CityNews – On 27th February, 2019, HM Consul, Paul Kaye invited a small group of people who have been known to assist the embassy and consulate on various matters to the Anantara for cocktails. The group consisted of residents such as Lf. Colonel Ron Ray secretary of the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery, Heather Smith from McKean Rehabilitation Centre, Katherine McDaniels who has been visiting foreign prisoners in Chiang Mai prisons every week for decades and the editor of Citylife, for various media support over the years.
HM Consul Kaye told CityNews that this year the consulate aims to launch a campaign focused on British nationals between the ages of 16-25, warning them of the dangers on Thailand’s roads. “This age group is young and feel carefree when on holiday,” said Kaye, “we need to get the message across that while a holiday can be very enjoyable, it simply isn’t worth taking risks which could land them in very bad situations, even worse.”
Last year the consulate, which has 30 full time employees, saw 68 Brits hospitalised in Thailand from road accidents, resulting in twelve deaths. The total British deaths last year in Thailand was 459. So concerned about these road dangers, that Britain is the only foreign office which is represented in the National Steering Committee to Reduce Motorcycle Accidents, representing 15 other embassies. Kaye said that there were a total of 1,466 assistance cases in 2018, which overstretches staff resources, but is manageable.
When asked about complaints from many Brits about lack of support regarding financial documents, which has led many British citizens to have to put large sums of money into their account in lieu of proof of financial affairs in order to attain visas, Kaye explained that “We do not have means to verify the financial statements of individuals and the Thai authorities were treating those documents as reliable statements, which we couldn’t put our stamp to, so we are now working with the authorities to find better processes.”
He went on to say that he understood how difficult it was for many when the regional offices were closed, but that the consulate will always be there to assist the most vulnerable when needed.
“We have the biggest single consular team in the world,” said Kaye, who estimates that there are around 73,000 British expats living in Thailand, while around one million come for visits annually. One thing I would like to urge your readers, especially the elderly or those who have lived here for so long they may have become complaisant, is to please always check their visas to make sure they aren’t expired. This can lead to a lot of trouble, trust me, the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) is not a nice place to be stuck in, and there are people who have been there for years.”
As a parting message, Kaye also asked us to remind British visitors that vaping is illegal in Thailand, “people miss that,” he added.