FOREIGNERS in Thailand appear to be rattled by the Immigration Bureau’s request for sensitive information through a new immigration form. The form asked for their banking details, social media accounts, and frequent hangouts.
The form appeared to strike a raw nerve with foreigners residing in the kingdom for short or long periods, as they found it to be intrusive to their privacy.
Writer Chris Wotton, 27, said he was shocked by the contents of the three-page form that needed to be filled while applying for a re-entry permit at the One-Stop Service Centre at Chamcuri Square.
“One part of the form was particularly ridiculous — asking for places ‘frequented’. This is just crazy. Should I put down every local stir-fry restaurant, som tum stall, bar and 7-eleven convinience store I visit? The form asks for very personal information,” he was quoted saying in The Bangkok Post.
Another expatriate, a 33-year-old Canadian national who declined to be named, said he was not comfortable with giving the information away.
“I have not faith in any government’s ability to protect my private information.”
In addition to bank account numbers, the form asks foreigners about the social media they use and the vehicles they drive as well as places they frequent – “such as club, restaurant, shop, hospital and other places.”
The government justified the controversial move on grounds of national security, citing concerns about terrorism. The new, seemingly intrusive request is likely to face stiff resistance from Thailand’s large expatriate community, which had previously faced leaks of their personal information.
— Scherezade Maestre (@schmaestre) April 21, 2016
The Immigration Bureau defended the move, saying it met visa and reporting requirements.
The bureau’s deputy chief, Pol Maj Gen Chatchawan Wachirapaneekhun, said the information was useful for security measures as it ensured the safety of the tourists and expats. He said the details would be handled confidentially.
The Bangkok Post also reported him saying that it was not compulsory to answer the invasive questions on the form.
The publication quoted a source who said that the move, which was initiated by Pol Maj Gen Chatchawan and approved by the bureau’s chief Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn, was merely in its trial period.
The source said many foreigners had complained about the their safety and privacy.