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Chonburi immigration introduces “smart car” to check foreigners’ visa status

Jack Burton



PHOTO: Chon Buri immigration sent a "smart car" into action, with state of the art electronics onboard, to verify the status of foreigners in and around Pattaya - Na Naew

Overstayers and ne’er-do-wells beware: Thai media are reporting that Chon Buri immigration sent a brand new BMW “smart car” into action, with state of the art electronics onboard, to verify the status of foreigners in and around Pattaya.

By “smart’ it’s basically some Pattaya cops riding around in an expensive car with a laptop. We presume that if the car was a much cheaper Honda City or Toyota Yaris it would been less smart.

Authorities say the vehicle will be used to quickly verify the passport and visa status of “suspicious” foreigners across the city (code for “non-caucasian”). The vehicle’s computer has the ability to instantly check the passport and criminal background status of foreigners.

The car’s first target was 54 year old Imadh M. from Sudan, spotted walking outside his house in south Pattaya. After running a random check on him from the vehicle, immigration soon realised that Imadh was in Thailand illegally. He was taken to Pattaya police station and will be deported and blacklisted, at his expense.

Police told reporters that the car is part of Immigration Bureau chief Sompong Chingduang’s plan to rid Thailand of illegal aliens and “undesirable” foreigners.

Chonburi immigration introduces “smart car” to check foreigners' visa status | News by Thaiger

Stopping visitors for random passport checks is entirely legal in Thailand. Under Thai law, foreigners must carry their passport at all times, though in practice a copy is generally permitted. However, the copy must have the individual’s arrival and visa stamps, not just the identity page.

Chonburi Immigration told the media that they will continue to conduct random checks on a daily basis, looking for “suspicious individuals.” They didn’t define what makes an individual “suspicious.” Authorities noted that those who are in the country legally and following the rules have nothing to worry about and a normal check takes only a few seconds.

The public is encouraged to call 1178 to report infractions of immigration laws, or if they believe someone has overstayed or is in the country illegally.

Source: The Pattaya News | Naew Na


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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