Thailand will introduce fingerprint checks and photos for mobile telephone users to register their SIM cards from December 15, the telecoms
authority said on Monday.
The authority first launched the system in June in Thailand's troubled south where a separatist muslim insurgency has persisted for more than a decade. Biometric registration in the south was adopted for national security reasons but elsewhere in
Thailand it is supposedly aimed at mobile banking security.
Similar biometric systems are already in use other repressive countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
From December 15, Thais will be required to register new SIM cards, both pre-paid and post-paid, at service centers and those retailers equipped with biometric tools. To register a new SIM card, users' fingerprints will be matched against the data
stored on their national identification cards, identical to that in the government's central citizen database.
Foreigners buying SIM cards in Thailand will have their faces photographed and matched against their passport photographs.
Threats of 100,000 Baht fines for smoking on the beach have recently been supeceded by figures of 2000 Baht.
The authorities have come up with some bizarre notions that smokers will be placated by providing them with smoking booths where their habit is tolerated.
The smoking booths are small cubicles of glass of Perspex complete with ash trays and an extractor fan to expel the smoke outside.
Channel 3 reported that there were to be 10 such booths along the stretch of Bang Saen beach to allow smokers top have a puff without annoying others or threatening the sandy ecosystem with discarded nubs.
Chief of marine and coastal resources Jatuporn Burutphat, who came up with the plan to ban smoking on Thai beaches, made a tour of inspection with a few dozen of his smiling entourage, probably desperately trying not to giggle.
In a bizarre over reaction to the problem of cigarette butts littering Thai beaches, the authorities are introducing massive fines and jail time for tourists transgressing a no smoking ban, to be introduced in November this year.
The measure will be introduced initially in 20 of the resorts most popular with foreign visitors including Phuket and Pattaya. The ban, which will come into effect next month, will apply to beaches in the provinces of Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan,
Chon Buri and Songkhla, and includes the popular resorts of Koh Samui and Pattaya.
t comes after the country's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) said it had retrieved tens of thousands of cigarette butts left in the sand. The head of the department, Jatuporn Buruspat, said that up to 138,000 cigarette butts had
been collected by the environmental group over a 2.5km (1.5 miles) stretch of Patong beach in Phuket. Jatuporn added that the while smoking will be prohibited on the beaches affected by the measure, there will be designated areas further inland
where smokers will be able to smoke and drop their litter in provided containers.
Jatuporn Buruspat said that officials were also considering measures aimed at tackling the related issue of cigarette butts being dropped by tourists from boats.
One of the areas affected is looking forward to the collections of fines. A representative of the Hua Hin authority has announced that tetsakit, tourist police, and what was termed 'beach police' would be patrolling to enforce the ban. On a
slightly more positive note, the Hua Hin authorities are considering a lower fine of 2,000 baht. But it still has to be a terrifying prospect of commission based wardens being a little over-zealous with imaginative enforcement methods.
And in another new measure targeting beach goes, Pattaya authorities have introduced a ban preventing beach vendors from selling alcohol. The measure came into force at the start of October this year but early reports suggest that the new
prohibition is not yet being enforced and that beers and cocktails are still readily available.
A series of impossible to understand announcements from the Thai government had drinkers and smokers very worried about today's
reworked sin taxes. The government provided very alarming numbers about tax rises without specifying the entire equation.
However the tax rises have now been announced and it seems that drinks will rise somewhat more modestly than was feared.
Taxes have risen most for imported wine which will now cost abut 100 Baht more than yesterday.
Beers as have been hit by about 2 or 3 Baht a bottle whilst bottles of spirits have risen by up to 30 Baht depending on price. Cigarette tax has been increased by up to 15 Baht.
These price increases have been reported at retail stores rather than bars. It is not yet clear how the tax increases will map onto more expensive prices in bars and GoGos.
Spotify, the world's leading music streaming subscription service, launched on Tuesday in Thailand.
Spotify offers both a free ad-supported music service and an upgraded ad-free subscription service.
Users can listen for free or alternatively upgrade to Spotify Premium for Bt129 per month. Daily and weekly payment options are also available. The subscription rates compares well with the £10 a month in the UK.
Boasting a vast catalogue of over 30 million songs, all available to both free users and subscribers, Spotify says it comes to Thailand offering the very best in both local and international music. However Spotify also notes that not all tracks
are available in all countries.
Music cannot be downloaded for use outside of the Spotify controlled environment, but there are apps that can record music being played through the audio system of one's device.
Vogue fashion magazine has been reporting on the dangers of social media posts that contain images which included
alcohol brands. Vogue magazine writes:
Tourists might not realize as they make their guidebook-mandated pilgrimage to nightlife hotspots like Khao San Road, is that despite the country's many Full Moon parties and bar girls, alcohol advertising is illegal. And posting a photo on
social media of your beer by the beach could count as advertising.
Recently police have begun to strictly enforce 2008's Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, which bans displaying the names or logos of products in order to induce people to drink such alcoholic beverages, either directly or indirectly.
Last month, police announced their intention to more closely patrol social media and charge those found breaking the law. That means even if your favorite actress wasn't being paid for her endorsement and really was just sharing a photo with a
drink by the pool or on a night out, she could find herself facing a 50,000 baht (about $1,500 USD) fine for indirectly inducing drinking.
Earlier this month, eight local celebrities were fined for posting selfies with alcoholic drinks on social media, with Thai Asia Pacific Brewery and Boon Rawd Brewery Co. (the producer of Singha beer) also implicated in the case. But police
aren't just monitoring the accounts of the rich and famous -- at the beginning of August, three bar girls found themselves arrested after making a Facebook Live video inviting people to come enjoy a beer promotion.
A travel agent is urging others to tell their customers not to vape in Thailand as they could face up to 10 years in prison.
Pat Waterton, manager at Langley Travel, said she was unaware of the ban. She only learnt of the law when her nephew James was forced to pay £125 as an on-the-spot fine after being threatened with jail for having an e-cigarette in Bangkok.
Speaking to Travel Weekly Waterton said: If I'm selling Thailand I will definitely mention it now. All agents should. Thailand is very popular so we should make sure we are telling people about things that could ruin a holiday.
Foreign Office advice is clear. On its website it instructs travellers not to bring vaporisers (like e-cigarettes) or refills into Thailand. The Foreign Office said: These items are likely to be confiscated and you could be fined or sent to prison
for up to 10 years if convicted. Several British Nationals have been arrested for possession of vaporisers and e-cigarettes.
As if to remind visitors that Thailand is a military dictatorship, Thai immigration has been starting to
enforce a law that requires visitors to report their address to the police or immigration within 24 hours of arrival and at each subsequent change.
The law seems to have 3 relevant parts
visitors are required to provide their first address on immigration cards filled in when entering the country.
a) visitors are then required to inform immigration or the police of their first night address.
b) house owners or hotels are also required to report visitors staying at their property
a) visitors are then required to report subsequent changes of address to police or immigration
b) house owners or hotels are as per 1b are required to report arrivals (and departures?) to immigration.
Up until recently the authorities have relied on the house owners/hotels to keep them informed of visitors' whereabouts, but now it seems that immigration is now requiring the reports from visitors also .
And as usual, the level of enforcement is dependent on which department/officer is dealing with issues. Now it would be totally unpleasant for visitors to have to report to police stations, so on the whole, you would have thought that filling in the
address on the landing card and relying on hotels for the reporting should be adequate for your typical short visit tourist.
However Thai Visa forum members have been carefully translating the law, but haven't really concluded that the entry card is quite adequate to report your address without the visit to the police station as required in step 2.
People are being fined about 2-4000 baht for transgressions when found out, particularly when visiting immigration for other reasons, such as visa extensions. But its not just the fine, its the thought of getting into trouble in foreign police
stations/immigration departments, especially for people who wouldn't ever dream of knowingly breaking the law.
Update: And the Pattaya take on the new requirement
A forum member fro Thai Visa has posted a very badly worded immigration poster from Jomtien (above) basically saying that you have to report to the police/immigration every time you change address, although maybe you are covered for the address
stated on your entry card. And f you get caught out the fine seems to be about 80,000 Baht for a year.
A new law has come into force since its publication in the Royal Gazette on January 15 under which each household will have to pay 350
Baht monthly for garbage collection and disposal fees.
And this is only for a basic tier of 120kg or 600 items per month. There will be high charges for heavier users.
The law empowers local administration authorities to manage garbage collection and disposal and set the rules regarding separation, collection and disposal. In addition scavenging will be banned presumably so that councils can do their own
There do not seem to be any details on how payment will be collected, nor how the weighing and item counting will be implemented. And there is nothing on how this very expensive fee can possibly be afforded by minimum wage Thais.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Authority and other municipalities have said they needed time to study the issue before they could implement the new payment plan, which increases garbage collection fees from the current Bt20 a month per household to 350 Baht a
Bangkok Council member Chayawuth Siriyutwattana said it would take some time for councillors to mull over the proposal and the matter would be tabled at the council's March meeting. To implement the new law, the city must issue a regulation for its
implementation in Bangkok, he said, adding that the new rate would not be enforced until that happened.
The city's current collection fee brings in about Bt500 million a year to city coffers, although the city actually pays about Bt6.5 billion to manage and dispose of garbage.
To illustrate the expensive fee, the current old age pension for those age 60 to 69 is 600 Baht a month. I can't imagine they will be very pleased to be charged 350 Baht to get rid of their rubbish.