The law was drafted in 1979, pretty much as the last of the US Army GIs were still shipping out and long before the first real tourists graced these shores in numbers – the precursor to the mass tourism Thailand enjoys today.
Many expats living on the island have long been key drivers in tourism and other industries that has made Phuket – as Bangkok is so proud to point out time and again – the highest-revenue generating province in the country outside the Bangkok metropolitan area.
Punishing such foreigners who have brought so much benefit for Thais living in Phuket, and helped to create so many jobs that sustain so many families on the island, is absurd.
We understand that Phuket Immigration is bound by rules it does not create, and that every time there is a security scare immigration superiors in Bangkok bleat to crack down on security measures, thus dusting off old laws for nothing better than a public show of effort.
Trust us, if the honest, law-abiding expats who do take the time to re-register their address know this procedure is a waste of time… the bad guys certainly know it. The procedure achieves nothing.
Bangkok should at the very least make good on the Prime Minister’s promise of using technology to improve work efficiency of its officials – yes, that “Thailand 4.0” promise – while at the same time making it more convenient for foreigners to fulfil this requirement.
In short, if a mobile phone today can scan a fingerprint – or even a face – and match it to a data account, then why not install a simple device at the immigration office so foreigners can get this procedure over and done with in seconds, forgoing the long queues at the Immigration office.
The fearful in Bangkok could require such a machine to be installed only at Immigration offices, which would help to placate their concerns with a photo of the foreigner being taken every time this is done.
Sometimes the small things, simple things, mean so much and make much more sense.