About 300 Thais stranded in Malaysia
published : 29 Mar 2020 at 11:55
writer: Monrudee Poonsin
SATUN: About 300 Thais were left stranded at the Wang Kelian immigration checkpoint in Malaysia's Perlis State on Saturday when they were denied entry to Thailand after failing to follow procedures set by Thai authorities.
Thailand and Malaysia have closed their checkpoints along the common border to all but their own citizens to stem the Covid-19 spread. After the border was closed to foreigners, Satun governor Veeranan Pengchan issued Order 642/2020 to allow Thai nationals with certain documentation to return to Thailand via Wang Prachan immigration checkpoint in Satun. That checkpoint lies opposite Thailand's Wang Prachan checkpoint in Satun's Khuan Don district.
To be eligible, the Thai nationals are required to contact the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur or a Thai consulate in Malaysia to get a letter of certification. The embassy or consulate must then notify the immigration checkpoint in Satun of their intention to return to the kingdom. The Thais are also required to show a health certificate issued no more than 72 hours previously.
A group of between 250-300 Thais, most of them residents of Satun who worked as crew of Malaysian fishing boats but some of them tourists, began to converge at Wang Kelian checkpoint in Malaysia from about 9am on Saturday. They were denied entry by Thai immigration police at the Wang Prachan checkpoint because they failed to properly follow the procedures set out in the governor's order.
At about 2pm on Saturday, a meeting was held between Thai and Malaysian authorities at the Wang Prachan checkpoint on the Thai side of the border. It was agreed that they would not be allowed to enter the country unless they fulfilled the requirements stated in the governor's order.
Rachada Jivalai, the Thai consul-general at Penang, Malaysia, and Pol Col Thanisorn Saengthanang, the Satun immigration police chief, then emerged from the meeting to tell the stranded Thai nationals of the decision.
At about 5pm, Mr Veeranan, the Satun governor, said the Thai consulate in Penang would speed up the procedures so that the stranded Thais would be able to return home.