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Foreign businesses criticise Thailand immigration TRACKING

Foreign businesses criticise Thailand immigration TRACKING

The organization representing the foreign business community in Thailand has broken its silence on a decision by the country’s

Immigration Bureau to fully apply an onerous immigration law that dates back to 1979.

For months, foreigners working and residing in Thailand have been venting about dramatically increased immigration reporting requirements under a regulation known as TM30.

But it was not until late last week that the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of Thailand (JFCCT) issued a statement on the urgent need for a rethink.

The umbrella body also sent a letter of “concerns and recommendations” to Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda.

“Ease of doing business is a hallmark of any nation’s attractiveness for trade, investment and tourism,” said Stanley Kang, the JFCCT’s Taiwanese chairman. “TM30 is undoing those good achievements. Our neighbors do not have this continuous tracking requirement.”

TM30 is intended to closely monitor the movements of foreigners.

The regulation requires house owners, landlords or hotel managers who accommodate visitors from overseas to notify immigration authorities within 24 hours of the person’s arrival.

The decision to apply it after four decades in abeyance has baffled foreign businesspeople, long-term expatriates, students and retirees.

The chairman of the JFCCT, which comprises 33 chambers with 9,000 member companies, questioned the

Immigration Bureau’s rationale that the more stringent reporting requirements will be effective in combating crime and terrorism.

“This particular form does not seem to be the best way to do this as it relies on self-disclosure,” Kang said.

Kang noted that those with business visas and work permits already disclose their places of residence and work.

They are also still required to reconfirm their residential address every 90 days at an immigration office using another reporting form, the TM47.

The commander of Immigration Division 1 said the bureau was making efforts to ease the burden on foreigners.

“Some of the rules may not be modern, but we are trying,” Police Maj. Gen. Patipat Suban Na Ayudhya told Khaosod English.

“We will not always be million-year-old turtles, but in terms of the law, we have no power to change it. It’s not under our authority… if you want change, you have to change the law.”

David Lyman, a U.S. lawyer and former president of the American Chamber of Commerce, said that police officer were not to blame for the situation.

“Publicly they cannot criticize this law, or their superiors who command them to enforce it and who do have the power to modify it,” he wrote in a group email.