Stranded Thais allowed to enter Satun

Stranded Thais allowed to enter Satun

The Wan Prachan checkpoint in Khuan Don district in Satun, opposite the Wang Kelian pass, Perlis state of Malaysia. (Bangkok Post file photo)
The Wan Prachan checkpoint in Khuan Don district in Satun, opposite the Wang Kelian pass, Perlis state of Malaysia. (Bangkok Post file photo)

SATUN: Almost 300 Thai nationals left stranded at the Wang Kelian immigration checkpoint in Malaysia's Perlis state on Saturday night were allowed to enter Thailand, but they were required to place themselves into quarantine for 14 days at home, the Satun governor said on Sunday.

Governor Veeranan Pengchan said the 280 Thais were initially denied entry to Thailand after failing to follow procedures set by Thai authorities when they arrived at the Thai-Malaysian border checkpoint on Saturday. Thai authorities later solved the problem by asking the Thai embassy in Malaysia to issue health certificates to them, he said.

Mr Veeranan said the 280 Thais, both Buddhists and Muslims, had entered into Malaysia to work at restaurants and the fishing industry. On Saturday they scrambled to return to Thailand after they heard the kingdom was to shutter its Thai-Malaysian border checkpoints. 

" These Thais have their temperature checked and they do not have fever. They have to quarantine themselves for 14 days at home under the close control of local authorities in each province,'' he said. 

The decision to allow them to return to Thailand was made after a meeting between Thai and Malaysian authorities at the Wang Prachan checkpoint on the Thai side of the border, opposite to the Wang Kelian immigration checkpoint in Malaysia's Perlis state.

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, the Satun governor 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 280 Thais, most of them residents of Satun who worked as crew of Malaysian fishing boats but some of them tourists, began to converge at the Wang Kelian checkpoint in Malaysia from about 9am on Saturday. They were initially 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.

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