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Disgruntled senator calls for stricter visa rules for foreigners

A senator from the north-eastern province of Mahasarakham called on the government to review its issuance of visas to foreigners…

A senator from the north-eastern province of Mahasarakham called on the government to review its issuance of visas to foreigners, after he failed to gain a visa from the British Embassy for a trip to England. Responding to his treatment at the hands of the British Embassy, Mr. Wittaya Masena said it was time to review visa regulations that allowed foreigners easy access to Thailand, while Thais – `even politicians` – were forced to wait in lengthy queues in order to gain visas to go abroad.

Mr. Wittaya claimed that over 30 senators had recently failed to gain visas on time to undertake their foreign travel as scheduled, despite having requested the visas in advance.

Saying that Thailand should consider its `national honour`, Mr. Wittaya called on the government to undertake background checks of foreigners entering the country, rather than simply issuing visas indiscriminately as a means of facilitating tourism.

People from several countries can travel to Thailand without a visa, regardless of whether they are–parliamentarians, businesspeople, tourists, or even hooligans, or traders in illegal goods, he said.

But when Thai people request visas to those countries, they need to get up in the early hours of the morning to wait in queues to submit documents, and have to waste the entire day in order to hear whether or not their visa request has been granted. This is like begging! Where has the honour of Thai people gone?

Mr. Wittaya cited the recent example of Deputy Senate Speaker Niphon Wisityutthasat and a number of senators, who failed to gain visas to the UK, and missed their scheduled flight as a result.

He called on the government both to review its issuance of visas to foreigners, and increase visa charges, noting that while Thai visas were a mere Bt400-500 each, Thais often had to each pay up to Bt3,000 for visas to travel abroad.

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