Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Bangkok Riots’

2nd February 2011

While surfing the World Wide Web, this blogger came across an interesting piece on the Diplopundit blog pertaining to the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. The administration of this blog highly recommends that readers go to the Diplopundit blog to read the entry in its entirety. That said, the following was quoted directly from the aforementioned blog:

We understand that Bangkok’s FY 2009 NIV workload declined by over 20,000 cases from its FY 2008 high. The IV workload also declined from a FY 2006 high of approximately 8,500 to fewer than 3,000 cases in FY 2009. Still — we feel bad for the ELOs [English Language Officers] — no counseling, late performance reviews and a rotation program that spans 3-4 months — are not/not great introductions to a new career.

There is obviously a leadership disconnect here. The CG meets with the officers regularly but the Visa Chief reportedly does not, and neither were “regular participants in [visa] line work.” Ever wonder how this translates to — lead by example? Or building great teams?

The above quotation seems to drip with a certain level of sarcasm while maintaining a genuine concern for efficiency at American Missions abroad. That stated, this blogger cannot comment upon the caseload, processing policies, or personnel issues at the US Embassy in Bangkok due to a general lack of personal knowledge regarding the overall staffing situation at the Post. However, this blogger can state from personal experience that the officers at the US Embassy Thailand really did “go above and beyond” during the year 2010.

The Kingdom of Thailand saw a great deal of political, economic, and social turbulence in 2010. Most notable for those interested in matters pertaining to the US Embassy was the fact that the Post was closed for a number of days due to the riots in the late spring and early summer in Bangkok, Thailand. The so-called “Red Shirts” mounted a protest which eventually lead to a government crackdown, but not before causing major disruptions in the Bangkok Metropolitan area. The reason this riot is pertinent to this posting is the fact that this blogger personally saw, on more than one occasion, Consular Officers, of virtually every level, at the US Embassy in Bangkok going out of their way to assist and provide services to people leading right up to the actual crackdown (the same could also be said for the USCIS office in Bangkok, but that is a digression from the point of this posting).

In many ways, the situation in Bangkok could have been detrimental to the health and safety of the Consular Officers at the Post, but said employees continued to diligently perform their duties nonetheless. Although none of this goes precisely to the heart of the issues discussed in the Diplopundit blog posting this blogger felt that it should be noted in order to provide a human, if somewhat intangible, perspective on the situation in Bangkok over the past year. Perhaps this blogger is being “soft,” but it is simply the opinion of this blogger that credit ought to be given where it is due.

For related information please see: K-1 Visa Thailand.

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26th September 2010

Those who track this blog may have noticed that there has been an increase in political activities which have disrupted the otherwise calm political and economic environment in the Kingdom of Thailand. There are many who feel that these disruptions are only temporary and will not prove detrimental over the long term. In the short term, individuals and businesses in Thailand are analyzing some new risks which have manifested themselves over the past 9-12 months. To quote directly from Westlawbusiness.com:

Several companies have recently disclosed risks arising from the political turmoil in Thailand. For example, Priceline.com, an online hotel auctioneer, recently disclosed that “civil unrest in Thailand, a key market for our Agoda business and the Asian business of Booking.com. This may result in “significant year-over-year declines in booking volumes in this market….Thailand has experienced disruptive civil unrest in prior years as well and continued or future civil or political unrest could further disrupt Agoda’s Thailand-based business and operations.”

Communication cable manufacturer General Cable is also reporting that it is subject to business risk arising from unrest in Thailand. The copper, aluminum, and fiber optic wire and cable products provider recently disclosed that its “business is subject to the economic, political and other risks of maintaining facilities and selling products in foreign countries. . . Thailand recently experienced significant political and militant unrest in certain provinces. The country’s elected government was overthrown in September 2006, with an elected government only recently restored.” [emphasis in original]

Political turmoil can have substantial unforeseen consequences for some businesses and business models operating throughout Asia. This is why retaining the assistance of local legal counsel can be advantageous for multinational corporations as professionals with on-the-ground knowledge of local business customs and practices can guide clients away from unforeseen legal, and in some cases; business, risks.

There are many, this author included, who feel that the current political turbulence in Thailand is simply a “bump in the road” eventually leading to overall tranquility and economic prosperity in the Kingdom of Thailand as well as the South East Asia region. Bearing that in mind, those wishing to establish a business or corporate presence in Thailand are well advised to conduct research and due diligence before making irrevocable business decisions as  maintaining a corporate presence in Bangkok, or the emerging markets in Cambodia, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), Malaysia, and Vietnam can be fraught with unforeseen legal and business issues which may not arise in jurisdictions such as the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, or Canada.

Many wishing to do business in Thailand opt to do so under a Thai Limited Company as this type of juristic person provides a measure of limited liability. Limited Liability is often one of the first methods employed by those wishing to hedge against unforeseen future business risks. American businesses may also enjoy many benefits pursuant to the language of the US-Thai Treaty of Amity. Regardless of the type of corporate structure, any foreigner wishing to work in the Kingdom of Thailand must obtain a Thai work permit prior to taking up employment pursuant to Thai labor law.

For related information please see: Bangkok Lawyer or Amity Treaty Company.

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20th May 2010

The following was posted on the official website of the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand:

U.S. Depatment of State
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC May 19, 2010

Statement: Situation in Thailand

I would like to say that the United States deeply deplores the violence and loss of life that has resulted from clashes between security forces and protests from the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD).  We call on both sides to show restraint and to work to resolve differences through Thailand’s democratic institutions.

We are encouraged by the actions of the Red Shirt leaders who have surrendered to law enforcement agencies and support their call to supporters to return home peacefully.  However, we are deeply concerned that Red Shirt supporters have engaged in arson targeting the electricity infrastructure and media outlets and have attacked individual journalists.

We condemn such behavior and call on UDD leaders and affiliated opposition politicians to urge their supporters to stop such acts.  We remain very concerned about the situation in Thailand and we will continue to monitor those events closely.

At the time of this writing, the US Embassy in Bangkok is closed to those seeking routine services due to the unrest in the areas near the Embassy compound. In Bangkok, the situation seems to have stabilized. However, the city remains tense as most Bangkok residents seem to be hoping for an end to the unpleasantness and a return to relative normality.

On a related note, the Thai Tourism Industry is preparing for a major downturn moving forward. To quote the website ThaiVisa.com:

Thailand’s violent political turmoil has had a “disastrous” effect on the vital tourism sector, the country’s finance minister said Friday, stressing that the overall economy remained sound. “Tourism in value terms accounts for six percent of our GDP,” Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij told a Tokyo conference, adding that the sector also accounts for “as much as 15 to 20 percent of the total employment.” “And clearly, with the events that took place over the past several weeks, and the pictures of these events flashing across TV screens across the world, it is going to have a very disastrous impact on tourism.” Thai security forces on Wednesday crushed a six-week protest by anti-government protesters in street battles that left 15 people dead and saw arsonists torch some 36 key buildings across the capital Bangkok. The stock exchange and the nation’s biggest shopping mall were among locations torched in the chaotic aftermath of the campaign to end the “Red Shirt” protesters’ occupation of Bangkok’s top retail district. Korn said that “we anticipate that the impact on the GDP of the protest so far is probably between 0.3 and 0.5 percent of GDP.” However, he stressed that the wider economic picture was sound in the kingdom, telling the conference that “we expect the formal Q1 (first quarter) figure to be in two digits” this year.

As we have previously discussed on this blog, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has waived fees for Thai Tourist Visas. However, the fees associated with applications for the Thai business visa and the Thai O visa remain the same.

For further information about attorney assistance with Consular Processing of US visa applications please see: US Embassy. For further information about closure of the US Embassy in Thailand please see: US Embassy Bangkok. Finally, to learn more about Thai Immigration please see: Thai Visa.

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16th May 2010

The US Embassy in Bangkok Thailand posted the following on their official website:

Announcement

Due to the ongoing security situation, the U.S. Embassy, including visa services, will remain closed on Tuesday, May 18.  American Citizen Services (ACS) will be available for emergencies only.

Individuals whose visa appointments have been impacted by the closure of the U.S. Embassy will be contacted through the email address(es) provided during the appointment registration process with information on rescheduling.

Individuals with ACS appointments, please go to the U.S. Embassy website to reschedule.  If you have problems rescheduling online, please email us at acsbkk@state.gov or call us at 02-205-4049.  For individuals scheduling appointments for the first time, please go to the website to schedule your appointment.  Please note that we are unable to make first time appointments over the phone.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, and thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

As the political situation in Thailand, and Bangkok particularly, remains precarious, it may be wise to avoid travel to the United States Embassy as it is physically located rather close to contested zone in Bangkok. To quote the website ThaiVisa.com:

The worsening violence has turned parts of the city into no-go zones as troops use live ammunition against anti-government demonstrators, who have blocked streets with burning tyres, and fought back with homemade weapons. A member of the official emergency medical centre in Bangkok said two more people had died overnight, including the first member of the military to be killed in the three days of running gunbattles on the city’s streets. He said 244 people had been wounded, including six foreigners. Guests at a luxury hotel in the city of 12 million people were forced to shelter in the basement after the building came under gunfire and was rattled by an explosion in the early hours of Monday morning. Fire gutted three commercial buildings in another area.

It seems to be increasingly self-evident that this most recent round of violence is to have a very detrimental impact upon the operations of businesses, government offices, and foreign legations in Bangkok. Those whose presence is not urgently required in Bangkok are urged to stay outside of the city and those in the city are being urged to stay clear of the protest sites or those areas which are contested. It should be noted that Monday May  17th, and Tuesday May 18th have been officially designated as holidays for Bangkok. To quote again from the website ThaiVisa.com, “The Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation announced that the Cabinet made Monday and Tuesday special holidays for Bangkok. Deputy PM’s Secretary-General Panithan Watanayakorn said the special holidays are designed for the government to try to ease the situation.”

This author can only hope that this situation will come to a peaceful conclusion as soon as possible.

For information about US Immigration from Thailand please see: US Visa Thailand. For information about attorney assistance with Consular Processing please see: US Embassy Thailand.


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