Stanley Kang, chairman of the Joint Foreign Trade Chambers, urges a drastic overhaul of the TM30 rules and says Thailand's image is destroyed. In an interview with the Bangkok Post, JFCCT chief foreign affairs chief Stanley Kang called on the government to review the enforcement of the draconian TM30 Immigration immigration policy for foreign students and foreigners.
Mr Kang referred to a number of negative consequences not only for the citizens concerned, but also for foreign investment and the image of the country.
As a matter of principle, landlords offering accommodation to foreigners are obliged to report the presence of foreigners to the immigration officers within 24 hours of arrival or departure. However, in the meantime, foreigners are also required to report their whereabouts within 24 hours if they are in a location other than their principal place of residence.
This also applies if you visit other provinces in short breaks or return to Thailand from abroad. Those who do not, both Thais and foreigners, face heavy fines, while non-renewal of visas for longer stays is also possible.
What exactly are the problems with the TM30 Regulation?
A large number of foreigners travel or do business in Thailand. You can see the enormous amount of arrivals and departures at the airports. People are getting on flights as if they are taking taxis, reports the Bangkok Post.
It is not a problem for the (foreigners) staying in hotels because the staff report to the immigration authorities twice a day. But what should I do if I travel every week and arrive at my rental apartment and leave it again? Landlords now have to submit TM30 forms to their foreign tenants each time.
Most importantly, even landlords do not know that they have to notify the immigration officers when foreigners come and go. When foreigners come to Thailand, they travel to other provinces on weekends. However, most of them live in hostels where no TM30 reports are submitted.
Our members have said that some guesthouses now have extra "no alien" signs on their door to avoid difficulties with the police or immigration authorities. I also hesitate now to let my foreign friends stay with me because otherwise I have to submit a TM30 report for them each time, a citizen told the media.
What are the suggestions of the JFCCT?
We propose a regulatory reform. I understand that the TM30 Regulation of 1979 was enforced to monitor the influx of migrant workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. Migrants' employers have to submit housing and file reports once or twice a year on entry and exit. However, this is very different from the business traveler. The regulators should not treat all foreigners equally.
We recommend deleting certain groups from the TM30 Regulation [Notification]. Business visa holders should be exempt from tax, as companies have built or rented accommodation for them.
Similarly, holders of a retirement visa should also be exempted from the obligation to live, reside and make corresponding payments (400,000 and 800,000 baht, respectively). For example, my mother has a pension visa and has bought her own condominium. When she enters and leaves her home, she must submit TM30 reports as both landlord and tenant. It's all very complicated.
Foreign students should also be removed from the requirement. When they study here, they often travel to other provinces on weekends. Would you like to lock her up in her rooms?
The same applies to expats with long-term visas. Also, they should not be subject to the TM30 requirement as they usually submit 90-day reports [about their current addresses]. Visitors who are not in registered hotels [hostels and private homes] should also be exempt from this rule.
Does the TM30 notification process influence the assessment of business relief in Thailand?
Of course she does, landlords are now no longer willing to rent accommodation for foreigners working here, as it is annoying for them to submit the TM30 reports. Thailand has many foreign skilled workers. For example, thousands of Japanese expats frequently Business trips. Do you think landlords can come to terms with the tedious task of submitting TM30 reports?
Can the TM30 Regulation prevent criminals from hiding in Thailand?
I agree with the questions of national security because terrorism is now widespread. Other security measures are already in place. The TM30 Ordinance has caused law-abiding aliens to have trouble destroying the image of Thailand. I do not believe that criminals submit reports of their own whereabouts.
Some people have told me that sim cards are distributed in Singapore to track users. The TM30 regulation is outdated. Supervisors should be one step ahead of criminals and not treat all foreigners as belonging to the same category.
Do you think that if Thais go abroad and spend the night there, the landlords have to submit reports for them? ASEAN countries do not enforce reporting rules. Thailand is the exception. When I visit Vietnam, I can move around freely in the country.
Does the TM30 rule aim to combat the illegal rental of real estate?
It is of course possible, but better ways should be found. When I rent an apartment, I have to sign a one-year contract with which I can extend my visa. The TM30 rule, however, makes it more difficult now. How can landlords know when their foreign tenants arrive or leave their condominiums? How can you report your presence or absence?
Officials are now calling for TM30 forms from foreigners in extending their visa. If expats do not have these documents (which they should have received from landlords), they will be fined. That does not make sense.
Has the JFCCT addressed the matter to the Immigration Department or the Government?
We meet ministers, but as you know, the new government has just taken office and must have been busy. Accordingly, I am in no hurry to meet her. I need to take some time to see how we can work with the coalition government. If they are free, I will discuss the matter with them.
In the meantime, we have examined the TM30 Regulation and the complaints received since its strict enforcement in March. Since more and more emigrants are in a bad mood because of this rule, the JFCCT has unanimously decided that I should express concerns about this issue.
Will the TM30 Rule get more popular as the office improves its online reporting system?
I would like to ask how the Thai people see the TM30 regulation. If your foreign friends come to you and stay with you, will you submit paper or online reports for them every time? National security is important, but where is our privacy?
Instead of enforcing the TM30 rule, authorities should check foreigners before giving them a visa and allowing them to enter the country. Officials should simplify and improve procedures to make them more efficient. The number of foreign criminals makes up only a very small part of all expats in Thailand.
Sources: thethaiger, bankgkoknews, thailandtip