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Phuket Police chief stumped over tourist SIM cards bypassing national security

PHUKET: The arrest of a Chinese national in Phuket last Saturday for providing a Thai SIM card to a suspect in a botched gun heist in Bangkok has left the Phuket Police chief floundering about what to do with tour operators handing out Thai SIM cards to tourists.

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By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Wednesday 9 March 2016, 02:37PM


Col Teeraphol Thipjaroen, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Police, says he is powerless to prevent tourists from receiving unregistered SIM cards for mobile phones. Photo:

Col Teeraphol Thipjaroen, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Police, says he is powerless to prevent tourists from receiving unregistered SIM cards for mobile phones. Photo:

Col Teeraphol Thipjaroen, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Police, admitted to The Phuket News this week that he had no authority to force operators to have tourists register their SIM cards – despite the mandatory requirement for all users to register their SIM cards with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC).

The Thai Cabinet last year made the registration of prepaid Thai SIM cards a legal requirement, citing national security concerns.

In particular, in order to register a Thai prepaid SIM card the actual user must present him or herself at an official mobile phone company branch in person, and requires a photo of the SIM user’s face and presentation of his or her passport. (See story here.)

The issue reared its ugly head after the arrest of Chinese national Su Su, 29, in Pa Khlok on Saturday (Mar 5). (See story here.)

“Mr Su openly told police that he bought about 100 SIM cards at a time using only his passport for identification, and then distributed those SIM cards to tour companies to hand out to tourists,” Col Teeraphol said.

QSI International School Phuket

“I know there are many people in Phuket who provide SIM cards to tour companies like this, but we never know what SIM cards – and hence mobile phone numbers – any of these tourists are using.

“And there’s nothing police can do about this,” a flummoxed Col Teerapol said. “I cannot ban these SIM dealers from buying the cards and I cannot prevent the mobile phone companies from selling them. This is up to the NBTC to enforce.”

Ironically, Mr Su has since been blacklisted by the Immigration Bureau, which operates as part of the Royal Thai Police, and has been deported to China on the grounds of jeopardising national security. (See story here.)

Col Teeraphol told The Phuket News that while he was powerless to address the issue, he had faith authorities in Bangkok would see the danger the situation presented and take necessary action.

“The Royal Thai Government will figure out this issue,” he said.

 

 

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Kurt | 09 March 2016 - 20:49:25

Nothing wrong with registration of thai SIM cards if it serves thai national security. 
However, Thailand is no island. 
There are daily many foreign SIM cards coming in, and going out of Thailand. 
Tourists, business people, perhaps potential terrorists who for sure not use registered thai SIM cards anymore.

So, this whole thai SIM card registration is not contributing anything to thai nati...

beerzy85 | 09 March 2016 - 17:46:34

Here we go again......Police chief powerless to act....We have a regulator (NBTC) not enforcing telco rules. Telco wholesale divisions wanting to make a baht by flouting the laws governing their licenses. I think if its AIS True or DTAC selling bundles of SIMS then they need to get their licences suspended....I personally think it's a service provider/s doing this and they need to be put out o...

malczx7r | 09 March 2016 - 16:34:52

A crazy idea, i can come into Thailand with my SIM card from my country and it will work here, albeit it is expensive but if you were here to use it for terrorism, there\'s nothing to stop you and it\'s not registered here, seems a badly thought out piece of legislation.

Sir Burr | 09 March 2016 - 15:52:57

They have been handing out free SIM cards to arriving tourists just after going through immigration at Phuket Airport, for years.

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