General Anantaporn Kanjanarat, head of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) has told a press briefing that his agency would co-ordinate with the National Office of Buddhism to ask for co-operation from various temples throughout the Nation to educate the public about appropriate merit-making ways and to stop them from giving cash to beggars as it is illegal.

“If people wish to help the beggars, they can make donations to the MSDHS projects for vocational promotion for beggars,” General Anantaporn said.

As temples are the sites for worshiping and merit-making, many beggars wander around temples and other high-traffic attractions, to ask for money from visitors.

The minister said stickers warning against handing cash to beggars in English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Cambodian and Myanmar would soon be placed at tourists attractions, airports and state offices.

A recent meeting of the Beggar Control Committee at the MSDHS head office in Bangkok was told 237 beggars (including 156 Thais and 81 foreign migrants) had been detected from October 2018 until March 2019, and a total of 4,361 street performers had registered with the authority for access to public space, with only 300 locations available.

The meeting also resolved to impose a sliding scale of fines on beggars. Those arrested for panhandling for the first time would be fined at 500 THB, the second time 2,000 THB, the third time 5,000 THB and the fourth time and above 10,000 THB.

Such fines were in line with the Beggar Control Act’s latest edition, which prohibits people from being beggars or face a maximum one-month jail term and/or a maximum fine of 10,000 THB.

The new law required beggars to admit to life quality development and protection centres or quit panhandling.

Once they are admitted to such centres, they would not be allowed to leave the centres without permission or face a maximum one-month jail term and/or a maximum fine of 10,000 THB.

Those aiding or supporting beggars’ panhandling will face a maximum two-year jail term and/or a maximum 20,000 THB fine, while those reaping benefits from beggars by hiring, asking, abetting and instigating the panhandling will face a maximum three-year jail term and/or a maximum 30,000 THB fine.