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.
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.
Capricornball | 05 March 2023 - 21:32:37