By THE NATION
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, as head of the National Council for Peace and Order, used his absolute power under Article 44 to order the policy change.
The TM6 arrival and departure cards will no longer be required for Thai nationals, Sansern said.
The order will be published in the Royal Gazette and come into effect tomorrow. The form was to be scrapped with effect from October 1, but all concerned agencies were ready to implement it earlier, he said.
Long queues and delays faced by tourists at Thailand’s airports had made headlines around the world and were heavily discussed on social media over the summer.
The cancellation of TM6 for Thais was one of the measures to help relieve overcrowding at airports. Prayut also ordered the Royal Thai Air Force to dispatch personnel to help immigration officials at Don Mueang airport.
Critics, however, said the scrapping of the TM6 for Thais would not be a great help in speeding up processing at immigration counters because Thai passport holders already have separate counters, adding that the measure would not do anything to reduce the long queues encountered by foreign visitors.
The present TM6 forms will be used by foreigners until the stocks run out, after which a new form with fewer questions will be introduced.
Earlier, the Immigration Bureau maintained that foreigners needed to fill out the forms due to security reasons. In August, Singapore became the first country to be allowed to use automated immigration lanes at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Singaporean tourists do not need to register with the Thai immigration office to use the gates. The system will simply record their information and fingerprints at the gates for identification during future trips.