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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Opinion: TM30 Alienating Law-Abiding Aliens


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BANGKOK — Imagine yourself an expat in a country dubbing itself as amazing but every time you travel from one province to another for longer than 24 hours you must report to police within 48 hours of arrival in the new place because you are an alien.

Amazingly restrictive, burdensome isn’t it? Welcome to Thailand 2019!

Whether one thinks it makes sense or not, Thai immigration police is enforcing this online application form requirement for all foreign expats in Thailand.

Commander of Bangkok immigration police Pol Maj Gen Patipat Suban na Ayudhaya insists this is for the safety of both foreigners and Thais.

“We will try our best to distinguish between the good guys and bad guys. I promise all of you: We try,” Patipat told the jam-packed mostly frustrated western audience at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand on Thursday evening.

To be fair, the law has been around since 1979, during the height of the Cold War that is. Immigration police are now just enforcing on expats while tourists are spared because hotels fill up this form called TM30 for the travelers.

Expats must do it in person or online but they say the application is slow and it took some as long as five weeks to merely get a login password.

Patipat’s man immigration superintendent Pol Col Thatchapong Sarawanangkul insisted that was nothing wrong with the online app, however.

Nevertheless, Thatchapong admitted he has to work until 10pm every night with no holiday although his wife is delivering their baby by the end of this month.

In an additional clear admittance that Bangkok immigration police force is ill-equipped to handle the controversial online form, Patipat added that there are only 10 officers handling the online app verification.

Basically they have to check each online report, one by one, if it’s authentic or not, in the hope of spotting potential ‘alien criminals’ bent at committing crimes in Thailand.

This may be a noble goal but let us pause and think for a second if any potential alien criminals would be foolish enough to simply submit genuine details of their latest where about in order to wait for the Thai immigration police to arrest or deport them?

So while the chance of catching the bad guys from the TM30 immigration form is very slim, the majority of the expats in Thailand, the so-called good aliens bear the brunt of the inconvenience and feel stifled. It’s as if Thailand is turning into a police state for the largely law-abiding expats.

This is what the TM30 has accomplished so far and mounting damage growing on a daily basis and more are thinking whether it’s worth the trouble of living in Thailand.

Instead of making law-abiding expats feel most welcomed and more at home so Thailand can boost its economy and enrich its culture and society, the new pedantic TM30 immigration form have alienated hundreds of thousands of law-abiding aliens.

When something makes no sense it should be done away it. For decades the regulation wasn’t imposed although it was the law. It’s not too late to do that again before the law ends up causing more problems than it solves.

TM30 is an unnecessary waste of time and resources in the name of national security. Such pedantic and restrictive rules belongs not to a nation wanting to attract more foreign expats and investments but one which seeks to alienate more and more law-abiding aliens.


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