As the number of Westerners relocating to Thailand increases, so too does the value of our contributions to the country. More of us call Thailand home than ever before, yet the value of our contributions, be they our labour, our skills and expertise or the economic benefits we bring are seldom acknowledged. Frankly, we deserve better. But we're not organised and we lack both leadership and a voice.
How significant is our total combined contribution to the country? To answer that we need to know how many of us there are. Half a million? More, I'd say. Could there be a million of us? I'm not sure we're there yet, but we're fast moving towards that number. That's a lot of Thai wives we support. It's a lot of cable TV subscriptions. It's a lot of landlords' pockets we're filling…and the list could go on.
But despite the numbers, we are largely unrepresented. No-one works to put forward our views, or to better our position as contributing members of society.
There are the various chambers of commerce but they are more about the promotion of business, business relationships and networking.
Most Western countries have diplomatic representation in Thailand – and many do good work – but the first rule of diplomacy 101 is don't rock the boat. Our embassies will only go so far.
In Pattaya foreigners have got their act together and there are clubs which represent expat residents to some extent. Sin City has expat clubs whose purpose is not just social gatherings, but advancing the interests of expats. Weekly meetings are held where long-time expats speak and answer questions relating to their area of expertise. Thais in positions of power such as ranking government officials are sometimes invited to give presentations and receive and answer questions. Relationships are nurtured with these people of influence in the hope that the position of foreigners benefits.
But there is discord between Pattaya's expat clubs which is representative of foreigners nationwide. Some clubs are said to promote the interests of certain members, some of whom have been described as nefarious characters and who serious allegations have been made against.
If such groups exist in Bangkok they have done a lousy job of promoting themselves.
The Foreign Correspondents Club is Bangkok-based and addresses issues and concerns that affect Farangdom as a whole, but it's all very much though the eyes of reporters and journalists, less about the common man.
There are organisations affiliated to our homelands such as the New Zealand Society. It has been my experiences that these groups can be rather insular, are often run by the wives of expats from that country and, amazingly for Bangkok, can border on puritanical.
There is a lack of leadership for Westerners in Thailand and I wonder if this is part of the reason that we are so splintered, some would even say divided. Expat society is cliquey. Even upcountry, in some village there may be home a handful of foreigners but they don't mix. Why is that? Mistrust? Foreigners living in a Thai village have more in common with each other than they do with their Thai neighbours, family and even their Thai partner.
In our homeland we get cues from politicians, the media – from newsreaders to talkback radio hosts to columnists – to our friends, neighbours and even the authorities. We speak the same language, we know the laws and we understand how society works and where we fit in. In Thailand many foreign residents barely speak enough of the local lingo to direct a taxi driver so how can they hope to know what is going on around them. They have no idea of their rights nor do they have anyone to turn to in a crisis. Many foreigners resident in Thailand blindly amble through life, utterly dependant on their Thai other half, not really knowing what is going on around them nor even what is being said.
The one and only media outlet that has the reach to promote the position of Westerners in Thailand is the largest online discussion forum. With a greater reach amongst foreigners than the local newspapers and TV I believe many (perhaps subconsciously) look to it for leadership. What they get is a forum riddled with schadenfreude and sanctimoniousness. A great opportunity is wasted.
With little in the way of local English language radio and TV, those with a digital media presence are often turned to.
Do these foreigners realise the leadership role and the influence they may have? Many of their followers – be they readers, viewers or listeners – often tune in looking for their take on current issues. They are looking for informed opinion, and perhaps even looking for guidance.
But across the local Internet landscape few are willing to take the real risks that come with speaking your mind. Self-censorship is rife amongst Thailand website owners – and vital if one wishes to maintain a local web presence.
One man who stands out as willing to speak his mind is Phil, the owner of Ajarn.com, who I have long admired as an advocate for foreign teachers in Thailand. Phil speaks his mind and takes a stand on certain issues. He calls things as he sees them while carefully managing not to step over the line.
Richard Barrow provides sensible advice on what is happening in Thailand and is always willing to help when asked, but like many long-term expats, Barrow knows there are limits to what you can say and how it can be said.
There have been numerous times I'd love to have said more about certain issues, but this site's position of keeping tabs on the seedy underbelly of Bangkok means I have to be measured. I am tolerated – but speaking out more than I already do might be imprudent.
Long term residents know that speaking out against policy in such a way as to promote the interests of foreigners in Thailand may not endear you to the authorities, even if done in a balanced and rational manner. Taking a stand on issues or using terms such as anti-foreigner to describe any Thai could result in a backlash that could get nasty and one's position could quickly become untenable.
Some commentators often make points subtly, in nuanced words lost on anyone but a native speaker. Farang businessman and celebrity Andrew Biggs, probably the most popular Caucasian in all of Thailand, makes subtle points in his excellent column.
The editor of the Big Chilli magazine, another long-term expat who is respected by many Thais, has also written some insightful editorials over the years, but like Biggs he is very much aware of the limitations and the parameters in which successful farang must operate within.
Is the lack of leadership and any genuine advocacy groups a failing of foreigners in Thailand who contribute much yet often feel like second class citizens?
For years the foreign consuls on Phuket had regular meetings with the head honcho of the island where they raised their concerns about various issues affecting expats and foreign visitors. Some have since spoken about how they became increasingly exasperated, about how the message was greeted with nods….but little more than lip service.
Is it futile to think that the position of foreigners in Thailand can genuinely be advanced?
We contribute so much to the country and many foreigners adopt Thailand as their own, some even going as far to turn their back on their homeland. While it is a bit much to expect this to be reciprocated, it would be nice if our contributions were acknowledged. For this to happen there needs to be greater leadership within the farang community.
Where will that leadership come from? Who is going to stand up for Farangdom?
Last week's photo was taken of the car park connecting bridge of Sino-Thai Tower on the soi connecting Sukhumvit soi 21 / Rachadapisek Road with Sukhumvit soi 23. After only a few people got it right, here's an easy one this week!
FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.
EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Why is the farang always seen as the bad guy?
I was working for a US company in Thailand, contracted via a Singapore company and had a legitimate non-immigrant B multiple entry visa. To cut a long story short, when it expired and needed to be renewed, the Singapore company told my USA boss they could get my visa cheaply and efficiently. They had a Thai legal company who would provide the documents for me to go to Laos to get a new visa. I received the docs via FedEx the day before I set off for Laos. Everything was in Thai so I had no clue what they had put together but it seemed a bit light. I called the number on the FedEx sender's label but no-one answered. My USA boss was assured by our Singaporean counterpart it was all good so I went ahead with the trip. I went to the Thai embassy in Laos and was refused. They said that they needed more information on the company I worked for. When they said the name of the company I was baffled but kept my mouth shut as it was not the company I worked for! I contacted my boss to tell the Singaporeans to get their lawyers to send me more info on the company. I also told him of my concerns, but we were assured again it was all legit. I decided to send a few pages of the docs to a friend back in Bangkok to translate for me. I was told that apparently I was an elderly Taiwanese national who was a manager of a Taiwanese paint factory looking to open up a new factory in Petchaburi province! Since none of this applied to me, I had no clue what to do! The Thai legal company called me to tell me that if the embassy had any more questions that the embassy should call them directly and they would explain to the staff to grant me the visa. Whatever was sent or discussed worked to a degree – because I was given a 3-month visa – but not the 12 months promised. I reverted to going back to USA to get a visa from the Thai consulate there. My company was charged a good fee by this Thai legal firm. It looked like it was a legit application that they were copying and using for others – and used it to get a few thousand dollars. Hopefully the Thais will look within their own business community for these kind of operations as well but I doubt it since it's just farangs that are the baddies!
Is the writing on the wall?
I have enjoyed the last 2 columns and the description of the ongoing plight of many foreigners. This week's is particularly relevant. With all the various methods of avoiding and circumventing the law, people must realise that sooner or later the good times will come to an end. People with any common sense or logic understand that something that is too good to be true cannot go on forever. People who say that this time it's different only have to look at all the recessions and stock market crashes to see that no, this time is not different. People who are so enamoured with Thailand to the point of obsession only have themselves to blame for being thrown out and barred from re-entry. If they had been smart they would have set up 2 places to live. One in a neighbouring country and one in Thailand and they could have split their time 50 – 50, or even 75 – 25, been legal, and flown under the radar. Some people just refuse to see the writing on the wall and deny their wrong-doing as the authorities drag them away.
No fan of the gogos.
Of all of the drinking establishments – expat bars, beer bars and gogo bars – the latter is my least favourite type of venue. Born in the mid '60s, my thoughts on such places (prior to my first trip to Bangkok) were dancers on individual podiums, dressed and wiggling away to the Stones, the Animals etc. And in many regards, similar to the dancers I have seen in the Med and in particular the Balearics. There, however, the dancers are very good and more importantly, seem to enjoy the vibe. The gogo bars in Bangkok, I would suggest, are more akin to a contemporary slave market where as often as not those on the stage look so bored as to draw pity rather than flirtation or any spirited enthusiasm towards them. It is for that reason I prefer to chat with the service staff who at least hold on to a vague element of sanuk. The whole setup doesn't just need a revamp but a total change and not least the cringeworthy "shows". To that add throwing ping pong balls on to the stage and the shower / Jacuzzi episodes. The owners of these places need to realise that titillation is now just a mouse click away and free / zero baht. If they need to draw punters in and pay what is now quite a sum of cash (even by Western terms), they need to think well beyond the traditional Bangkok-fare and inject a difference. Fun is where it's at for the well travelled customer(s) and this is rare in the gogo bars.
Bangkok's naughty nightlife future.
As happened in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and other places that once had very transactional scenes, economic development lifted prices out of Cheap Charlie range and caused most customers to move on. Coyote dancers are a worrisome trend. The bar outsources the recruiting headaches, we get another middleman wanting a profit and prices climb ever higher. What's in it for the customer? Seems like a manifestation of tables turning with the labour market, with the root cause as long-term development.
My main reason for the regret of the length of time I stayed in Thailand is that living in Thailand is like being drunk. Everything feels surreal and out of the ordinary. It's not real life – it's just a superficial alternative reality, and one that is incredibly addictive for those with little worth returning home for. Also, in my experience, most Westerners there get by on what they are, not who they are or what skills they have, including being a novelty figure, much like many a katoey gets by on being a novelty character. The katoeys came from a different sex to live as a woman, and the Westerners came from a different culture to live as a farang. When one goes home, the knowledge and survival skills developed there are next to useless.
Not everyone should teach.
Walking around the central market in Phnom Penh, I fall in step and conversation with a farang gent in his mid 40's. He had an accent you could cut with a saber. I could barely make out what he's saying. Maybe every tenth word. Finally I determine the fellow is from Scotland. I ask what he's doing in Cambodia and he replies, "Teaching English."
Great bar memories.
I remember going to Pretty Lady Bar in the '90s. It was a great bar and then the following trip they were doing renovations. I couldn't understand why but I guess it paid off in the end. It was really never the same for me but one standout memory, the Loy Kratong holiday. All the girls on stage were in the colourful traditional outfits with their hair and makeup to the nines. One exception, the dresses were cut to mini-skirts. Brilliant! Suffice to say I was responsible for one less dancer on stage.
A full, unimpeded view is back at Nana and those silly stick on stars are a thing of the past, allowing Nana to compete on an even keel with Cowboy.
But at Patpong everyone's covered up. It's not getting any easier for bar bosses down at the Pong where 2 AM closing is being strictly enforced as are all of the regulations bar owners need to operate within such as ensuring staff are of appropriate age and nationality. Patpong bars are under such scrutiny that all staff must wear knickers – a short skirt alone is not enough – there has to be something underneath. Being knickerless in a bar is just not Thai! No doubt this latest crackdown – pun not intended – ( does any word appear more often in this column?) at Patpong is related to events of last week when a military man found himself in trouble for alleged irregular dealings with vendors, and so Patpong finds itself in the spotlight.
When the two biggest bar groups in Bangkok cannot make Nana Disco work, can anyone? The Nana Group tried and failed, as did Eclipse. Nana Disco, Nana Liquid, Mai Peng Disco….it doesn't matter what the neon outside says, or the style of music played, every effort to revitalise the once thriving freelancer pickup joint has failed. The current owners seem to have finally accepted that resurrecting that property will require more than a change of name or format and have shelved the plans they had to reopen under a new guise. Nana Disco is on the market again and I predict that the current owners will probably have to give it away. That location just doesn't seem to work any more.
Patpong soi 1 looks less and less like a red light area – and more like a shopping area and tourist night market than ever, largely due to the state of the neon outside and above the bars. Is there such a thing as neonitus, whereby when one neon sign fails to work the disease jumps to the next? There must be because much of the neon in Patpong's main soi is dead, yet the bars remain open.
After 28 years at Goldfinger, Randy is very much a part of the bar and it just won't be the same without him. Thursday, August 14th will be Randy's last day in charge of the classic Patpong soi 1 bar this week. Do stop by and wish him the best.
Captain Hornbag will celebrate his birthday at Playskool on Nana Plaza's ground floor, this coming Saturday, August 16th. The fun starts at 8 PM with sexy girls with pigtails and there will be free Black crack shots which sound awfully interesting! PlaySkool has a great bunch of girls at the moment so even if you don't know the captain, do pop by!
The new look Crossbar on the same soi as last week's photo of the week – which connects Sukhumvit sois 21 and 23 – pub reopened yesterday but the official grand opening will be next Saturday, August 16th with a free buffet from 7:30, cold beers and it will coincide with the start of the Premier League season.
A reminder that the first Nanapong dance contest in years will be held at Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy, next Sunday, August 17th. Doors open at 7:30 PM and there's a good chance it's going to be busy so it would be a good idea to get there early.
Margarita Storm opened this past week at the corner of Sukhumvit soi 13. It's a 24-hour restaurant and bar with good food at reasonable prices and almost a dozen margaritas to choose from. Do try the onion rings which have to be the best in Bangkok!
Down in Pattaya, Windmill, in Soi Diamond, has long been known as a bar where wild antics are the norm, was visited by the boys in brown for the second occasion in recent times. Some staff were taken away and given a rap on the knuckles. Two visits in quick succession suggests someone has pissed someone off!
This coming Friday night, August 15th, Heaven Above in Soi Diamond will celebrate the bosses' & Mamasan Nong's birthdays. This will be a big night, combining 3 birthdays in one. There will be 50 baht happy hours from 7:30 – 9:30 PM, a free BBQ, Thai food, ice cream and a few other dishes starting at 9 PM. And the special attraction will be the Penthouse Pets from Bangkok! There also will be lucky door prizes and a few other surprises.
I note that Champagne in Soi LK Metro was in darkness last night. What was that all about? Were they also visited by the constabulary?
And speaking of Soi LK Metro, there is a feeling that the goings on are rather more modest than they once were, which when you look at the bigger picture of all that is going on in Thailand is really no great surprise.
The bar industry doesn't always get a good rap these days and there's a lot of looking to the past with envy of how things used to be. But memory is selective and much has improved. When guys married off these girls – something I am convinced just isn't as common these days – some found themselves told they had to pay a 10,000 baht girl release fee which, depending on the bar, was presented as anything from a lifetime barfine for that girl meaning if things didn't work out she could return to the bar, or it was compensating the bar for the cost of employing her in the first place which of course is a total nonsense. This fee was one big scam, not enforceable – and in many cases the 10K baht was simply split between the mamasan and the girl herself. You don't hear much about this scam any more, in fact I cannot remember the last time I even heard someone complaining about a bar trying it on. Or maybe it's just that so few guys are marrying bargirls these days?
The Comedy Club Bangkok is scheduled to open next month, with the owner saying it will be Bangkok's only dedicated English language comedy venue. It will be situated above The Royal Oak pub on Sukhumvit soi 33/1.
Not a day goes past without comment in the press about how the military government is cracking down on this or that. There have been numerous reports out of Phuket about how illegal structures that encroach on public land or were built on the beach have been torn down. Demonstrating that they really are serious, the authorities tore down two houses in Korat that were in the name of the wife of the former head of the DSI (basically Thailand's equivalent of the FBI). The military government says it is serious about cleaning up corruption and righting wrongs. If they really want to lay down a marker, will they do anything about the apparently illegal dwellings along Pattaya's Walking Street? Apparently, pretty much everything on the seaward side of Walking Street is illegal. If they really were serious, would they be prepared to level all of those structures, from the start of Walking Street all the way along to the Bali Hai Pier? If they really wanted people to sit up and take notice and see that they were serious, that would be one way to do it! Now I am certainly not suggesting that they actually do this, but the question that has to be asked is just how far are they prepared to go? This is all not beyond the realms of possibility.
With Immigration taking a close look at some residents' passports, many foreigners who had been resident in Thailand using visa waiver stamps have found themselves in need of an actual visa i.e. a visa issued by a Thai embassy or consulate outside the country. Reports from Thai embassies and consulates in neighbouring countries are that large numbers of foreigners have been applying for said visas these past couple of weeks with lengthy queues and long waits of many hours, no fun given that the waiting area is often outside in the tropical heat. The hot spot is said to be the Thai embassy in Vientiane where every day the queue is said to number several hundred people. Some estimates have it that it might even hit a thousand or more some days. If you are heading to Laos for a new visa, you're advised to head to the embassy early. The Thai embassy in Singapore is also said to be very busy and receiving many more visa applications than usual. Singapore's orderliness has rubbed off on the Thai mission which employs a queue system where you have to make sure you are in the correct queue – which is dependent on the type of visa you're applying for. Those applying for a tourist visa join one queue and those after a non-immigrant B visa join another. I bet that this coming Wednesday when the Thai missions reopen (Monday and Tuesday are public holidays in Thailand so Thai missions are closed worldwide) it is going to be bedlam. If you are applying for a new visa, keep in mind that every consulate and embassy has different service standards in terms of how long it takes for a visa to be issued, what documents are required and even the types of visas they do and don't issue. Vientiane would appear to be the current favourite which is probably because it is the least expensive to get to.
We wait in anticipation for Wednesday, the day the Immigration Department previously announced that the crackdown on those coming and going on back to back visa waiver stamps would commence. In fact Immigration has been much more stringent in recent months and some travellers arriving in Thailand with a history of travel in and out of the country have found themselves asked questions. While the initial announcement was specifically related to visa waiver stamps, many are wondering if they take a closer look at those with a history of coming and going on tourist visas or non-immigrant visas. The initial announcement did not mention other class of visa – but that does not mean that they won't scrutinise travellers more closely. It would be an interesting week to be a fly on the wall at the airport! Thailand has always been very relaxed and taken a laid-back approach to those with what could be reasonably described as a suspicious visa history. It's probably a good idea to make sure that you have documentation to support your reasons for visiting Thailand, over and above the visa. So if you're on a tourist visa, an itinerary or hotel bookings would help. If you hold a non-immigrant B visa, documents to show what sort of business you're doing. And remember that there are actually minimum amounts of cash you may be asked to show – 20,000 baht for those with a tourist visa and 40,000 baht for non-immigrant visa holders. Reports from travellers passing southern border checkpoints (which seem to be the strictest) have it that Immigration wants to see cash, not bank statements. While I have always found Immigration officials to be reasonable, if you have a suspicious visa history I would make sure I had plenty of cash to show, just to be safe.
The tightening up on the types of visas issued by Thai consulates in Australia has reached Perth which doesn't offer the full range of visas any more. Tourist visas and Non-Os appear to be ok, but apply for any other class of visa and apparently the paperwork is forwarded all the way over to the east coast to be processed, and then sent back to WA.
Bargirls have various ways of making money, some completely upfront and others a little more devious. Girls employed in a bar are paid a salary plus commission on lady drinks. Many are paid by the customers they keep company. But where the real money is made is from sponsors – those guys who think their girl has stopped working and is exclusive to them so he sends her money every month to support her. Some girls have a few guys sending them money. On the back of the immigration crackdown there may be a new opportunity to make money: legally marrying a foreigner so he qualifies for a long-stay visa. Don't laugh, I really do think there is a decent chance that this could happen, especially with those girls who don't make a lot of money. Whether this latest crackdown is like many and things will blow over in time, who knows? But it could be that some guys find themselves running out of options. Getting a visa extension based on marriage is easy – and it could be a money spinner for the girls. All she has to do is legally marry a guy. He gets a marriage certificate from which he can get a non-immigrant OA visa (so he can come and go every 3 months). There is no strict requirement for them to live together and no checks are carried out at their place of residence unless he applies for a one-year extension. Enterprising girls could command a lump sum in advance and a payment every month, say 5,000 baht or so. It used to be those from relatively poor countries keen to live in the West who paid a local citizen to marry them to circumvent the law, but now some guys are talking about this as an option as they become desperate to stay in Thailand. Oh, how the world has changed!
London may be a major financial centre, but when I hear a Brit in Bangkok say he is a broker, works in finance or banking, or is some sort of business analyst or anything like that, I immediately think, boiler room! Unless they are genuinely debonair, have the 5,000 baht shirt and the 10,000 baht shoes, Bangkok Brits in finance, well, many are boiler room boys, aren't they?!
Quote of the week comes from a reader, "The lord Buddha says change is inevitable…Thai Immigration seems to think so too!"
Reader's story of the week comes from Phet, "Peeking Above The Parapet".
A British father is looking for the 2 children he had with a Thai lady who has disappeared with them.
The Aussie couple Thailand surrogate baby case is getting press all over the world as the father's paedophile past is revealed.
An American is knifed in Pattaya after a heated exchange with a Thai motorcyclist.
A CNN opinion piece claims the military coup saved Phuket from ruin.
A Swede who killed a Kiwi in Pattaya 2 years ago and fled Thailand 2 months later is charged with murder by Swedish police.
Two Americans are robbed on Sukhumvit soi 15 at gunpoint, but the culprit, a taxi driver, is soon caught.
An airline magazine says leave George Orwell's 1984 at home and do not bring it to Thailand.
A Laotian woman returning to her homeland is stopped at the border with 30 million baht in cash in her car.
Ask Sunbelt Asia Legal
Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department directly for all of your legal needs.
Question 1: Is it possible to put two people's names on a Bangkok condo lease?
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds:It is possible to have more than one name on the lease. There is no law prohibiting two names on a lease.
Question 2: Leaving aside the moral question of drink driving, what is the legal position of vehicles being stopped at random at police checkpoints after committing no apparent offence, being asked if they have been drinking and then being subject to breathalyser checks and interviews at a roadside desk, even if those drivers have not been drinking?
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: The driver is required to cooperate with officers at police checkpoints. These checkpoints are authorised by the government and supervised by the Police Station's senior ranking officer. The checkpoint must meet standard protocols (i.e. stop signs, sufficient lighting, superior's contact number, and other warning signs). They are legally allowed to not only test for drunk driving but also search the vehicle for illegal goods such as drugs or weapons.
Question 3: I worked in Thailand from July, 2011, through to December, 2012. My Thai income tax was paid as a deduction of my salary. In February, 2012, I was told that I was entitled to a tax return and I filled in the appropriate forms and received a small return (7,600 THB) a couple of weeks later by cheque from the Thai Revenue Dept. In December, 2012, when I was laid off due to the sale of the multinational branch of my company to a local interest, I was told by my former employer that I am again entitled to tax returns. I took copies of my pay slips to my local amphur Revenue Department and the lady kept copies and told me to return after a few days. When I did she told me that I was not entitled to tax returns, but that I should pay about 43,000 THB! This is probably due to incentive bonuses given to me by my company. She enquired if I was still employed and I said no, as my employment had been terminated and my work permit cancelled. She said that the next time I came to work in Thailand I should settle this prior to getting a new work permit and job, and there was no need to settle this right away, since I was unemployed. I left Thailand in February 2013 and have not returned since. I wonder if I would be considered by the Thai authorities as a suspect for tax evasion. Please kindly advise.
Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers responds: All tax should have been settled at the time of filing for the year 2012, but you do have two options. You can quickly settle the outstanding tax and late penalty fine with interest when you return to Thailand. Alternatively you can assign someone to act on your behalf, providing them with all the necessary filing records and they will settle the outstanding tax bill. Once filed, they would send the completed filing back to you so that you can show it to Immigration should they stop you on your return to Thailand. This is the course of action that Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors would recommend as it ensures that your tax bill does not mount with growing fines and interest and that you will have no difficulties upon returning to Thailand. Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors has an experienced accounting team that could act on your behalf in determining tax owed and assist you in settling the bill.
The great immigration crackdown remains the talk of the town with August 12th – the date the crackdown is supposed to start proper – just a couple of days away. Thailand's immigration rules may have been enforced in a lax manner for as long as anyone can remember but it's unrealistic to expect that to continue forever. Part of the reason for this is that the issuance of visas is managed by Foreign Affairs whereas entry to the country is controlled by the Immigration Department, part of the police. In many Western countries the issuance of visas and entry to the country is controlled by the same government department. If one day the system changes so that the issuing of visas and the controlling of entry is managed by the same department we will (hopefully) see greater clarity and consistency – which are sorely missed under the current system. I am of the belief that it won't be too far away and when it happens, all the remaining loopholes will be plugged. For those who are using one trick or other to stay long-term in Thailand, enjoy your ease of entry while you can!
Your Bangkok commentator,