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Officials check visa service firm

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: The investigation into fake entry permits for foreigners took a halting step forward recently when Immigration officers visited a “visa service” company and seized 20 passports found on the premises. “We checked the company where, foreigners informed us, they had obtained stamps, and now we are waiting for further instructions,” Pol Capt Krissarat Nusen of the Phuket Provincial Immigration Office (PPIO) told the Gazette. “We found evidence there but we [have no proof of] what they were doing. We have to get more evidence before we can proceed against [the company]. “If we want to raid them, we need to have foreigners report officially to the police that they were cheated by this company, but so far no foreigners have made such reports to the police. Some have just given us information.” He said that the holders of some – but not all – of the passports had contacted the PPIO requesting the return of their travel documents. The reluctance of foreigners to make reports may be partly explained by the fact that police appear to be applying a narrow intrepretation of the rules. While those who contact the Immigration Office to report having fake stamps will not be charged with being accessories to forgery, they will be fined for overstaying their previous legitimate entry stamps at a rate of 200 baht a day, up to a maximum of 20,000 baht. Capt Krissarat said that after the Gazette published news that “victims” of the visa service company could present themselves at the PPIO and would not be charged with a crime, four or five people had come forward. “We have had many phone calls asking for more details about this, but no one seems to be brave enough to make an official complaint to the police. “I would suggest that victims contact their embassy because Immigration in Bangkok is already working with the embassies over the fake stamps,” Capt Krissarat added. Colonel Montri Kosiyasathit, Deputy Commander and official spokesman of Immigration Bureau 1 in Bangkok, said he felt that local officers were interpreting the law too narrowly. “I don’t think it’s right to fine them for overstaying – they are victims, and had no intention of overstaying. It is up to the judgment of individual officers, but most of those working in local [immigration] offices tend to interpret the law narrowly,” he added. He said that he would discuss the matter of the overstay fine with the Major General in charge of Immigration Police Region 3, which includes Phuket. “I will suggest that he instruct local offices not to impose the fines because [these people] did not intend to overstay – they were victims [of fraud].” He agreed that action could not be taken against the visa service company until foreigners are willing to make official reports complaining of fraud. “However, we can question the foreigners whose passports were found as to why their passports were left with the company,” he added. Col Montri also urged foreigners to call Bangkok if they came across an Immigration officer “cheating” or telling them to do something they knew to be illegal. They should call 02-2871740 during government office hours, he said, and be prepared to give the name of the offending officer, along with the date and time of the offense and the place where the officer works.

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

Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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