss. It's a delicate balance, but you're more likely to succeed if you're polite rather than arrogant. Rules are not hard like they are in the west, they can be bent if not broken.

Sounds like a practical warning on how to stay out of trouble.

True respect laws and you won’t need to go to jail like millions of other people who do write negative reviews and haven’t been sued

> "What's he trying to say? That even if you're right, you shouldn't write a bad review because the justice system is corrupt and you're going to end up in jail anyways?"

Maybe that you should wait until you're safely home before you write your negative review. Well, it's not what he says, but it's probably the best advice in these cases.

lol YES. It's like Americans don't understand that sometimes staying alive is more important than doing what's right. Especially for something like a hotel review.

It's an odd choice to reference an historical murder on Koh Tao in this defamation matter arising from a social media review of a hotel on Koh Chang. Like trying to parse defamation law in Hawaii to solve a homicide on Staten Island, because they are both American Islands.

Do they have different laws between the islands? If not, then a more apt analogy might be referencing defamation law on Maui for a homicide case on Oahu.

In the article it states that the hotel guest violated the hotel policy of bringing alcohol on premise. So the guest seems to have broken the rules and then lied about it, which in Thailand is a serious crime.

Yes, the punishment is excessive but not sure how the guest is “right”.

Your comment is cherry picking the later section while ignoring the beginning, it seems.

> According to media reports the whole drama initially started as the guest brought outside alcohol into the hotels dining outlets which wasn’t permitted. It then resulted in a verbal row between the management and this particular individual who then posted bad reviews across several review boards.

>Yes, the punishment is excessive but not sure how the guest is “right”.

>Your comment is cherry picking the later section while ignoring the beginning, it seems.

I didn't claim that the guest was right. In my original comment, the only mention of "right" was in a hypothetical.


What am I missing? That portion of the comment is still there in the original. And, as mentioned, it's presented as a hypothetical.

> So the guest seems to have broken the rules and then lied about it, which in Thailand is a serious crime.

The article says the hotel wanted a fee for bringing in alcohol. Where are you getting that not paying a fee to bring alcohol to a hotel and lying about it would be a serious crime in thailand?

Buying alcohol from another business is not really something to jail someone over. Especially considering the overhead of putting someone in jail with three hots and a cot. UNLESS they got this person doing some kind of slave labor, then there's a small chance the math will work out.

This is all pretty dark though and violates my own personal values. Not sure why there are so many in the comments here defending this hotel.

About Sebastian Powell:

>Originally from Germany, Sebastian studied Business Management and worked in related positions for various companies including Lufthansa and the Thomas Cook Group before obtaining his BA and Masters Degree in Vancouver, Canada.

So if it's a corporation or a person, Powell is probably going to side with the corporation. Business school is like some kind of weird anti-customer, anti-worker brainwashing program. I've read the books they teach in project management and business courses. It was like an instruction manual for being a house slave.

Disclaimer: IANAL / I'm Thai but not currently living there.

I can't comment about the guest vs the hotel, but this one is also filed under Section 14(1) in Thailand's Computer-Related Crime Act in addition to Defamation by advertising, so it is another chapter in a long and ongoing story of Section 14(1) abuse, which says:

"Section 14: Whoever commits the following offences shall be liable to an imprisonment [...]: (1) Dishonestly or by deception, entering wholly or partially distorted or false computer data into a computer system in a manner likely to cause damage to the general public; which is not a defamation under the Criminal Code" (unofficial translation)

The original intention for this Section was to be used for _phishing and fraud_ (as it was originally based on Budapest Convention), but it is worded so loosely that it applicable to anything deemed "false information" as long as it is not directly a defamation. This is mainly due to the use of word "false information" instead of "forgery" in the Thai version. This Section (and the whole Section 14) has been used by government to suppress any political differences for a long time, and never once actually be used for phishing or fraud as it was intended.

It also doesn't help that this Section 14(1) actually has higher fine/jail time than the relevant Criminal Code and cannot be withdrawn, unlike the Criminal Code. Group of lawyers at iLaw[1] has been pushing to amend this Act for a long time, but lawmaker only respond to them by making it worse (to the point that it cannot actually be used for phishing or fraud[2]).

Right now the push to amend Section 14(1) kinda stalled, as Thailand has much bigger problem that need to be fixed (including amending the constitution so Army-tied party no longer get automatically elected, of which a signature of 100k Thai people with a hard copy of their National ID card recently been dismissed in favor for "100k" names in Google Forms from the pro-government side).

[1]: http://ilaw.or.th/

[2]: http://ilaw.or.th/node/5705 (in Thai)

I'm not surprised. I had some crazy experiences in Thailand.

Once the floor dropped out in our bungalow, as I was stepping on it. Sheer luck that I didn't fall through and cut myself open on the exposed building material.

Trying to explain this to the owner and they accused us of breaking the floor and wanted to charge for it.

Another time we wanted them to order a cab for us but they insisted we use their limo service. This was ludicrous so I just stood my ground and they finally ordered a regular city cab.

It can get pretty frustrating communicating with someone who doesn't understand.

Also raising your voice and gesticulating in their culture is really frowned upon. Even when you're mad you don't raise your voice or start waving your arms around.

> It can get pretty frustrating communicating with someone who doesn't understand.

They understand, they’re just aiming to maximise monetary gain. There’s so many scams to avoid that it’s actually hard work to travel there.

The culture of keeping a calm exterior can lull people into a false sense of security. A businessman I knew who lives there told me “you’ll never know a Thai is angry with you until they’re trying to kill you”. Definitely a gross generalisation, but hints of truth to it.

It goes both ways...

I had similar experiences in Thailand, but I also saw a lot of terrible behaviour from tourists - trashing rooms, causing disturbances late at night, trying to trick/scam or just nickle-and-dime the locals . Thailand seems to attract a particularly hard-partying demographic from Australia, UK and Germany in particular that gives other tourists a bad reputation - who are then treated with a lot of suspicion.

It wasn’t Thailand, but a long time ago I went to Bali and while walking around it dawned on me it was the Australian equivalent of Miami Beach.

Those locals put up with a ton of shit from drunk Aussies. But I’m sure they make enough money to put up with it.

> Australian equivalent of Miami Beach

That's the Gold Coast. Maybe it's more like Cancun?

Yes, Cancun was exactly the parallel my mind drew when I was in Bali years ago. Hordes of young, drunk a-holes looking to party on the cheap in a not-too-far-away locale.

There does seem to be an attitude, especially among the "lifestyle business" crowd, that SEA exists for Westerners to live like kings, with it borderlining on a masters/servants mentality.

That is true as well, particularly when it comes to Western pick-up artists perpetuating the image of "Asian" girls as "easy" and desperate for any White men, who then flock to those places in hopes of scoring what they can't do so easily back home.

> or just nickle-and-dime the locals

Some of the most revolting tourist behavior I've seen is along these lines.

Like being at a cenote in Mexico and a tourist with her three kids is livid at the clerk that she has to pay 100 pesos for her family (<$5) yet there's a sign that says the impoverished locals only have to pay 15 pesos (<$1). She wants that price! Arguing with the 16yo kid at the front gate who is nervously looking around for an adult to help. Then she got in an argument with us in line.

Some people feel untouchable when they're abroad, and they expect every place in the world to be the same as their little suburb. We need to stop making these people.

Those people probably also nickle-and-dime their countrymen when they're not tourists.

This seems like just classic poorer country trying to milk money out of rich westerner (well minus the floor dropping out that sounds awful)

The people you’re dealing with and owning these places are not necessarily poor. There are many poor people in Thailand but many very, very wealthy people and you might not be able to recognise which is which. The wealth divide is very big.

> There are many poor people in Thailand but many very, very wealthy people and you might not be able to recognise which is which. The wealth divide is very big.

Of course - this is true of most countries in the global south since the 80/90s.

Maybe it's because I've only just run across it, but this 'global north' / 'global south' thing is super weird. If you mean 'rich countries' / 'poor countries' why not say that, rather than link it to something like latitude which is only nebulously related to what you're actually trying to say?

Rich and poor country is relative, too. Compared to 50 years ago, there are almost no third world countries anymore. I believe Hans Rosling shared some data about this in his book Factfulness.

I would say almost no completely third world countries, but there are large parts of many, if not most countries that are very much severely underdeveloped or riddled with systemic corruption (third world by the classical definition), This is sometimes even found in the middle of some of the worlds most highly developed nations (cough, cough, Baltimore, New Orleans, etc). To what percentage of a country's human-inhabited area these third world tracts extend is essentially based on how pervasive or deeply rooted bad government and systemic daily corruption are. But i'd argue that in any country where the percentage of underdevelopment goes over 50% you can loosely claim third world status.

Also, don't be fooled by the main business/living hubs of the glittering major cities of the world into thinking that most places are now mostly first world: Sure, you can travel from Bangkok to Delhi to Cairo and then Mexico City and in all of them spend days inside an urban area that's remarkably comparable to a normal European or U.S city's. However, these bubbles only represent a small fraction of the totality of these places, and much of that total outside of said bubbles is very, very different in how it looks and works compared to how the majority outer parts of most first world cities look or work. This without even going into any detail about difference in the countryside and smaller provincial towns that aren't specifically tourist hubs.

> these bubbles only represent a small fraction of the totality of these places,

You are substantially under-estimating the size of the urban population of these countries if you think that the major cities only represent a "small fraction."

These bubbles I mention represent only a portion of the cities themselves. I'm not at all referring to the whole populations and areas of many third world countries' large cities. I'm aware of how urbanized many developing countries have become.

I partly speak from personal experience here too. The city I live in has a largish core urban zone that's fairly tourist-friendly, clean and highly, fashionably modernized and cultural (but with a charming colonial aspect).

Since the city in general has well over 15 million inhabitants, this "bubble" area itself contains well over a million people, easily, but it's just a small fraction of the rest of the city, which is very much what you'd call a dangerously third world place in terms of crime, corruption, administrative ineptitude and barely functional infrastructure.

Yeah, there's lots of phrases that can be unexpected when you first run into them - so I can get how you'd find it confusing.

I don't just mean 'rich countries'/'poor countries.' First, because that is not necessarily as simply true anymore - the economic relations are much more complicated. Second, that is a value judgement about how countries ought to develop.

You can read up more about it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_South

There's no shortage of rich westerners trying to use those poorer countries as their cash cows (think cheap VAs, the traveling entrepreneur living cheap there, etc)

> raising your voice and gesticulating in their culture is really frowned upon.

Where do people not frown upon that? Would you like someone raising their voice and waving their arms around in front of you?

> It can get pretty frustrating communicating with someone who doesn't understand.

Did you try speaking their language?

When I'm watching to some Italians communicating with each other, sometimes I think that they're going to start a fight, while they're just merely chit-chatting. Cultures are very different around the world.

Do Italians appreciate tourists in Italy angrily raising their voices and waving their arms around at them because the tourist didn't bother learning the language? That's what the other poster seems to be describing, rather than lively chit chat among friends.

How many places can a person reasonably travel to if they have to be conversational in the local language first?

Yes, no, please, thank you, and 1-10 aren't 80-20, but can go surprisingly far.

If you can't visit a country without shouting at the locals in your own language and waving your hands at them, while acting like it's their problem you're just another dime a dozen ignorant asshole tourist, and not the VIP you think you are, then you shouldn't be visiting anywhere.

And to save any more missing the point stereotypes about Italians or New Yorkers waving their hands at each other in completely different contexts:

A stranger angrily waving their hands and unintelligibly shouting things at you would be frowned upon in any culture.

And that this has to be explained - again - to some people is unbelievable.

I actually wasn't sure if the original post wasn't just a parody of the archetypal ignorant English-speaker abroad, since it's such a staple of comedy.

Judging by the downvotes though, HN is absolutely crawling with similarly entitled egotists who blame other people for their own chronic laziness and ignorance when they condescend to grace other countries with their presence.

Having the floor collapse under you and then being expected to pay for it seems like a situation where angry shouting and waving would not be considered inappropriate in many cultures.

On the other hand, some cultures may suppress even severe anger.

You've rented your property out to someone who one day tells you the floor has collapsed. You don't know what happened, only that since the guest was staying there your property is now seriously damaged.

Would you approve of the person who you consider damaged your property waving their arms about and shouting at you?

I don't think most people would, in any culture, from New York to Boston to Italy.

If somebody just almost died on my property and in the heat of the moment I had the nerve to ask them to pay for the damage, I would expect that kind of reaction. As a third party, I wouldn't disapprove either.

Anyway, this seems to be the hill you want to die on. You shall have it.

I got on much better with the sabra security at TLV after raising my voice and waving my arms around. A colleague later explained my initial beating around the bush reservation had been on the rude side by their standards, but expressing my frustration was polite honesty.

(I was blunt upon departure and it went swimmingly.)

Bonus clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvwpNkJd82w&t=75

New York? Boston?

Are you asking if I'm from New York or Boston because I wave my arms around when I speak?

No I'm from southern europe. ;) Where Bostonians and New Yorkers come from.

I have traveled to Thailand several times, and once the taxi driver put drugs on my luggage. He was crony with the guard at the airport who was very surprised when he could not find the small cocaine bags the driver has put there(and I had thrown away).

In Thailand they take drugs super seriously and they can blackmail you easily this way.

On the other hand you see all kind of scumbags from western countries traveling there thinking they could do whatever they please with total disrespect for the locals and the country.

Without more data, I bet this is the second case. If the online reviews are false the Hotel is in their right to accuse him of defamation.

Wait what?! I’ve got so many questions.

How exactly does a Taxi driver coordinate with guards? At what point did you discover the scheme? You were nearly blackmailed and just threw away the evidence?

How does the Airport guard blackmail you? How goes he expect to get paid? Why go through this and not just blackmail the actual legitimate drug users?

Here's a possible scenario based on the OPs story.

Two brothers - one works as a taxi driver, the other as an airport guard.

The taxi brother inserts small packs of cocaine in the bags of his passengers. Then texts his airport guard brother a description of the passenger and bag he inserted the drug in.

The passenger arrives at the security check and his bag gets pulled out.

The airport guard finds the drugs and puts the passenger in a room somewhere in the airport. The passenger now gets an option: pay a nice bribe and board the plane, or don't and spend the night there with the option of landing in a Thai jail.

Passenger decides to opt for the bribe (at that point, who wouldn't) - even though they know full well they didn't carry any drugs.

The airport guard brother pockets the $XXXX and the passenger hightails it out of there. Scared shitless.

Brother and brother meet at a bar later and share their spoils, celebrating with a nice meal and a few too many drinks.

Rinse and repeat. Could work with nephews, friends, family - it's probably not that hard.

A similar thing happens in the Philippines, but with gun ammunition instead of drugs. Yes, having a single loose ammo in your luggage at the airport can land you in jail. It got so bad that passengers would wrap their entire luggage with duct tape or cellophane to make sure the guards at the airport won't sneak one in. In fact, airports actually have cellophane dispensers so passengers can wrap them at the airport in case they forget to do it at home.


I've traveled a lot in the past 6 years, living abroad. Absolutely, wrap your bag if you can. Just watch what the locals are doing. If the majority are doing this, do the same.

They removed the legal penalties of of the bullet scam now it's a stern talking to and once they believe you have no evidence of using a gun/ammo, they hunt down the guards.

The CCTV, X-ray machines and general security theater is an extension project of the DHS, that posted warnings of NAIA used that to force NAIA to upgrade it's security theater alongside immigration.


I've always wondered why some travellers wrap their bags

And now you end up with "attempted bribery" charges on top, that may actually stick even if you can prove the cocaine story.

Are you honestly legitimately surprised?

All this is very common in third world countries. We continually prey upon each other in the best of times and heaven help any sheltered foreigner who happens to walk around with their guard down.

The first time I encountered this I was legitimately surprised. I have since accepted it as "a thing that just is" when traveling, but I suspect the same is true for united893: they are lucky enough to have never needed to think through this kind of scenario until now.

Where do you live?

Here in South Africa if you rent a car at Johannesburg airport, the corrupt metro police are waiting for you at the airport exit to "fine" you for "incorrect driving" or having the wrong licence. Easy for locals to dodge, but foreigners who respect a uniform easily pay the ransom.

I don't know, but something along these lines:

The airport guard searches your bag, finds the cocaine and proposes you pay a hefty sum to make the problem go away. The taxi driver gets his cut for planting the evidence.

> Without more data, I bet this is the second case. If the online reviews are false the Hotel is in their right to accuse him of defamation.

On the one hand, I think it is morally wrong for defamation to be a criminal offense.

But on the other hand ... don't go to thailand unless you are okay with their laws, same as any other country.

> Without more data, I bet this is the second case. If the online reviews are false the Hotel is in their right to accuse him of defamation.

I've been to Thailand many times too, mostly to Krabi (for the climbing). And like many, I use trip advisor.

I view the negative comments first. I find negative reviews valuable. A lot of them are made in anger and sometimes on purpose and less fault from the establishment.

This brings me to the review system. Trip advisor reviews make or break a place. Although arresting someone is quite extreme I hope there is a better way to moderate them.

How did you find the bag?

Pro Tip: leave your reviews after the stay. Another pro tip: know the local laws. American’s are THE WORST overseas because we think ‘Merica way of life is world wide. No, it isn’t, and you’d to well to humble yourself, learn the local laws, conduct yourself as if you were at Nana’s house. Wheaton’s law: “Don’t be a dick”.

But Thailand’s defamation laws, online laws, and more kinda turn me off from visiting. Granted the person in the story is an American that lives and works in Thailand as a teacher, still, you would think he would know the laws and not let his American ego get the best of him.

I feel like if leaving a one-star review of Google Maps can put you in jail in Thailand, it is highly irresponsible and unethical of Google to allow leaving reviews in Thailand. They should remove review feature entirely for Thailand, or disable lower ratings, or show a giant flashing warning explaining what you are risking by leaving the review.

On top of that they could scratch the review score for this property, remove the possibility to review it and put in a story about how a guest was arrested and jailed for posting a review. Google didn't cause this but they could have a part in stamping out this problem.

It sounds like it was the specific text of the review that led to the arrest. It doesn’t sound like all 1-star reviews would qualify as defamation. Of course it’s possible in any country to post certain text that is illegal. Fraud, threats of violence, and defamation are three obvious examples that are probably illegal to post online in nearly every country. I’m not sure why Google would need to post a specific warning about this.

The issue was not so much rating as content of comment. In particular they took offence over his claim they engaged on modern day slavery. That particular comment was taken down cause it broke site guidelines.

Thank you! This should be the top comment in this whole thread, as it is the only one, that speaks to the actual subject of the case.

It's just a figure of speech. What's so gravely offensive about it?

“Modern slavery” isn’t a figure of speech. It has a specific meaning describing worker exploitation.

For example the UK has the Modern Slavery Act - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Slavery_Act_2015

I mean, it’s at least arguably an allegation of a crime. I wouldn’t be a fan of criminal libel still existing, but that’s a case where it might be appropriate for the hotel to take a civil libel case, assuming it’s unfounded.

Which, considering this is Thailand, probably is founded indeed.

Nice downvotes. I don't get how people can be so oblivious to the fact that Thailand is one of the major hubs for modern slavery, especially when it's so well publicized but, well.

Context matters, in this case location.

It’s like joking about child prostitution in Cambodia. As an American it’s something that happens in far away lands (not entirely true, it happens in the US too).

In Cambodia, it’s a very serious issue that really pisses of locals since it’s mostly Western tourists supporting it there.

Joke about it in the US and it’s just frowned upon. Do it in Cambodian and you’ll piss people off enough to get yourself in trouble.

Read the article please. Quote: "A disgruntled American hotel guest who posted several bad TripAdvisor..."

It's right there at the start. So has nothing to do with Google Maps.

>I feel like if leaving a one-star review of Google Maps can put you in jail in Thailand, it is highly irresponsible and unethical of Google to allow leaving reviews in Thailand.

What? No. You can defame yourself in literally any public media forum where what you say could affect the other party. That means literally any public website with a comment feature. Singling out just google maps with a solution like that makes no sense.

Google has no ethical requirement to cotton wool people from being a dick and trying to negatively impact a business's revenue.

Jail for one star reviews is atypical even outside the west.

Short of threats of physical violence, you can't be put in jail for a comment in the US. That you think an opinion, no matter how dickish, warrants incarceration is ethically bankrupt.

That's not true at all. Aside from the obvious possibility of posting a comment that incriminates yourself, there are many situations where people have access to information that would be illegal to share on facebook - here's an example of someone found guilty of contempt of court for doing so https://www.wwlp.com/news/crime/mom-jailed-for-facebook-post...

Foreign travellers in the US can be as bad or worse than US travelers in other countries. Many Europeans, Asians, Africans, South Americans etc do no better job informing themselves of and following local customs in the US than Americans do in their countries.

> know the local laws

I've been to Singapore. There's the ones everyone knows about like the drug laws, not spitting, littering, or chewing gum. The one people don't mention is that cars also have the right of way over pedestrians, so be extra careful when crossing the street.

Pedestrians have right of way at pedestrian crossings. Cars have right of way elsewhere.


This is pretty standard, and Singapore is way safer for pedestrians than virtually any Asian country outside Japan.

In many states of the US, cars are never granted right of way over pedestrians. Instead pedestrians are required to yield the right of way to cars outside of crosswalks.

It's an important distinction because it places a legal burden on the driver to attempt to avoid hitting a pedestrian.

Pedestrians generally have right of way. Singapore is pretty exceptional in this. Further, loads of Asian countries are pretty poor safety wise. I don't think a comparison to other Asian countries is beneficial. Singapore probably also benefits that owning a car is quite expensive, plus sort of ok public transport (a bus is terribly slow though!). Singapore still heavily favours a car. A public transport ride can be easily 2x-3x the time as a car trip.

From your link: > Elderly pedestrians accounted for two-thirds of all pedestrian fatalities. (1 in 2 accidents involving elderly pedestrians was due to jaywalking)

Singapore does seem safe in a deaths/100k comparison. There's some EU figures where the best country does about ~20/million (so around ~2.0/100k). Singapore has 2.2/100k.

Things such as "jaywalking" is not a thing in loads of countries.

Also, the traffic lights are horrendous. You need to wait way too long. See e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knbVWXzL4-4 for various examples of way quicker lights.

On the other hand, one of the laws that nobody bothers to enforce in Singapore is jaywalking.

I’m unsure why you’re being downvoted. But it’s true. Unless you’re jaywalking in a busy area and causing distribution to traffic. The police don’t really mind if you jaywalk providing it’s safe for you to do so.

Edit: I guess the truth doesn’t matter on HN.

It's especially funny considering I'm a Singaporean citizen.

There's a blind corner near the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Giant "no crossing" signs. Pedestrians get hit all the time. It used to be standard for the police to write tickets to the person who got hit if they lacked life threatening injuries.

Then one time the person who got hit died in the hospital from a pre-existing condition, so they stopped writing the tickets.

So it's like Chicago, but clean?

> learn the local laws

I'm local to America, and I can assure you no human being is capable of learning my local laws. How many federal laws are there? No one even knows!


What hope do I have of learning local laws somewhere else? What hope does a foreigner have in America? The best you can hope for is to get a cheatsheet of some big common differences and then keep a low profile.

I don't know why you brought up "don't be a dick". It's unrelated to the matter at hand.

We don't know whether they were a dick or not. Even if they were, they didn't deserve to be jailed.

What we know for sure is that they went to jail because of a bad online review.

This is like telling a rape victim to not be a dick. Like wtf. Why is it even related?

As a Thai, we hope foreigners will help Thailand come up with better consumer protection. Thailand don't protect consumer as much as it should, and that's fucking sad.

Well, being dick shouldn't put you in jail.

There's a difference between being a dick, and trying to negatively affect a business's revenue with multiple, fabricated negative reviews posted over several weeks.

Over the fact you didn't want to pay corkage for bringing in outside alcohol (a pretty normal thing).

Is that really the level of being a dick that should land you in a foreign prison?

"Should" is a dubious word to use here. That's what the law is there, and what you or I think "should" happen isn't relevant.

It's relevant for other tourists who want to know the level of risk they are subjecting themselves when visiting. The Thai resort really Barbra Streisand'ed this.

Really? I should abandon my ethics and morals when I look to a different jurisdiction? If "what the law is there" is unjust, immoral, unethical, I should STFU, because that's what the law is there? That's an 'interesting' world view. It's a convenient one, because standing up for morals and ethics is inconvenient, but not everyone swings that way.

I don't see why not. The net damage might be equivalent to stealing significant money.

Stealing implies one party enriches themselves at the expense of another.

A better term for this situation would be "costing."

I was specifically referring to damage.

Perhaps, but as America has a reputation for putting people in jail for quite a few ridiculous reasons, we should be the last people to pass judgment on other countries' arrest policies.

Harassment might though, if the hotel is to be believed in this story.

I would not be surprised one bit if Singapore punished being a dick with N lashes in a public square.

I've lived in Singapore and they have a strong legal system, they don't just punish you for "being a dick". They do have a lot of strict laws, however.

They do kind of punish you for being a dick though, very very harshly: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/covid-19-robe...

I was actually there when this was going on earlier this year. Could have easily been me. They just picked on these poor people to make an example of them because they faced a backlash from locals (many of whom did similar things in other areas)

But again, that's breaking laws, not being a dick. They have laws and they enforce them.

Unless you're a live in maid right?

Sure, my comment was meant to further demonstrate how different nations have different laws foreigners must respect when within their borders.

I've read multiple articles over the years about foreigners being caned in Singapore over relatively minor actions, hence my not being surprised if they did such a thing.

Here's one such example:


Singapore strikes me as an interesting mix of an archaic kingdom with a modern culture and economy. I'm not necessarily against their use of corporal punishment and strict laws, it seems to be a generally nice place.

> I've read multiple articles over the years about foreigners being caned in Singapore over relatively minor actions, hence my not being surprised if they did such a thing.

The Michael Fay story was reported with a heavy bias in the US — the media conveniently left our significant parts of the story.

I have friends who were expats in Singapore at the time, and this is (approximately) their version:

- He was caught vandalizing multiple times.

- The first time he was given a stern warning.

- After successive events, his family was warned that their son was in grave danger, and their status in the country was at risk.

- After one or more additional events, they suggested to the family that Michael should leave the country immediately. His parents found that inconvenient due to their jobs being in Singapore.

- After another event, it was suggested to the family that both they and their son should leave Singapore immediately. Again, they chose not to leave.

- Finally, after multiple warnings, and one or more additional transgressions, they threw the book at him.

- According to my friends, most of the expats thought he was a rotten kid, and they thought he deserved it.

Note that this jibes with how I have seen a lot of law enforcement happen (esp. with Americans) in Japan, Korea, and HK. Specifically, warnings often happen before the hammer comes down, and that usually solves the problem. But if and when the hammer comes down, the outcome will be very bad for the recipient. When I have discussed this matter and this type of justice with folks from Japan, Korea, and HK, they all think it is fairly reasonable, and they don’t know of anyone personally who was not given a reasonable chance (obviously small sample size, and obviously the system isn’t always reasonable, but the consistency of the answers was surprising to me).

All that said, I suspect that some folks from developing countries may reasonably disagree with my assessment of Japan. I haven’t had the chance to speak with specific parts of those communities, so it’s hard to know what the reality is.

Otherwise +1, but they actually went comparatively easy on him: he could have been sentenced to 3 years in jail plus 8 strokes of the cane, but he got away with 4 months and 6 strokes, and even that was commuted to 4.

That said, caning in Singapore is no joke, even those 4 will scar for life: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caning_in_Singapore

I remember that! I went to the same school as that student. Blast from the past. It was a big news deal amongst the expats of the time. Although clearly he did a little more than simply just being a dick.

Which by the way might a perfect way of punishing dicks - nothing like pain and public humiliation to cure inflated egos.

That seems like a decent enough idea when you're 14 or so, but you need to understand how these things pan out IRL.

When Fill-In-Political-Party-You-Don't-Like takes charge, lobbies to expand the definition of dickery, adds criticism of corporal punishment policies to the list, and rules that you are a dick... now it's just about the worst idea.

> Which by the way might a perfect way of punishing dicks - nothing like pain and public humiliation to cure inflated egos.

That's a sub-human system of torture and brutality that you're cheering for, which would be rife with false accusations and witch-hunting style assaults by the mob as large groups of people would increasingly lust to harm outcasts and persecute smaller collections of minorities.

Are we burning people with inflated egos today? Stonings? Pulling finger nails out? That person over there, they've got an inflated ego, I saw them taking a selfie on Tuesday!

It would be the perfect way to run a stalinist gulag perhaps.

That’s a very Western point of view and not held by much of the world.

Sorry, but Americans are not the worst, no matter what you as the stereotypical self-deprecating American may think. If you asked Thai people who the worst are, they'd probably say Chinese tourists.

Living here, they usually do single out Chinese tour groups. It’s not a cheap vacation for Americans to just go to Thailand. The raucous Americans that just want to get stupidly drunk on a hot beach while harrassing local women usually go to Mexico, Central America, or the Carribean. In Thailand you can usually pick out the Americans for being eager to eat spicy food on the streets in an attempt to ‘live like a local’ instead of at the stereotypical Western pubs. There’s a selection bias on the accessiblity and cultural interest that causes generally better-than-average, non-stereotypical Americans to find themselves in Thailand specifically.

What if “they” didn’t think stereotypically and instead were open to the idea that individual people might think individually, regardless of race, culture, or nationality?

Agreed. But interesting how the "American tourists are the worst!" comment is currently upvoted and the "Nope, actually the Chinese are the worst" is downvoted.

Even if you believe it true that a pattern of a grouping of people is more often true than not doesn't mean it's something you should go around proudly stating.

Ironically, this is an extremely Western mindset you're what-iffing. And you don't need to rely on stereotypes for a population to have a preference(or viewpoint) on something.

If you say pizza is Americans favorite food, because 60% of individuals you ask say pizza is their favorite food, then no stereotype is in play.

That would solve so many problems.....

Chinese tourists do have quite a reputation for creating a nuisance. But in most of Asia the tourists who have the worst reputation for most outrageous behaviour has to be the Russians and Australians. Russians and Australians going to Asian tourist destinations, getting extremely drunk and starting fights is pretty much a cliche.

say what cunt? wanna go

We've banned this account for repeatedly posting unsubstantive and/or flamebait to HN. If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future. They are at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html. The basic idea is: if you have a substantive point to make, make it thoughtfully; if you don't, please don't comment until you do.

Hmmmm. Just to point out, that specific comment is Australian humour.

It's not good Australian humour, but it's humour. It's taking the piss out of (mocking) a "stereotypical Australian" reaction, as commonly found in pubs and other (cheaper) drinking establishments.

Sure, but the issue is https://news.ycombinator.com/posts?id=throwawaynothx, not that specific comment.

I mean there are local laws, but there is also the part of Thai islands where they are run by little local mobs. So probably pretty easy to get your friend in the local police to arrest a tourist that is hurting the local businesses. The guy was probably more out of hand then he is letting on.

I stayed a beach hostel once in Tonsai where these plain clothes thai's rolled up in a boat (two saying they were local krabi police) and demanded payment for "music licensing" from Thai owners. The owner refused to do the payoff, and the gangsters tried to physically escort him to the boat for "arrest"... the bartender got me to take a photo of them. They demanded I delete the photo and I was like "no you aren't going to mess with tourists" and they let the owner stay. Thai RIAA is brutal!!

Did you actually read the article? It's not a tourist but a teacher that works and lives there.

Link to the resort’s response from twitter https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VZCwyULmkLpZ7y5nT5wsaX0mn8w...

Seems like a messed up situation and i would like to side with the guest, but given I don’t have a culture frame of reference I wouldn’t be too fast to judge the resort.

"There are 3 main reasons that forced us to file a complaint – We are not suing him for just a single bad review:

1. He left fabricated stories on his reviews on TripAdvisor and Google that included xenophobic connotations, accusations of slavery and even comments that could mislead readers to associate our property with the Coronavirus.

2. He had been posting reviews roughly 1-2 weeks apart with obvious defamatory intentions. We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future.

3. Despite our multiple efforts to contact him to resolve this in an amicable way for well over a month, he chose to ignore us completely. He only replied to our emails, messages on review sites, etc. once he had been notified of our complaint by the authorities."


Yet the worldwide spread of this news story has done a million times more damage than a few reviews could have. Smart, now people are talking about avoiding Thailand all together.

If you want to be a tourist destination and at the same time threaten the freedom of your guests with such draconian laws, then you got a problem.

I read years ago that an American woman in Pakistan was arrested for walking on the street wearing short pants (wasn't modest enough). Tourists should know these things to be able to adapt or avoid.

> now people are talking about avoiding Thailand all together

Or, they're talking about refusing uppity Americans.

You can see what a load of BS is right from the one review screenshotted in the article. Point 1 boils down to:

- “manager is Czech and full of himself” - xenophobic my ass (preemptively: I’m Czech and no way in hell would I see such statement as having “xenophobic connotations”

- He wrote “avoid like the coronavirus” - that can’t mislead anyone with non-zero reading comprehension to “associate the property”

They’re just bullies.

In what way would you ever rationalize putting someone in prison for a bad review?

The guy said in one of the reviews the resort used slaves... that's a pretty defamatory claim.

The article says he said "modern day slavery", but the point here is not that there wasn't any defamation.

It is that police came to his work and put him in jail based off of a complaint by the hotel. Does that seem reasonable to you?

The review said the owners treat the staff like slaves [1] and that was just one of many bad reviews. It's not exactly simply writing a bad review.

Regardless, I do agree it's excessive, but each country has its fair share of strange laws and regulations. For example, as a European everything related to firearms in the US is just as incomprehensible to me.

[1] https://twitter.com/RichardBarrow/status/1309817382559391745

Defamation is a very serious crime there. The hotel had hard evidence and, I presume, saying a hotel practices modern day slavery is very high up in the list. In light of that, it doesn't seem that preventive detention, which I assume was the case here, is that unreasonable.

There's realpolitik on the other side of this coin as well.

The ongoing coup d'etat means that this isn't simply a matter of "follow local laws", but also a matter of "risk that this becomes a litmus test for the western world's orientation toward Thailand's new system of government".

Cracking down on US tourists for speech violations is exactly the sort of thing hawkish senators in the US might latch onto. If that happens, Thailand becomes a de facto Chinese satellite state.

Which is all to say: domestic affairs are never exactly domestic when foreign nationals are involved. Normally the stakes are low, but in Thailand's case the particular moment is fraught with risk. The juice seems not worth the squeeze.

> preventive detention

AFAIK he's been charged with crimes.

> ongoing coup d'etat means

You know there was an election right? Is the government still questionable? Sure. But the coup is no longer in effect, there is an elected government.

This didn't make the news because it contradicts what people know about thai law. A single complaint from a business to police over a review that gets someone taken from their job and put in jail is not reasonable and most would consider it a gross abuse of power, legal or not.

I'm not convinced that defamation laws are absolutely abhorrent. It's possible to ruin someone's life with verbal harassment, especially when given amplified powers via social media.

That is a false dichotomy. No one said anything about defamation laws in general and this is a business not a person.

They told the police that what he said was untrue and the police came to his work and put him in prison.

Cause of defamation laws? If you're against this isn't the root of it defamation laws?

If someone accuses you of speeding and you don't think you should get put in jail for multiple days does that mean you are against speed limits?

I'm reading many negative experiences of Thailand here, which saddens me. I've been there multiple times, it's a beautiful country that I enjoy very much. There's definitely problems with lousy tourists going there to purchase sex, but aside from that it's a very nice place and I haven't had any issues.

This isn't strictly related to the story, but I just wanted to add some alternative point of view to this thread.

Caveat: I've traveled to many "less developed" countries so I might be more street-conscious than the average traveller.

Commenters here should remember that the idea of online reviews originated in the USA, where there is the general principle of freedom of speech, and the ability to talk about nearly anything.

Most of the rest of the world doesnt have free speech, and the American model of online reviews doesn't really translate.

These people value "not being talked about behind your back" more than "ability to say anything about anyone". America chose one, while many other places chose the other.

For example, in some countries, saying something negative about a company or business can be a crime.

When I read this, I wondered how much of the world treats defamation as a criminal rather than a civil matter; here's the answer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Laws_by_jurisdictio...

Someone told me the other day something similar happened in Korea over a boy band. Guy got a year in jail for making anti-band postings online?


This is a big problem in the UAE too.

Any critique of anything that makes the country look less than a perfect paradise may get you fined, jailed and deported.

For example, some Swiss journalists were apprehended for taking pictures of the poor condition of laborers in Abu Dhabi.

If you try to report a crime, the police will grill you instead (why did you take pictures of the person sitting in the street selling shady goods, why didn't you just ignore the touts offering prostitution)

Even the community-run Dubai subreddit self-censors any real criticism of the city as "Dubai bashing"

These places are polished turds, with a lot of crap going on behind the scenes that foreigners don't see because of their carefully curated image and marketing.

(and of course, censorship and rug sweeping)

You know, treating tourists poorly has very far reaching consequences for Thailand. Before this commotion poeple would possibly only avoid that one particular resort, now people are talking about never visiting Thailand in the future after what has happened to the guy.

Thailand is the country where the price made their pet dog a high ranking member of the military.

I present to you: Air Chief Marshal Fufu!


Timely reminder that talking shit about royal family is 15 years in prison out there and that prince is a king nowadays

Well, as a military commander, a dog would surely have a leg up on any potential adversaries. (arf arf)

Thais have been embarrassed by the prince many times, though his father, the king was generally very respected. I don't think most would want all of thailand to be judged on the prince's antics.

To be fair, Thailand didn't lose a single war under Fufu's watch.

It sounds like the guy was being a jerk from the start. If so, his behaviour on the day and online should have consequences.

However, I have written negative reviews before and been harassed by the company concerned or had them flagged as inappropriate even though I always stick to facts that I could easily prove or opinions that are clearly stated as such.

As a result it always concerns me to see companies trying to manage their reviews so tightly. How many other negative reviews resulted in the customer being contacted and persuaded to change them?

I'm aware of Thailand's strict laws about political speech and criticising the monarchy. I don't necessarily agree with them, but I will always abide by them as it's not my business to say what Thailand laws should be like.

In light of this though, I'll be extra careful what I say when reviewing Thai hotels, and I will be careful to avoid this hotel in particular and continue to avoid hotels that seem to pay a bit too much attention to their Tripadvisor reviews. Hint: you're entitled to reply of course, but it looks a bit creepy if you reply to all of them.

In short, if we are to believe both sides of the story, the guy shouldn't have got away with this scot free, but the response seems heavy handed and doesn't exactly cover the hotel with glory.

let us compare this with the case of Vorayuth Yoovidhya and Wichian Klanprasert


The difference is obviously the millions of baht flowing.

I’m curious if there will be any repercussions for listings of this hotel (and the inevitable “rebrandings” to follow) on platforms where these reviews were left.

I imagine either the listing has to go, or a platform can be sued. I bet none of them show any notice a la “by leaving a bad review you are rolling the dice on some jail time”.

(Personally I prefer to leave a good review or none at all, save for extreme cases.)

I have been living and working in Thailand for more than a year now, and I never had similar issues in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, etc... I'm sorry for what happned to this guest, and I think that if we travel to a country we should be a litle bit aware of their cultures and respectful to their laws.

That said, jail was extreme in this case, and a warning would've been sufficient in my opinion.

I'm actually in Koh Chang right now and this gave me a chuckle.

You have no idea how entitled some "farang" (foreigners) here are and how low of an opinion many of them have of Thailand and the Thai people. Sometimes it's really sickening to see the posts of this certain bloc of expats. They expect the government to just overlook the rules when it comes to immigration, local customs and local laws.

Recently because of Covid, the government gave around 60 days notice of them needing to go and get their visa extension and would you know it, most of them waited until the last minute with huge lines to do it. Then they complained that the immigration department was "incompetent" and "this is Thailand for you lol".

Generally they are American, Australian or the worse... the guys from the UK.

As someone who travels quite a bit in Thailand, the Thai people already bend over backwards to accommodate most of them, but to no avail.

Go ahead, start reading posts online from these guys explaining how the Thai government is inept, don't realize how "important farang are" to the country. They want to enter the country without having to go through the quarantine!

They are the same guys who approach local girls and ask them "how much" and then spend their days with only other foreigners.

They are the guys who only eat "European" food while on their vacation.

They are the guys who sit at the bar and drink all day and then go to the walking streets to assume every girl they see is a prosti*ute.

They are the guys who make very small attempt to make friends with local Thai people.

They are the guys who bring their drunken western ways here and expect the local culture which is very different, to accept it without complaint.

So for this guy, I don't know the whole story, but I'm almost sure that he was in the wrong. Believe me, the hotels here don't want any trouble and are EXTREMELY sensitive to online reviews as they can make or break them -- mafia run or not.

It takes quite a LOT to make Thai people upset with you, and its clear this guy did it.

Regardless of what you said about “those guys,” which is barely relevant to the story, if we are to believe the business owners, they’re right in suing for defamation (the guy left 3 reviews out of spite)

However the problem is that the police considers this a good enough reason to jail someone working there legally after picking him up from his workplace.

I don’t think that’s fair.

> someone working there legally

There is literally zero evidence that he's working here (Thailand) legally. The article only says he works here, at a school.

That immigration police arrested him rather than "regular" police, suggests that his employment may not be above board.

They took him 250km away to where the hotel is and imprisoned him there. Does that sound like he was arrested for immigration troubles or this specific defamation suit?

Thai police can't speak English, so it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to ask the immigration police (which, by definition, deals with foreigners) to do it.

> Thai police can't speak English

You can say the same about a good portion of the Thai immigration police.

It’s not fair and I agree with you.

But it’s the law in Thailand. And sometimes “those guys” believe that the laws in other countries don’t apply to them because they think it’s “not fair” and not the same as the laws in their countries.

Again here you're just venting about "those guys." Some laws are "the law" in Nazi Germany too (not to cite more modern examples), so it's perfectly fine to call them out.

It's worth noting, for context, that for western audiences, Trip Advisor is the Gold Standard for travel reviews in this area. This is where they left the reviews. Restaurants will give a 5-10% discount on meals if you leave a review. Restaurants, tourist attractions, hotels/hostels etc have big Trip Advisor signs in their windows. A couple of bad reviews could be costly for a business.

I mean, it's reasonable if it is true defamation. I'm not sure how Thailand's legal system is structured, I think in a lot of places it would be unusual for a defamation case to result in arrest except for contempt of court.

Not that I generally have high hopes for Thailand's judicial independence from private and political interests, so who knows.

I don’t know why this comment was downvoted. It makes sense and is right.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact