By VISARUT SANGKHAM
THAILAND is more secure now thanks to a new screening system at the recently opened Thai Immigration 24/7 centre in Suan Plu, according to authorities.
The system uses an “Advanced Passenger Processing System” (APPS) to stop “undesirable” foreigners from coming to Thailand based on data gathered at their point of origin.
Police Lt-General Nathathorn Prousoontorn, chief of the Immigration Bureau, told The Nation that the APPS would screen incoming passengers before a decision was made whether to let them in to the country.
The APPS gathers passenger information from airlines flying to Thailand based on the data collected at the check-in airline service counters, including name, gender, nationality and country of residence. That data are sent to the APPS database along with the flight number and passenger seat number.
“Before the APPS system, information about passengers or any travellers coming to Thailand would be collected and sent to the Immigration Bureau by paper files, but now collecting it as electronic information and using the APPS system to handle the data, we can monitor incoming passengers in real time,” Nathathorn said.
He added that criminal data from Interpol would be linked to the APPS system this year so authorities could intercept criminals coming in to the country.
The system was set up this month at the newly opened Thai Immigration 24/7 Centre and at major airports. APPS is already in use in other countries such as Japan, Canada, China, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The system is being used alongside other security tools including the Personal Identification Blacklist Immigration Control System, the Case Management Intelligence System, CCTV surveillance and the CRIMES system. All of these systems are operated and monitored by the Immigration 24/7 Centre, which aims to be the hub of Thailand’s immigration procedures and help to improve national security.
The immigration centre at Suanplu’s Immigration Division One will have officers monitoring incoming data 24 hours a day.
Nathathorn added that the new APPS system could also help to address non-criminal issues such as the recent Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) case in which a 71-year-old man with the virus travelled to Thailand from Oman.
The new system could almost instantly provide information about other passengers who were sitting near the man and who might be at risk – a process that previously could have taken up to a day.