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Immigration Police crack the whip on foreigners

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: In a move reminiscent of the darker passages of a Kafka novel, Immigration Police in the province are visiting foreigners’ homes and demanding to see passports and visas. They say they plan to check up on every foreigner’s residential and work address every 90 days. The visits, which have raised the specter of a police state, have outraged a number of foreigners who have received the knock on the door. One foreigner in Kathu, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “It was frightening, especially for my [Thai] wife, when they knocked on my door. “They wanted me to give them copies of my passport in color – not black and white, color! – plus a color photo. Can you imagine asking for this from a person who already holds a valid Thai visa? “It’s clearly a step backwards… hopeless for a country which says it wants foreign investment.” An American entrepreneur who brought 24 million baht into the country to start a business several years ago, agreed. “Had I known then what I know now… the collapse of the banking system, the determination of interest rates based on ‘Thai/non-Thai’… the silliness over visas… the call to raise work permit renewal fees to 10,000 baht a time… police knocking on my door… no, I never would have invested here,” he said. Another long term foreign resident, a German, observed, “The best thing to do is to keep a low profile. Don’t get a long-term visa. Don’t invest and don’t work! Just behave yourself and live quietly on a tourist visa. That way, you’re out of the system and the police won’t come knocking on your door because they won’t know where it is.” Pol Col Phirojana Paresakul, Superintendent of Phuket Immigration, told the Gazette that the visits are part of a national drive to “inspect” foreign residents in order to update information on aliens and to track down foreign criminals. The number of crimes caused by foreigners in Thailand has increased, he said, and has raised concerns about people staying illegally on the island. “We don’t want Phuket to end up like Pattaya, with large gangs of foreign criminals,” he explained. “Three Immigration Police officers from the Phuket Town office are now based in Patong and will be inspecting all foreigners in their homes or in their workplaces – offices, hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. “We decided to start in Kathu District because the majority of aliens are registered as living there, and many foreign criminals are reported in Patong,” said Pol Col Phirojana. The officers have instructions to be in uniform at all times when visiting foreigners, and to present their identity cards before asking any questions. Asked what criteria the officers are using when they decide which homes to visit, Pol Col Phirojana said, “First, it is based on information given in the arrival cards by the foreigners when they land in Phuket.” He explained that if the officers found a concentration of foreigners in the same neighborhood, they would visit and “inspect” all of them. “In some cases we are making visits because we have been informed by foreign residents themselves about their neighbors’ illegal activities, or possible illicit behavior. Foreign residents, he explained, will be asked to show their passport and visa, and, if they hold a non-immigrant ‘B’ visa, their work permit. They will also be required to fill in a form with the somewhat ominous title (in translation) of: “Official Report Form Regarding Those To Be Kept Under Observation”. The form requires information on a person’s aliases, distinguishing marks and scars, “character”, financial status, known associates, and “behavior/conduct”. Pol Col Phirojana said the form was also used to check whether a foreigner’s address had changed from that given in his arrival card (which may have been filled out as recently as a few days prior to the knock on the door); to see what kind of business the foreigner is engaged in; and to determine whether the foreigner’s work location had changed. Based on this information, he said, his officers will then continue to visit each foreigner every 90 days for further inspection. Asked why a color copy of the passport was required, he explained, “We need the color copies for investigation and to keep as a record of each individual. “It’s hard to tell from a black and white copy whether the passport or the visas are forged. In color, the lines and printing can be examined to compare differences, especially on the visa page.” He added that his officers would only arrest those found to be “obviously guilty”, such as those who have overstayed their visas or are working without a work permit. He stressed that every foreign resident has the right to ask for the officers’ ID before presenting any documents. “I look forward,” he added, “to good cooperation from every foreign resident in Phuket. It is our responsibility to prevent foreigners from committing crimes and to reduce the number of people staying illegally on the island. “Anyone who hears or knows of any illegal activity by foreigners can report to the Immigration Office or contact me direct on 01-4720399. If you are worried that the person you are reporting may be dangerous, I can assure you that your report will be treated in the strictest confidence,” he said.

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

Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment | The Thaiger

A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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