I saw this story first on Thai Visa forum. It is a pernicious online forum: the title of the ‘journalistic’ piece was ‘Foreign manager of Koh Phangan hostel faces deportation for cannabis possession’. Notice how the word ‘foreign’ comes first.
The story is that Salem Rose from Lebanon was arrested by Koh Phangan police on 13th February, 2018. The police had raided the Wonderlust Hostel in Ban Tai. They claimed to be checking paper work as part of the clamp down on foreigners without the correct paperwork living and working on the island. When Mr. Rose was able to produce the correct paperwork the police are reported to have asked if they could search the premises. Mr. Rose refused. The military were then called in. They searched the hostel and found 11 grams of marijuana.
That was game over for Salem Rose. He was lead away for the usual photo op with uniform and non-uniform police. The Thai Visa story claims Salem Rose has been charged with possession of a category 5 narcotic. He is likely to have his work visa revoked and to be deported.
Couple of points worth mentioning about this story. Do police need search warrants to search a business premise or person’s room? If so, was there one? And why did the military need to intervene?
Secondly, 11 grams is a small amount. And how is it proved to belong to the manager, Mr. Salem Rose?
The final point of the story seems to be the context of the crackdown in Koh Phangan of illegal hostels, guest houses and other businesses. The article claims 37 businesses on the island are under investigation for operating without official paperwork. Moreover, Wonderlust along with 6 other hostels in the area were ordered to close.
Naturally, the comments below the line mention that this could be angry Thai hostel owners wanting to get rid of some of the competition for the lucrative dorm bed market during the Full Moon Party. I suppose those businesses not paying for hostel licences and not paying tax do have an unfair advantage over other legitimate hostels.
The final point I should like to make is about the comments that such stories on Thai Visa forum provoke. There is so much bile, hatred and anger. There are those who invariably find fault with Thai authorities or prevalent Thai attitudes. There are those who invariably say ‘good riddance’ when it comes to a foreigner being caught and being deported or sent to prison. And there are those looking for a conspiracy involving corrupt cops. Nobody is saying ‘unlucky Mr. Rose. Only 11 grams. That sucks.’ There is an ugly sanctimonious quality to those foreigners living legally in Thailand and regularly commenting on Thai Visa forum.