Ang Pao 'normal' at Chinese NY : Chalerm
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung on Tuesday played down the case of the two police officers who demanded Ang Pao money from a suit shop owner, saying there was nothing wrong with the giving of Ang Pao.
Chalerm, who supervises the Royal Thai Police, said it was impossible to prevent police from receiving Ang Pao or present money from Chinese businessmen on the occasion of Chinese New Year because businessmen or shop owners were willing to offer the gifts on their own.
Chalerm said the case of the two police officers from Bang Rak police station made headlines because they went to ask for the present money from the wrong shop - from an Indian shop owner, not a Chinese shop owner.
On Sunday, the two police officers were caught on a security camera in the suit shop demanding Ang Pao from the shop owner in front of a Nation television journalist.
"They shouldn't have asked for it. They asked for it in the wrong place. Chinese New Year is the celebration of Chinese people but they asked for Ang Pao from an Indian shop owner. They are not smart. It became an issue because they went to a wrong place," Chalerm said.
Chalerm said the two officers would be regarded as having committed a wrongdoing if they extorted the money or forced the shop owner to pay them.
"In that case, legal action would be taken against them. If their action warranted firing them, then they would not be spared," Chalerm said.
The two police offices walked away without receiving the money after the shop owner told them that a reporter was present.
Chalerm said he was not defending the two police officers but he would never be able to do away with the practice of police receiving Ang Pao money from Chinese businessmen or shop owners.
"This is a social norm. They always give present money on the occasion of Chinese New Year," Chalerm said.