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Immigration wants me, Lord, I can’t go back there

But the newspaper article said this form was not mandatory. 

Who says so?

It quotes Deputy Commissioner of Immigration Pol Maj Gen Chatchawan Wachirapaneekhun, whose name is also there as the person who ‘designed and arranged’ this form.

Well, that’s right, it is not mandatory.  But if you want to extend your visa or do your 90-day report, you are required to complete the form.  Voluntarily.

Because if I don’t, …

You won’t get your extension and we will fine you for not doing your 90-day report.

I see.

It’s just like attitude adjustment with the military.  That’s not compulsory.  It’s just an invitation, no compulsion involved.  And if you don’t go, they arrest you.  We’ve learned a lot from the military.

I’m sure you have.  OK, so this form.  Full name of father and mother?  Why do you need that?

It should be easy for you to give that information.

Well, since I’m not the Archbishop of Canterbury, I suppose so.  But, you know, I’ve only seen this information asked for in one the other place: police interrogation reports.

No, you must understand that the purpose of this information is so that we can help track down foreigners when problems arise.

By knowing the names of my parents who are both deceased.

That’s right.  That’s also why we want your social media account details.

I don’t have any social media accounts.

Yes you do.  You must do.  What’s your Facebook page?

I’m not on Facebook.  Facebook is for adolescents and people who haven’t grown up yet.

I have a Facebook page.

And the young at heart.  Did I mention the young at heart?

Now, what vehicles do you use?

Taxis and buses.

OK, write the brand and licence plate and so on.

Pardon?

And where do you usually visit?

What do you mean?

What clubs do you go to?

I don’t.

Well, what shops do you normally use?

7-11.

OK, write that down.

That helps you find me if there’s a problem?

Of course.  The police won’t waste time looking in Family Mart, you see.  Food courts?

Never use them.

I don’t think you’re being very helpful. 

I’m sorry but I didn’t think that frequenting food courts was a necessary condition for staying in Thailand.  Maybe you should advise people about this when they arrive at the airport.

Yes, we might do that.  Now hospitals.

I go in for an annual medical.

Good, now write down the details.  So you see, if we need to contact you urgently, we’ll be able to go to the hospital and wait for up to a year for you to appear for your medical.  Then we can check on you.

That’s very kind of you.

OK, now your bank details.

Pardon?

Write down your bank details. 

Why?  My bank has warned me against giving out this information.  Why do you need it?

Do you want to extend your visa or not?

Look, my bank details will never help you find me in an emergency.  I can’t see why you need this information.  What are you going to do with it?

Well, suppose you commit a crime and we cannot find you.  If we have your bank account details, we will be able to find you more easily.  Or at least your money.

What do you mean, if I commit a crime?  Who thinks I’m a criminal?

No one.  This is just in case.

But if someone is a criminal, do you expect them to give honest answers on this form? 

Ah no, you see, we have a way of checking that.

How?

Well, all this will be published on the internet for everyone to check and if anyone is found to be telling lies, then we can deport them.

If you can find them.


About author:  Bangkokians with long memories may remember his irreverent column in The Nation in the 1980's. During his period of enforced silence since then, he was variously reported as participating in a 999-day meditation retreat in a hill-top monastery in Mae Hong Son (he gave up after 998 days), as the Special Rapporteur for Satire of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, and as understudy for the male lead in the long-running ‘Pussies -not the Musical' at the Neasden International Palladium (formerly Park Lane Empire).