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Phuket Opinion: Airports welcoming pros, avoiding cons

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Angkarn Yasanop, 29, graduated from the Sampran Royal Police Cadet Academy in Nakhon Pathom in 2007. After he served as an immigration officer at Phuket International Airport, he was moved to Phuket Town to work as an immigration office Sub-Inspector. Here he discusses the need to pair swift immigration processing at the airport with sufficient security.

PHUKET: People are working so hard to promote Thailand’s tourism industry that we are often overlooking issues of safety and security, which is why many international criminals are able to easily enter our country.

At the airport we are trying to speed up the process of moving people through immigration to impress tourists and provide a better experience for them. However, because of this we often fail to check tourists’ information carefully enough.

Now that we will be joining the Asean Economic Community (AEC), our policies are likely to be geared toward making the immigration lines at airports move even faster.

I understand that people entering the country, as well as Immigration officers, want to have a speedy service. However, the security of the country is very important, and a fast service doesn’t guarantee safety. Perhaps it would be better to provide the same speed of service, but increase the quality of our security.

One of the major issues in our current security system is that our database of people blacklisted for entering the Kingdom is not linked to Interpol, so it doesn’t automatically flag those wanted by the international policing agency, nor does it allow us to sync up our system with its black list.

This lack of communication between our system and theirs is one of the fundamental reasons that transnational criminals are able to enter Thailand.

Now if an embassy asks for our cooperation in arresting a criminal, they will send the suspect’s name or arrest warrant to the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok and it will be added to our system. But this only works in cases where the embassy has notified us – if they don’t provide the information to us, we have nothing to work with.

Another standard situation when we are able to add criminals to our blacklist is when they have committed a serious crime in Thailand and the police inform us of either the criminal’s name or the arrest warrant information.

In such a case, we will add the criminal to our blacklist before deporting him and he will not be able to return to Thailand.

Another security measure we have been working on enforcing in Phuket is having hotels and other guest houses filing daily reports to the Phuket Immigration Office that identify all foreign guests.

However, Phuket has a lot of hotels and it is hard to control all of them. We started the project about a month ago, and have already started issuing fines to hotels and guest houses that have not complied. The fine is set at 2,000 baht for smaller businesses and 8,000 baht for larger resorts and hotels.

So far we have fined only about 10 businesses. There are still many more that need to be fined, but with our current manpower it is impossible. There are just too many places on Phuket for us to take quick action against all of them.

This security measure, like many others, is intended to increase the safety of all residents and visitors to Phuket. Because, really, the security of a province and a country leads to greater happiness for all. Though we do our best to protect Thailand, it is the responsibility of every Thai citizen to do his part in protecting their homeland.

Please, everyone, help us to take care of Thailand.

If you find a foreigner taking part in an illegal activity or notice a suspicious-looking foreigner in your neighborhood, even if he or she is a friend of a friend, report it to us at 076-221905.

— Orawin Narabal

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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