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Phuket Opinion: On the cards

PHUKET: The new system of ‘yellow cards’ and ‘red cards’ for law-breaking foreigners in Phuket announced by the regional Immigration chief this past week is a cause for concern – but not because Immigration is looking to take action against foreigners caught wantonly flouting the law.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 5 March 2023, 09:00AM

Police last week tracked down and charged yet another tourist who was among a group on motorbikes causing a public nuisance and driving dangerously on the streets of Patong. Photo: Patong Police

Police last week tracked down and charged yet another tourist who was among a group on motorbikes causing a public nuisance and driving dangerously on the streets of Patong. Photo: Patong Police

As Phuket Immigration Chief Col Thanet Sukchai clarified to The Phuket News this week, under the system foreigners will be issued a ‘yellow card’ for less serious offences, with two yellow cards amounting to a red card and deportation. Red cards mean deportation and a ‘more difficult’ entry process if the foreigner tries to return in the future.

First, with regard to the ‘red cards’, there is nothing new about foreigners caught breaking the law being deported for serious offences. They are charged, have the chance to present their case in court and with the most serious charges serve their court-mandated sentence and are then deported – just like in any other country.

But the ‘yellow cards’ are more concerning. These include public nuisance charges such as those brought against many of the ‘miscreants on motorbikes’ in Patong last month.

When it came to the motorbike mayhem in Patong, no one argued with the action taken by police. If anything, the complaints mostly focussed on why it took police so long to start cracking down on the motorbike riding behaviour by the tourists, which amounted to public endangerment. That is cause enough to step in for the greater good.

Several of those who took part in the mass motorbike rally last month were even deported after other antics committed by some of the same group were also considered, Col Thanet confirmed to The Phuket News.

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Police have already long had the power to take action in these cases, and Immigration has always had the right to revoke a foreigner’s permit to stay and have the foreigner deported. Just think ‘Brits behaving badly’ and the sentiment is understood.

The real concern is the leverage a corrupt officer out on the street will have when he snares a foreigner now facing a potential second ‘yellow card’. Col Thanet is right that this where cards will be considered on a case-by-case basis. They need to be – but the decision must not be the sole decision of the officer on the street.

It’s bad enough if the minor offence comes down to an officer’s word, and while the Immigration Bureau itself has more than 100 of its own officers under investigation in one corruption case alone, there is no way they can just say, “Trust us.”

The Immigration Bureau, its officers in Phuket alone or elsewhere throughout the country, can issue yellow and red cards all it likes. It changes nothing in terms of enforcing the law, but making this system formal policy only causes more headaches and more opportunities for extortion by corrupt officers.

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Capricornball | 05 March 2023 - 21:32:37

With the RTP under fire lately, they are being forced to take drastic measures to maintain their corrupt nature. Seems they've chosen to write sh--ty laws that give them the latitude to up the stakes so that foreigners will have to pay dearly or face deportation. The cops are as bad, or worse than the french miscreants. I'm all for gutting the RTP and turning things over to the military.

Fascinated | 05 March 2023 - 13:14:00

Motorbike mayhem continues. A your white foreigner has been up and down the Kamala Drag Strip at least 10 times today casing a disturbance but not a cop in sight. I would be quite happy for a red card to be issued. Young, dumb, and full of *** as we used to say. Hopefully natural selection will occur without him injuring or killing others.

Nasa12 | 05 March 2023 - 10:22:12

What must be stopped immediately is that the police get 65% of the fines they issue, and the local Government gets 30%, the rest 5% goes up to Bangkok.

Nasa12 | 05 March 2023 - 10:17:21

This it’s only new road for RTP to scam money out from tourists. 

Kurt | 05 March 2023 - 09:35:47

Fine PN Opinion article. Now we look forward for a motorbike tourist who drives through a underpass, seeing the very small sign 'not allowed' to late, stopped by RTP, and gets the choice: A yellow card + B500 fine, or a 'fine' of B5.000 . Great viral social media times ahead.

JohnC | 05 March 2023 - 09:11:52

Perhaps officials caught for corruption, rather than the usual 'transferred to inactive posts', should get the card system too. Yellow card if caught once, suspended without pay until court case heard. Red card means sacked, locked up and assets seized to pay back what they took illegally. Something to think about Mr PM...

christysweet | 05 March 2023 - 09:10:12

French, Russian, British,.. blah blah... In bad dangerous driving,  the common denominator is male, but  that's not allowed to be pointed out  for some reason.   


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