In Thailand, the government has launched a programme to clear thousands of beggars from city streets.
GV Bangkok street scene.
SV Policeman chases and arrests a streetwalker.
SV Policemen arrest a beggar.
SV Police arrest another beggar.
SV Policeman patrolling street.
SV Screaming child bundled into police van.
SV & CU Beggars assisted into police truck with child. (2 shots)
SV Truck pulls away
CU FROM Money on table TO woman being booked into detention centre.
SV Seated women watch as new arrival is searched. (2 shots)
CU & SV Detainees learning carpentry and weaving. (2 shots)
GV ZOOM IN Farmworker irrigating field by hand.
SV Farmhands feeding livestock. (3 shots)
SV & CU Beggars receiving money from passers-by. (3 shots)
TRANSCRIPT: NEAT: "Bangkok alone is estimated to have at least three thousand beggars -- they vary from street-wise professionals to deserted wives and orphans. Already at least another one thousand have been arrested under the new government programme and placed in special rehabilitation centres. But authorities admit success is proving difficult. Beggars have been present in Asia for centuries and there's no immediate solution. Many of the beggars survived simply because Thailand is a Buddhist country. The Buddhists believe making merit is the ultimate practice and for the Thais there's no better way to make merit than to give money to a beggar. Each day special government teams patrol the city streets in search of beggars and each day at least thirty people are detained. For the welfare and police officers involved it's not a job they relish.
Many of the beggars can afford to post lookouts -- some of them armed with knives -- and frequently defend themselves against arrest. Still the officers take cold comfort from the fact that some of the beggars, despite their appearance, earn more than they do. Those beggars with families are not separated from their children. First offenders are sent to the rehabilitation centres for one month -- a second offence bring one year's detention. At the centres the government attempts to teach the beggars skills like carpentry and handicrafts, but authorities admit that when released most of these people will simply return to the streets. Mechanisation in many of Asia's agricultural-based economies has left untold thousands of farm labourers without work. Many have simply headed to the big cities where job opportunities are even fewer. Unlike in western nations with extensive welfare systems, the unemployed and unskilled in Asia can expect little government assistance. Begging and stealing then becomes a means of survival. The government in Thailand is hopeful that its latest programme will at least offer an opportunity to those beggars who genuinely wish to work and perhaps more importantly regain their pride."
Initials VS 16.30
REPORTER: GARY NEAT
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In Thailand, the government has launched a programme to clear thousands of beggars from city streets. Police have been taking them to rehabilitation centres for training in such occupations as woodworking before allowing them to return to the cities. Gary Neat of the Australian Broadcasting Commission reports from Bangkok.