Life & Leisure

Thai hotel sues US citizen for writing negative reviews

Bangkok, Sep 27 (efe-epa).- A United States citizen in Thailand faces a defamation case, which entails two years in prison if proven guilty, for writing online negative reviews against an island resort.

The Sea View Resort hotel located on Koh Chang island is one of the top Thai tourist destinations known for its sandy beaches and turquoise waters.

Colonel Thanapon Taemsara of Koh Chang police confirmed to EFE on Sunday that they had received a complaint from the resort against the American citizen for his negative comments on the TripAdvisor portal.

“The hotel had requested the accused to remove such comments, but the defendant denied to do so and he insisted to bring the action to the court,” Taemsara told EFE.

The accused was arrested on Sep. 12 and released on a bail of 100,000 baht ($ 3,160).

Thailand’s anti-defamation law carries a possible penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of 200,000 baht.

Tom Sturop, the room manager of the resort, told EFE in an email that the hotel filed the complaint based on four reviews written about a couple of weeks ago.

“This was a premeditated attack on us that seemed to continue week after week and we did not know when his attacks would end,” Sturop said.

“He ignored all our efforts to contact him and as the last resort, we were forced to involve the authorities. We do not have any authority to request the arrest of any citizen. His arrest was a decision made by a judge and not us.”

In his now-deleted reviews, the accused some foreigners work in the hotel of “treating the workers like slaves” and the restaurant manager of being “extremely rude with the customers”.

The accused even recommended avoiding the hotel like the coronavirus.

“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,” the resort said in a statement.

The statement noted that the guest and a friend visited the resort and brought outside alcoholic beverages to consume on the premises, violating hotel rules not to allow outside drinks.

They were informed by the hotel management that there was a corkage fee of 500 baht if they want to consume outside drinks, the statement said.

“The guest and his friend started to cause a commotion,” it said, adding they were finally allowed to drinking their outside alcohol without paying the corkage fee in the restaurant.

The next morning, the guest and his friends checked out with no further complaints.

The hotel “received the first review on TripAdvisor by ‘Wesley B’ written in both Thai and English” a day later.

Human rights organizations have denounced Thai defamation laws because powerful players use them as a tool to intimidate and harass and silence activists and journalists.

In December last year, a Thai court sentenced journalist Suchanee Cloitre to two years in prison for a tweet about a dispute over working conditions at a chicken farm owned by the Thammakaset company. EFE-EPA


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