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Phuket expats can enter census data on line

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PHUKET: Foreigners in Phuket wanting to take part in the national census can do so on line from September 1, the Phuket Provincial Statistical Office has told the Gazette.

Prapai Pukngarm, a technical and planning officer at the office, said the National Statistical Office (NSO) website (www.nso.go.th) should be ready to accept census data from September 1, when data collection begins nationwide.

The NSO has arranged for Phuket Rajabhat University students to take on the data collection in Phuket, which began July 1. They were allowed to begin data collection before the rest of the country because of their exam schedule and because the political protests in Bangkok that caused the postponement in some regions of the country did not directly affect Phuket.

Ms Prapai said foreigners can also take part by picking up census forms at Phuket Immigration, The forms are available in different languages, including English, French, Chinese and Japanese.

Once completed, the forms can be returned to the NSO by post, she said.

“However, only about 15% of the forms we have put out are coming back to us, so we would prefer to have our staff collect the data directly,” she said.

If nobody is at home when data collection students visit, the students will return later and try again. They also leave “appointment forms” residents can fill out advising them of a convenient time for the data collection to take place, Ms Prapai added.

For the first time, foreign residents who have been on the island three months and are intending to stay longer will be included in the census, which is undertaken every 10 years.

This is also the first time the census-takers will attempt to tally the number of low-wage laborers from neighboring states, including those in the country illegally.

The NSO promises that all information acquired is confidential and for planning purposes only.

Phuket has a registered population of about 330,000, but it is thought that double this number of migrant workers from other parts of Thailand also call the island home. When expats and low-wage foreign workers from Burma are added, the actual population could reach as as high one million, according to some official estimates.

The huge unreported population and steady flow of foreigners to the island has resulted in Phuket emerging as statistical leader in a number of areas, including the incidence of deadly diseases and road accidents.

At the same time, the low “official” population figures result in a lack of funding in critical areas such as public health and law enforcement.

— Atchaa Khamlo & S. Fein

 

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