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MekhongKurt

September 14th meeting report

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Hi, All

Yesterday's meeting of the Expats' Association of Thailand was very successful, no doubt in large measure due to the mentions in our 2 local English-language daily newspapers, "The Nation" and "The Bangkok Post."  We owe particular debts to the Editors of the "Listings" in "The Nation" and "Realtime" of "The Bangkok Post" for running our announcement last week although their press deadlines were past by the time I got them the news.

Dean Barrett gave a wonderful presentation filled with humor about having been in Thailand during the 1960's with the [American] Army Security Agency as a Mandarin-language specialist.  Dean has a special knack for making gentle fun of himself and others without being either self-denigrating or insulting, but hugely entertaining; the laughter was almost constant.  Afterwards, Dean happily sold a number of several of his various works.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed Dean's chat.

About half the people attending were newcomers, to whom we "Old Hands" extend a warm welcome and whom we look forward to seeing again.

We're still waiting for volunteers and nominees for the Governing Board so we can move forward with registering the Expats' Association of Thailand as a non-profit group.  We did gain one new Board member yesterday; Khun Jay volunteered, so let me tell you a bit about him.

Jay is a young Thai gentleman who's family emigrated to Norway when he was 5 years old.  He now is a student in Marketing at Bangkok University, and besides his native Thai speaks Norwegian and English extremely well.  In fact, his English is so good that the first time I met him I took him, from his accent, to be specifically American-Thai.

Having Jay aboard brings us further balance, both in terms of overall membership of the Association and of membership on the Board.  In fact, now the Board has me (as the only foreigner), Khun Aom, Khun Panida, and Khun Jay as Thai members.

President Aom submitted for a vote that we set 3:00 P.M. sharp as the starting time for our guest speakers, as sometimes it happens the person speaking to us that day has other appointments afterwards so needs to leave on time.

I met with the owner of the restaurant in Koh Chang who is greatly helping us with our plan -- hoped-for plan, that is ;-) -- to have a group holiday on that reportedly lovely island at or near Loy Krathong in November.  He himself is offering us a great deal on meals, and has already made arrangements for discounts for various extra activities such as elephant rides and a boat trip around the nearby islands.  Negotiations with a hotel for discount accomodation and with Bangkok Airways for discount air travel are continuing.  I'll keep you posted.

Bob, owner of The Office Bar & Grill, is working on purchasing a laminator se we can issue proper laminated membership cards.

Don't forget next Sunday's guest speaker, Police Senior Sergeant Major Kanot, who will be on hand to talk about visas.  Even if your own visa is settled and clear, this will be useful information for you to share with others.  And for those either not familiar with the visa system here or who would like to obtain a different kind of visa than they already have, the value of the information is obvious.  Sunday, September 21st, 3:00-5:00 P.M. at The Bourbon Street Restaurant in Washington Square.

Our Tuesday social meetings continue at The Office Bar & Grill just off Sukhumvit Soi 33 5-8 P.M.; all are welcome.  And bring a friend or two!

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m.kurt,

re. your next meeting

is there any chance that the speaker from the immigration dept. can be asked specifically

1.  about the current arrests for visa run agent use,why is  it   suddenly happening and what might happen to those arrested.

2.does he have any useful advice for those with possible fake stamps and  are worried about their next exit.

if i was in bkk at the moment i would attend and ask,hopefully in view of  the amount of interest on the forums about this subject others will have the same questions.

hope the meeting goes well.

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I think I can partially answer a question of yours without even asking Kanit, as one of your questions -- why the crackdown on visa-run agents now? -- is something he and I've discussed a couple of times already.

It appears to be a combination of an indisputably legitimate factor combined with a second factor that may or may not be legitimitate.  That is, the fact that the existing (and in my view, reasonable) laws are being enforced, a legitimate exercise for any government, if the law is indeed itself legitimate.  Then there is a second factor, one of which I'm not so sure.  There is a bevy of new senior commanders in the Immigration Bureau, and it is standard practice for such people to flex their muscles to gain "face."  However, it's never possible to tell, at first, if such people's *only* motive is to gain a bit of face then to resume business as usual or if they genuinely are trying to do their jobs.  While the *presumption* is invariably the former, it may well be that this time the latter applies.  Kanit told me some weeks ago that there has been a major attitudinal shift in the high command, a genuine, major, and serious shift.

I'll take a stab at the question about those having fake stamps.  At least two consulates in neighboring countries have changed to a visually different visa from the ones stamped before, so any visa issued on or after the date of that change that doesn't look like the new visa stamp will raise red flags immediately.

I'll raise your issues with Kanit, but I'll need to wait until after the meeting is over, as I can't put him into a difficult situation.  Besides the fact he is my very good friend so I don't wish to cause him any discomfort there is the consideration that he may have knowledge he'd prefer not to discuss in so public a forum.

Thanks ever so much for your good wishes that the meeting goes well.

Kurt T. Francis, Vice-President

Expats' Association of Thailand

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What about the Hambali factor?  What about the war on corruption?  Surely one or both of these were factors.  The current crackdown is so widespread that it appears to come from the top of the government, not from the top of Immigration.

I think the speaker should be open to all important questions with of course the right to not answer if desired.

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i think discretely asked questions at the end of the forum by m.kurt are the only way to go here.this is a delicate subject and hostile or provocative questioning that could put the officer on the spot in a public meeting would cause him embarrasment and he would never want to return to future meetings.in my opinion questions asked from the floor should be asked with tact and without aggresion. regarding the visa stamps especially seeing as thai laws were broken,whatever the circumstances.no point in shooting the "messenger".

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First, I forgot to ask Kanit about the consequences of using a visa service, despite his reminding me after the meeting that both he and I had forgotten *during* the meeting to address the question.  He did say for me to pass on that it is NOT wise to use such a service at this time, as there is a *major* crackdown underway on these services.  The owner of one such service reportedly said practically the same thing himself -- not that he said not to use his service, but he supposedly said it's darned tough for all such services to get away with it.  I will call Kanit later and raise the question with him then post his information once I have it.

Secondly, the meeting went very well, as you can read in my meeting report below.  There was *no* hostile or aggressive questioning, happily.  It would indeed have been a disaster had such happened; Kanit was nervous enough already, never having spoken to a large group, though he relaxed a bit when I reminded him that as a high-ranking police N.C.O. he often spoke to large audiences of police officers, even if mostly just at detail meetings at the beginning of a shift.  Knowing many foreigners, he was well aware of the possibility of hostile interrogation, and was pleasantly surprised by the cordiality shown him, even when the questioner was facing a frustrating situation.  He handled himself with aplomb, in my view, both when making his short general comments and in speaking with individuals about their particular cases afterwards.  [A couple of Heinekins went quite a ways towards relaxing him, too! ;-)]

As noted in the report, we were absolutely thrilled to have 48 people show up -- an indication of the interest in the topic.  I am going to discuss Kanit the possibility of having him speak again, sooner rather than later -- maybe in 6-8 weeks, as fast as things are developing.

All readers here are cordially invited to our meeting next Sunday, September 28th at Bourbon Street Restaurant in Washington Square (Sukhumvit Road and Sukhumvit Soi 22) 3-5 P.M.  Our featured speaker will be Dawn Kit, Attorney-at-Law with the Wireless Road law firm Kitt & Murray.

On to the report --

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