Thai News

2018

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Reaping what they sow...

Thailand responds to a decline in tourists by offering them better visa terms


Link Here 16th November 2018
The Thai military government has agreed in principle to back measures to stimulate Thailand's tourism in the early high season.

Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said the Cabinet gave the green light for the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Passport Privileges from November 15 until January 15, 2019.

Nattaporn Jatusripitak, adviser to the Prime Minister's Office, said that the Cabinet agreed in principle to review and offer relaxation to three types of visas with a two-month pilot period.

Firstly, a single-entry visa will be allowed to be changed into a double-entry visa with travel required within six months at the same fee of Bt1,000 per person.

The Cabinet also approved a re-entry permit to facilitate foreign tourists who visit Thailand's neighbouring countries to return to Thailand without making another request. The re-entry permit for the rest of the visa will help promote tourism in Thailand and Asean and satisfy this group of foreign tourists.

The Interior Ministry regulation will be amended to allow foreigners who receive a visa waiver for 30 days and travel into Thailand via land immigration checkpoints or land border checkpoints to enter the country with an unlimited number of visa waivers per calendar year.

 

 

Updated: Seeing the cash...

From 2019 annual retirement and marriage visa extensions must be qualified by showing money or income in a Thai bank rather than by letter from one's embassy


Link Here 15th November 2018
From 1 January 2019, the British Embassy Bangkok will no longer be providing British Nationals with letters confirming their income.

This letter has previously served as a supporting document for obtaining a Thai retirement or marriage visa.

British Nationals should now demonstrate that they have an amount of at least 800,000 Baht in an account in Thailand for no less than three months prior to the visa application, or a monthly income of at least 65,000 Baht transferred into an account in Thailand for a retirement visa. The same applies to marriage visa albeit with lower requirements of 400,000 Baht lump sum, or a monthly income of 40,000 Baht.

Although this is an announcement from the British Embassy, it seems that other countries are likely to follow suit.

Update: Unilateral action

10th October 2018. See article from thaivisa.com

It has been pointed out that although the British Embassy states that income or capital requirements for visa extensions can demonstrated by Thai bank statements showing the required monies, Thai Immigration has never so far agreed to this method. In fact as it stands at the moment, a letter from the embassy is just about the only proof of finance that Thai Immigration will accept.

Presumably it is not just about the money, Thai Immigration would like to know a little more about where it comes from, so as to avoid simple workarounds such as getting a loan.

But of course with the complexity of people's financial arrangements around the world, then Thai Immigration may realise that neither they, nor embassies can adequately verify people's finances. So how will this end up.

Update: #MeToo: US Embassy also ends income verification support

27th October 2018.

The US Embassy has just written to US citizen's resident in Thailand to announce an end to its support for income verification required for people staying in Thailand using the minimum income qualification for annual visa extensions. The embassy writes:

U.S. Mission in Thailand to Cease Providing Income Affidavit

October 26, 2018

Bangkok, THAILAND

As of January 1, 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok and the U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai will cease to provide the income affidavit for the purpose of applying for Thai retirement and family visas and will not notarize previous versions of the income affidavit. The Royal Thai Government requires actual verification of income to certify visa applicants meet financial requirements for long-stay visas. The U.S. government cannot provide this verification and will no longer issue the affidavits.

Please consult the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, D.C. and Royal Thai Immigration Bureau websites for information on how to meet the requirements for a Thai retirement visa or extension.

There's still no indication that Thai Immigration will accept evidence of income without being underpinned by an Embassy letter.

Update: #MeToo: Australian Embassy also ends income verification support

2nd November 2018.

The Australian Embassy has now joined the UK and US embassies, it announced that from the 7th January 2019 it will no longer witness Statutory Declarations for proof on income for Thai Visa extensions.

Update: #MeToo: Danish Embassy also ends income verification support but with immediate effect

15th November 2018. See article from thaivisa.com

The Danish Embassy has announced that it is stopping pension letter services for one-year visas with immediate effect

The Embassy in Bangkok can no longer issue income certificates/pension letters as a supporting document for obtaining a one-year visa through the Thai authorities.

This is due to the fact that the Embassy in Bangkok is legally unable to fulfil the Thai authorities' requirements to guarantee the future level of pension/income for Danish Nationals.

 

 

Something stinks...

Thailand to extend no smoking zones 5 metres into the street from the entrances to a long list of buildings


Link Here 7th November 2018
New regulations issued by Thailand's Department of Public Health will force smokers to stay well away from all sorts of public buildings and public areas.

There will be a five meter radius exclusion zone from any entrances or exits to:

condos, rental buildings, pubs, hotels, religious buildings, karaoke establishments, restaurants, laundries, salons, cinemas, parking areas, spas, areas for Thai massage, clinics, hospitals, schools, swimming pools, fitness parks, clinics and other places.

The new regulations will come into force in 90 days. Thai media has reported that victims caught contravening the new regulations will be fined 5,000 baht.

 

 

Offsite Article: Order threatens Bangkok's charm...


Link Here 8th September 2018
Prayut is santising Bangkok, one reason given for the cleanup was to liberate Bangkok from a 'disorderly', 'antiquated', 'undeveloped' look.

See article from nationmultimedia.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Nothing doing during the day...


Link Here 4th September 2018
Bangkok authorities are sticking with their plan to sanitise Khao San Road

See article from thaivisa.com

 

 

Work permits now permit more work...

Details about relaxed work permit rules


Link Here 30th August 2018
T hailand had made major changes to the rules regarding work permits and its foreign labour law. The changes, which were introduced on March 27 2018 and saw Thailand relax some of its laws regarding work permits, including reducing the penalties for foreigners found working without work permits. For example, foreigners can no longer be sent to jail for working without a work permit.

Also scrapped was the rarely enforced requirement that all foreigners who come to Thailand to attend meetings, seminars or sports competitions need a work permit.

Arguably the most significant change was that the Decree states that a foreigner who has work permit in Thailand can now work anywhere and for anyone and carry out work not listed in the description on their work permit, providing it is not excluded under the list of occupations prohibited to foreigners.

There's a new narrower definition of "work":

Engaging in any profession, with or without an employer, but excluding operation of business of a licensee under the Foreign Business Law

The maximum penalty for working without work permit is reduced to a fine of THB 5,000 to 50,000 and to be deported from the country

There was no reference to the recent changes covering people who "work for themselves".

See full details in article from thaivisa.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Thaivisa Expat Survey 2018...


Link Here 3rd August 2018
There are less expats arriving in Thailand than ever before and a significant amount of working expats under 60 years have now left Thailand

See article from thaivisa.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Permitting more...


Link Here 30th July 2018
A new decree provides more flexibility to work permit holders about what work they can do and where

See article from thephuketnews.com

 

 

Holiday Weekend...

Dry days and bank holidays


Link Here 21st July 2018
Thursday 26th July. Bars are asked to close at midnight.

Friday 27th July Asarnha Bucha Day Buddhist special day. Bars closed.

Saturday 28th July Khao Pansa . Buddhist Lent Day + King's Birthday. Bars closed. The bars are allowed to open after midnight, and some will.

Monday 30th July . Public holiday. Bars open

 

 

Just a bag in the ocean...

Thailand asks market traders to cut down on the plastic bags


Link Here 19th July 2018
Thailand has announced its latest D-Day in the war against litter. The environment minister General Surasak Kanjanarat is declaring a war on plastic bags starting 21st July 2018.

Surasak said that the country uses 45 billion bags a year of which 40% are used at fresh food markets. His campaign will be snappily titled Doing good from the heart. Less Taking, Less Giving, Less Using Plastic Bags.

Signage will be going up at 7,000 markets nationwide. The aim is to reduce plastic bag usage by 20% by next year. There is also a target to reduce foam container usage by 10% by 2019.

No mention of the campaign extending to convenience stores and supermarkets though.

 

 

Reducing the fat of the land...

Thailand will ban sales of margarine and products that contain it from January of next year


Link Here 17th July 2018
Thailand will ban trans fats from January 8 next year, six months after the Public Health Ministry implemented a ministerial regulation to ban the production, import, and sale of products with partially hydrogenated oils. Those oils are the main source of trans fats, and medical researchers say their elimination will reduce people's risk of cardiovascular disease.

The main product affected will be margarine and of course the bakery and cafe trade. A food-industry expert says the government action could lead to chaos in small bakeries and dairy beverage businesses. Nutritionist Sanga Damapong on Sunday said trans fats can be found in crispy snacks, french fries, cookies, shortening, margarine, non-dairy creamers and dry fast foods.

Sanga said trans fats, a type of unsaturated fat, were first industrially produced from vegetable fats 50 to 60 years ago. They greatly reduce the cost of manufacturing some food products while extending their shelf-life, eliminating odour and arguably making food tastier.

 

 

Dangerous Thailand...

Thailand tops the chart for travel insurance claims


Link Here 20th June 2018
Thailand is always top of polls and charts about dangerous holiday destinations. No doubt there are more dangerous places, but then people don't go there on holiday. Thailand is the most likely place in the world where British visitors are likely to do be killed, but before you jump to conclusions about guns and murder, the most likely causes are death are more to do with motorbikes in conjunction with alcohol.

Now Thailand has been found to be the world's riskiest holiday destination for British tourists, according to a new report from UK firm Endsleigh Insurance Services. It looked at data from 2017, ranking countries on where the most insurance claims were made and Thailand came out on top.

The report found that Thailand accounted for 23% of travel insurance claims made in 2017 - more than any other country. Travel insurance claims included emergency medical expenses, damaged luggage and flight cancellations.

 

 

Offsite Article: Reality and the Denial of Sex Work in Thailand...


Link Here 11th June 2018
Salinee Chumsuwan, at the culture ministry said sex toys should not be legalized when there is no solid research supporting them, instead recommending that people who have urges should instead resort to meditation or sport

See article from khaosodenglish.com

 

 

Pay Point...

Thailand will introduce a points system for traffic penalties from next year


Link Here 10th June 2018
Police have said that the points system for driving offences will definitely be introduced in 2019.

In total drivers and riders have 12 points to play with each year before getting a ban.

  • Category one:  Minor 1 point offences such as no helmet or non-wearing of seat belts. That's one point.
  • Category two: Medium 2 point offences that includes going through red lights and going the wrong way on roads.
  • Category three is described as serious and includes drink driving, driving under the influence of drugs, speeding and fleeing the scene of an accident. For that you will get three points.

Collect 12 points in a year and you will suffer a 3 month ban.

Get 3 bans and you will be banned from driving for a year.

Get 12 points in a year again after that and you lose your licence for three years and have to make a new one thereafter.

The measures were announced by Pol Maj Gen Ekkarak Limsangkat who chairs a committee looking into changes in the traffic laws. A consultative meeting was attended by 500 members of the public in which the points system was revealed by the Maj Gen who said it would definitely come in next year, reported Daily News.

 

 

Fast track to Isaan...

Bangkok is building the biggest railway station is south east Asia that will service fast trains to Chiang Mai, Nong Khai and Pattaya


Link Here 2nd June 2018
A new train station in Bangkok is set to be the largest in Southeast Asia. Construction of Bang Sue Central Station is in progress and is scheduled to open in 2020.

The station, which is located near Bang Sue intersection on Thoet Damri road, will become the hub for Thailand's high speed rail links, from Bangkok to Nong Khai and Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

It will also be used for the proposed Eastern Economic Corridor high-speed rail line which will link three airports - Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao in Rayong, and which promises travel from Pattaya to Bangkok in less than one hour.

The new station will eventually replace the Hua Lamphong station, which has been Bangkok's primary train station since it opened in 1916.

 

 

Room for debate...

Thai authorities start to get heavy about room and property rentals of less than a month


Link Here 21st May 2018

The Thai authorities seem to be taking on people who offer short term lets on rooms, condos, or house, of less than a month. It is legal to privately rent property for periods of over a month but less than a month are only allowed in officially licensed hotels. Of course the licensing of hotels is very onerous and so is widely ignored.

The issue has perhaps been brought to a head by AirBnB as it provides a straightforward way for people to rent out their properties. hotels feel a bit challenged by the competition and so have been complaining to the authorities.

As is often the case in Thailand, these laws have been in existence for some time but the law has been loosely enforced with some condo developments around the country acting as defacto hotels and listing in many online booking websites.

This week says a court in Hua Hin ruled it was illegal for people to rent out their condos or rooms on a daily or weekly basis. While AirBnB was not specifically mentioned in the Hua Hin court case, the home-share system has grown to the point where Thailand's legally registered hotels are calling foul.

Earlier this month, authorities in Pattaya arrested seven individuals for operating what were described as illegal hotels (lacking permits or failure to abide reporting laws). Just one of the properties was an apartment building.

AirBnB in Thailand claims its service is legal but have been less than helpful when one a property owner posted on its website's community page a request for clarification. A year passed and no response.

The Immigration Department also have specific requirements of hotels to report any foreign guest's arrival. The unregistered properties fall through this reporting system making them a target of Thailand's strict Immigration requirements.

 

 

The Pattaya Sexpress...

A few details about the upcoming Bangkok to Pattaya railway


Link Here 28th March 2018
Basic times and prices have been announced for the confirmed high speed train linking U-Tapao airport with Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang in Bangkok.

The journey time between U-Tapao and the capital will be just 45 minutes. The cost of the journey will be just 330 baht. Speeds will reach 250 km per hour.

The train will stop five times from Bangkok at Chacherngsao, Chonburi, Sri Racha, Pattaya and U-Tapao.

A government ministerial meeting rubber-stamped the project yesterday.

 

 

Commented: Not so smart, sounds more like a prison island...

Thailand considers tagging all its tourists in Phuket, so it can keep a watchful eye on them


Link Here 19th March 2018
Thailand's popular resort of Phuket has an ambition to turn the island into a 'smart city', according to Thailand's digital economy minister.

The province may also develop an electronic wristband system for foreign tourists so their identity and location would be known in case of untoward incidents, said Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj.

He said the province has planned to develop the uses of wristbands to track tourists and to use Big Data to analyse information about tourists' habits.

He said the Phuket command centre would also link to all CCTVs on the island to work with face-recognition software to guard against crimes as well as to collect the data of tourists who use public boat services.

Comment: Alienation

19th March 2018. Thanks to Dave

Why are the Thai Authorities doing everything they can to Alienate Tourists and Expats.

Raiding Darts Clubs, Bridge Clubs, putting them in Gaol for Smoking on the Beach.

The Police are constantly stopping Tourists on Scooters looking for international Driving License's, which were never needed before.

Now wristbands to track Tourists movements, registering Mobile Phones with your Passport.

Thailand is turning into another North Korea, The sooner we have Elections and get rid of the Army the better.

 

 

'Welcome back Mr Jones, we see you have another new girlfriend, we've a special for you on condoms'...

7-Eleven convenience stores to snoop on customers using facial recognition technology


Link Here 17th March 2018
The convenience store 7-Eleven is rolling out artificial intelligence at its 11,000 stores across Thailand.

7-Eleven will use facial-recognition and behavior-analysis technologies for multiple purposes. The ones it has decided to reveal to the public are to identify loyalty members, analyze in-store traffic, monitor product levels, suggest products to customers, and even measure the emotions of customers as they walk around.

The company announced it will be using technology developed by US-based Remark Holdings, which says its facial-recognition technology has an accuracy rate of more than 96%. Remark, which has data partnerships with Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, has a significant presence in China.

The rollout at Thailand's 7-Eleven stores remains unique in scope. It could potentially be the largest number of facial-recognition cameras to be adopted by one company. No corporate entity is so entrenched in Thai lives, according to a report from Public Radio International. And that may be crucial not only to the success of facial recognition in 7-Eleven stores in Thailand, but across the region.

 

 

Commented Are you nuts?...

Thai Immigration set to require a psychological test for any farang wanting to marry a Thai


Link Here 24th February 2018
  Do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?... I do
Are you nuts?

A regulation change was issued by the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) head office in Bangkok in Aug 2017. The result was revealed this week after a farang contacted The Phuket News asking for clarification on why he was required to have a criminal history check so he could marry his Thai fiancee.

Specifically they are making farangs who are marrying Thais get a criminal record check and a personality profile check.

The criminal record check required farangs to be fingerprinted and these are run through checks with the Thai police. Apparently this is limited to Thailand and won't be pursed back to the farang's home country.

The thinking behind the move is that the Thai authorities think that they can root out a few 'bad guys' before letting them get their hands on a long term visa through marriage.

The DOPA issued another notice under the regulations of which it was specified that foreigners from any of 13 countries were recently being more commonly involved in wrongful marriage and family registration. The 13 countries haven't been named lest it causes them reputational damage.

The time taken for the certificate to be approved or rejected will depend on other circumstances surrounding the foreigner. This includes whether the foreigner has been here a long time, already have children with a Thai person, have businesses here, and so on. If a person is found to have a criminal record relating to drugs or breaking immigration laws, the office will refuse the marriage certificate.

The psychological testing required has not yet been detailed.

Comment: Fair's fair

5th March 2018. From Dick Farang

Re the article Are you nuts?... Thai Immigration set to require a psychological test for any farang wanting to marry a Thai , I have to mention that, for Thais to be granted a long term visa to the Schengen area (which covers most of Europe), one of the many conditions is to get a clearance from the Bangkok Police Headquarters on Henri Dunant Road, fingerprinting and mug shots included.

I guess that only a civil marriage is meant here, not a traditional wedding, usually concluded in front of a Hindu priest and in the presence of an odd number of Buddhist monks and ... a dowry.

 

 

I am not a number! I am a surveillance database entry...

Thailand asks developers to speed up its 'Foreigner Database' that will record the entries and exits of all foreigners, and require them to report to local police every time they change hotel or address


Link Here 15th February 2018
Thailand's Immigration Bureau and the Interior Ministry have been instructed to speed up the implementation of a single-platform online database of foreigners entering and leaving the kingdom. The two agencies were told to have the new system fully functioning in six months.

The order was given by the Deputy leader of Thailand's military governement, General Prawit Wongsuwan.

The single platform database would enable the government to keep tabs on all foreigners so that they can be easily located by the police.

As part of the new system, the Immigration Bureau will cancel the use of the Immigration 6 form and instead use e-passport data. A spokesman said each immigration checkpoint would be equipped with identity-checking equipment, such as fingerprint readers and passport scanners, to enter information into the database.

At the same time, the Interior Ministry's Provincial Administration Department must ensure that all hotels, apartments, guesthouses and other accommodation services keep and report records of foreigners using their services by informing the nearest immigration office or police station, which will in turn feed the data to the database. Foreigners also now have to report  to the local police or immigration every time they change hotel or where they stay whilst in Thailand.

 

 

Updated: Just down the road from Pattaya...

Thailand gets all frothed up about a sexy barista showing a bit of side boob


Link Here 4th February 2018
Photos posted to Facebook of a sexy waitress showing a bit of side boob at a coffee shop in Chon Buri's Sattahip district trigged a storm of criticism from mostly women.

The post, by a Facebook user Krua Sahapat-Laem Chabang at 7am Saturday, drew over 3,500 comments in five hours. It also drew over 21,000 reactions and was shared over 8,800 times in the five-hour period.

The photos show a beautiful young woman wearing underwear and no bras. She has covered her front with a barista saffron.

The coffee shop is called Coffee on Day but other parts of the video suggest that for most of the time the baristas are fully clad.

Update: In trouble

5th February 2018. See article from nationmultimedia.com

In a bit of an overreaction, Plu Ta Luang superintendent Pol Colonel Thanachai Usahakit said officers had already summoned the coffee shop owner and the models to report to police late on Sunday. He said the image could be a violation to the Computer Act because the images were uploaded to a computer accessible by the public.

Shop owner Prasong Sukkorn said he posted the ad with the intention to be sexy, not lewd or tarnishing to the society. The owner has now removed the clip and photos.

 

 

Perhaps a holiday in Thailand is not such a good idea......

Thailand is now enforcing a new law that allows for a year in prison for smoking on the beach


Link Here 2nd February 2018
Thailand has banned smoking on their top beaches citing litter from butt ends, which seems a bit rich when overlooking large amounts of plastic pollution that is washed up on beaches these days.

The country has banned smoking at 24 of the most popular beaches with foreign tourists.

Bannaruk Sermthong, director at the Office of Marine and Coastal Resources Management told Reuters : Starting today, smoking and cigarette-butt littering are prohibited on beach areas. Anyone who wants to smoke must do so in designated smoking areas, not on the beaches.

If you're found smoking on a beach you could be fined 100,000 baht (£2,243) and get a year in prison.

And it's not just cigarettes which are banned on Thai beaches.The country has also banned vaping entirely.

Oh and drinking beer on the beach is also prohibited

 

 

Causing a public embarrassment...

Bangkok police arrest film makers on Khao San Road for setting up a fake sex toys stall


Link Here 19th January 2018
Bangkok police have taken legal action against a film company for putting up a stall selling sex toys for filming purposes on Khao San Road.

The film makers had been given permission for the shooting of the Indian film Happy Bhag Jayegi Return on Khao San Road. According to the Bangkok Post the station gave permission because the company promised that the film-making would promote Thailand with a positive image.

From 9.30am to 11.30am on Wednesday the crew had women wear swimsuits and placed stalls of swimsuits and adult toy signs on the road. After being reported, local police halted the film-making.

Police charged the crew and the film producer with causing public embarrassment and untidiness, blocking a road, and showing pornographic materials.

The police quoted actresses as saying that the scene was supposed to take place in China, with no mentioning of Khao San Road.

Happy Bhag Jayegi Return (2018) is a sequel to the comic-caper of the same title made in 2011. Indian actresses Sonakshi Sinha and Diana Penty star in it.

 

 

A 15% hike in beer tax at GoGos...

Thailand introduces a new tax for alcohol served in bars or entertainment venues


Link Here 10th January 2018
Thailand has just introduced a significant new tax on alcohol served in bars, discos and GoGos.

tax hike details

 

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