BUKIT KAYU HITAM: Thai immigration now wants Malaysian motorists entering the country from Kedah to provide passenger "manifests" in a move believed to be part of the kingdom's effort to stop human-trafficking activities.
Foreigners going in and out of the kingdom are required to fill out two additional forms, the "Information of Conveyance Form" (TM.2) and the "Passenger List Form" (TM.3).
This ruling was conveyed to Kedah Immigration Department, which then issued a letter to the Bukit Kayu Hitam and Durian Burung Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security (ICQS) complex.
The letter stated that the policy came into effect yesterday.
It is learnt that the notice came from the Songkhla Immigration office at the end of October, announcing that the new forms must be filled out starting yesterday.
This red-tape is expected to cause delays for Malaysians driving into Thailand in their private vehicles at Bukit Kayu Hitam, which is among the busiest entry points to Thailand.
Previously, motorists only needed to show their passports and vehicle registration certificates, while such forms were only required for minivans and express buses crossing the border.
No reason was given by the Thai border authority on the new policy. It is understood that Malaysian drivers can obtain the forms at immigration counters on the Thai side, and the Malaysian Immigration Department personnel have been disseminating the information to locals at the border checkpoint.
It is also understood that Thai-registered vehicles entering Malaysia need not fill in any other documents besides showing travelling documents and car registration certificates.
Kedah Immigration Department director Mohamad Yusri Hashim, said the ruling was not only imposed on the ICQS in Kedah, but at checkpoints in other bordering states as well.
"This is a national policy and I think it is better for the Home Ministry to comment on it. I think such a policy may be good for security in both countries," he said.
Tourism Authority of Thailand public relations manager C. Somboon believed that tourism would not be much affected.
"Maybe it would cause inconvenience at the early stage, but people will get used to it," he said, and agreed with Mohammad Yusri that the move would boost border security.
The Malaysia-Thai border has seen numerous trans-border crimes such as vehicle and goods smuggling, as well as human trafficking.
Mass graves and detention camps for Rohingya and Bangladeshi people were also found at Wang Kelian, Perlis, in May.