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Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-nob stands to emphasise a point

Phuket Push to Crack Down on 'Working Tourists'

Thursday, October 15, 2009
A CRACKDOWN will take place from the end of October on non-Thais working illegally on Phuket, the Governor said today.

It was an ''economic crime'' for people to take the jobs of Thais, Governor Wichai Praisa-nob told a meeting at Provincial Hall.

He said the crackdown would apply to all foreigners, not just Burmese, Laotians and Cambodians.

Too many people were coming as tourists then working on tourist visas, he said.

The meeting brought together officials from Immigration, the Labor Office, the Tax Office, the Culture Office, and the public relations section of the Provincial Hall administration.

When the labor office representative noted that they had a staff of just four, the Governor responded: ''Why don't you ask the Army or the Navy for help?''

The purge is set to begin on Friday, October 30, the last working day of the month. October 30 is the final day for workers from Burma, Cambodia and Laos to register as legal laborers.

The Governor said he wanted abuses rectified before the tourism high season began in earnest.

He was asked about workers on fishing trawlers, but said the fishermen were mostly at sea and did not generate problems for Phuket.
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Comments

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They could start with the boiler room boys, and time-share touts. But these chaps have already probably paid for their work credentials!

Posted by andrew on October 15, 2009 13:30

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I once spent 3 hours at the labor office trying to sort out a minor problem with my work permit. During those 3 hours I had 3 labour office staff sitting around me making insulting comments and doing little else.

In another case, after filing my tax records, the tax office sent a letter to my business stating that a tax refund was in order. A few weeks later another letter came stating that there was some kind of problem and the refund could not be paid.

My accountant checked with them and was told that no tax refund was forthcoming because we had earned double the amount stated in our tax records. They could provide no evidence of this (not surprisingly since it wasn't true) but anyway, we were basically told to suck on it.

I have wasted many many hours of time and thousands of baht trying to work legally in this country, only to get screwed over at every turn. It's no wonder so many are tempted to work underground.

If they really want to clean up the labor situation here, start with the inept government offices!

Posted by Legal & Bitter About It on October 15, 2009 17:23

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Good idea.... start with the tailors harrassing people on the street, the time-share people and boiler room boys as mentioned above etc.

I always wondered how all this people get work permits etc... maybe because of the reason mentioned above by K. Andrew? - very likely in my opinion.

However, i also need to say that i never had any issue with my work permits, visas etc and did never found immigration and labor department people talking bad to me or about me etc.

Posted by KRR on October 15, 2009 17:39

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I lived and worked in Phuket for 3 years, as manager of the hotel that I built. For 3 years I worked without a work permit because the Labour department refused (on 2 occasions) to issue me with a WP. Why? Because they stated (totally incorrectly), that a foreigner could not obtain a WP if he wanted to work in a business that was registered in his Thai partner's name as a sole trader. They insisted that the trading company be a registered ltd company (jamgat).

So for 3 years I worked illegally as manager of our hotel, employing 6 Thai staff and paying Thai taxes on our profits, but always wary of being arrested for illegal employment.

Now I have moved away from Phuket and am legally employed (with WP) in another area of Thailand. But the attitude of the Phuket Labour Office does not help the issue of foreigners working without WPs

Posted by Anonymous on October 16, 2009 11:48

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When does this latest crackdown END? The article doesn't say.

Posted by FarangerInParadise on October 18, 2009 16:17

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The government can crack down as much they want, it will not work as unethical civil servants make their living from corruption and greedy opportunists in Thailand, Thais and Foreigners alike, know it.

Also note than in Thailand, any foreigners can set up a company with the help of lawyers and accounting offices for less than 20,000 Baht with proxy Thai nominees as shareholders, directors and get enough quota of Thai staff for having a legal work-permit.
The first step is to cleansing all corrupt civil servants at all levels if Thailand want to get out of the mess.

Who will dare to start to remove corrupted civil servants from office? That is the question since so many years!

Posted by Whistle-Blower on October 18, 2009 19:22

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@Whistle-Blower

Of course, corruption is intolerable, a real cancer on every society afflicted by it.

You have identified another key issue, but I infer (perhaps incorrectly) that you have come down on the wrong side of it.

Why should starting a Thailand-registered company require Thai shareholders at all? What is wrong with a foreigner setting up his own wholly-owned (perhaps small) company so he can operate commercially?

Fair enough that there are licensing requirements for some types of services (like construction services or electrical services), where public safety is a reasonable concern.

Fair enough that these companies need to pay taxes. Obviously.

Fair enough that X Thai employees are required for each foreign work permit issued, to promote Thai employment and so that shell companies do not become work-permit processing mills.

But what is the reason for Thai *shareholders*?

If the intent is to prevent land ownership by foreigners, then the Thai shareholder requirements should apply only to land-holding companies. But why should it apply to a pure service-company that owns no land?

Much of the hoop-jumping we see traces back to this single, IMHO indefensible, requirement that is imposed upon foreigners here.

Posted by D on October 19, 2009 00:29

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I am a foreigner married with a Thai spouse and with three adult Eurasian children.

I am living in Phuket since 30 years and with my Thai family we have invested our money, energy and time in the tourism business for the future of our children.

For 10 years the world has been changing very fast with affordable mobile phone and Internet and we see a lot of opportunist foreigners knowing that in Phuket, it is easy to set up a legal company with proxy Thai partners and Thai staff.

Those foreigners with a few thousand baht are cheating on Thai laws and are able to play the middle-men and grab 20-40 percent commissions on any sales through Internet and touts.

Beside those who play by the rules and who have invested a lot of money such as hotels, land developers, boat operators lost most of their profits to that illegal operating businesses and at the moment they have no choice but to pay them or lost too much business.

Best example is in diving businesses where you have less than 20 dive operators who own their own dive boats with large investments but must pay more than 30 percent to more than 500 Instructors who have made companies in order to get work-permits and work alone without Thai staff and no real Thai investors to own the 51percent of the two million baht company.

Definitely it is unfair and many businessmen, Thai and foreigner alike, complain about it to the Thai administration.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on October 19, 2009 09:00

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I agree, D! Thailand is losing out on a lot of expertise, small, foreign owned business could employ Thai and teach them skills.

btw Whistle Blower, using Thai nominees is illegal, which is why I won't open a business.

And since I also don't know anyone I trust with 51 percent of my money.....

Posted by HorseDoctor on October 19, 2009 09:30

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Fact is that a lot of guys sitting in thailand have a business making money and not paying tax. all day long they complain about this and that and they not even pay taxes here!!!

i understand the goverment and they not talk only about farangs they talk about ppl from burma, cambodia and so on. they realise now that the burmese can be a problem. the high season is coming and they want to clean up. also all thai embassys have strict order that somebody who want to enter thailand with few tourist visas in they passport they reject the visa.

i know few cases the last month and some dont give a tourist visa. i live in phuket and i working in south east asia. i earn a very good salary and i spend every month arround 150 000 bath. but the thai ppl on embassy treat me as a sex tourist...anyway if somebody doing black business he have to accept that he doing something illegal and stop complaining about the law. just look in europe how difficult it is to become a visa...

Posted by Mike on October 19, 2009 18:19


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