Politics

Bangkok owns up to fake security cameras

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This photo, posted to Thailand's popular Pantip message board, helped expose that Bangkok officials set up more than 1,000 fake surveillance cameras to assure citizens' safety.

Credit:

Pantip

Closed-circuit security cameras in Bangkok can capture all sorts of misdeeds like, I don't know, perhaps a transgender 7-11 bandit's stick-up spree.

But only if they're real. Turns out up to 1,300 closed-circuit cameras posted around Bangkok by the city government are not, according to the Bangkok Post.

This revelation is owed to an observant user of a popular Thai message board called Pantip. Said the user in Thai: "The other day I ascended a skywalk, saw four closed-circuit cameras and felt rather relieved. But then I clearly noticed how strange they appeared."

Only the cameras' casings were screwed onto a metal pole. Few passersby would notice that, in fact, there was no camera inside.

A sign promoting the government's safety campaign - slogan: "Looking After You, All Your Life" -- was posted on the same pole. "How are you going to look after us like this?" the message board user wrote. 

The post has snowballed into a much larger story in Thailand and prompted an official response. Yes, a lot of the cameras are bogus, officials admit, but it's not what you think.

It doesn't take a hardened skeptic to assume that the cash allotted for the non-existant cameras just might have gotten lost in a few bureaucrats' pockets. But Bangkok's governor insists the fake cameras were a low-budget method to fake out thieves and deter crime.

In an interview with the Bangkok Post, the governor contends that the 10,000 new cameras bought on his watch -- and heavily promoted in a city safety campaign -- exist and are currently operational.