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Thailand Elite Visa – History and Perspectives Thailand Elite Card

Thailand Elite Card generates more controversy than revenue for the country – address the problems of the Thailand Elite Card exclusive program

Thailand’s exclusive Elite Card program is back in the public spotlight after Phua Thai MP said in Parliament that shady Chinese businessmen have become members of the privilege program.

The MP’s statement could be another flaw in the Thailand Elite Card program, one of the most controversial government projects that has attracted criticism since its inception, the Bangkok Post reported.

History of the Thailand Elite Card program

Since its inception in 2003, the Thailand Elite Card program has been designed as an exclusive membership program aimed at businessmen, foreign investors and travelers wishing to make short- and long-term trips to Thailand. The goal of the program was to maximize revenue from visitors with high purchasing power.

At the time, the Thai government wanted to attract at least 1 million wealthy members by offering a number of privileges that the private sector could not offer.

The Thailand Elite Card program is controlled and managed by the Thailand Privilege Card Company (TPC), a 1 billion baht state-owned enterprise in which the Tourism Authority of Thailand owns 100 percent.

Its status as a government agency allows TPC to provide many exclusive privileges, such as long-term visas. Last year, Thailand’s cabinet approved a new privilege, a work permit that can be obtained under the “Flexible Plus Program” in exchange for an investment of at least $1 million in Thailand.

Offering a range of exclusive services from the government, the Thailand Elite Card earned the unofficial name “angel card” when it debuted during Thaksin Shinawatra’s premiership. Members of the elite program were perceived as VIP guests, as they were provided luxurious services, starting with their arrival at the airport. A personal assistant in a gold-colored uniform greeted the guest to escort them to the Fast Track lane for expedited immigration clearance and to take care of their luggage before directing them to a waiting limousine.

In addition to a wide range of services to facilitate long-term visa and airport services, the Thailand Elite Card offers additional benefits such as golf, spa, limousine transfers to the airport and medical screenings. In addition, program participants are helped to solve such difficult tasks for foreigners in Thailand, such as obtaining a driver’s license and opening a bank account.

Challenges of the Thailand Elite Card Program

The existence of the Thailand Elite Card program has hung in balance due to political disputes since its inception. In the first 10 years, not only did TPC fail to attract 1 million members as promised, but it also faced a loss of more than 1 billion baht. The losses accumulated mainly because of the “unlimited” services offered by the original card, such as limousines, golf and spa services.

Moreover, since 2,534 cardholders are lifetime members, without a major restructuring, TPC could be at a loss in the long run.

Along with alleged corruption in the organization, which led the travel agency to go to the investigation committee in 2009, Thailand Elite Card has been on the verge of liquidation many times, especially during the Democratic Party-led government. Even with the influence of the government-backed party, this troubled company has never had a rosy path, especially in terms of stability.

On April 26, 2011, the cabinet approved a liquidation plan for TPC, followed by an order suspending the sale of membership to new comers and further financial operations in 2012. At that time, TPC was only allowed to continue serving members to avoid conflict with existing cardholders. However, liquidation was seen as a challenge, as compensation to members was estimated at 2.5-3 billion baht.

TPC was frozen until 2013, when the new government led by the Phua Thai Party and Yingluck Chinnawat as prime minister decided to bring Thailand Elite Card back to life under a revised business plan.

The Thailand Elite Card has also survived under the military government led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ochoi until now, with gradual improvements through cost-saving measures and product redesign.

In fiscal year 2021, TPC recorded its first-ever net profit of 238 million baht, thanks to travel restrictions in Thailand in 2020-21, which helped accelerate card sales as people looked for a shortcut to convenient entry.

One promising market during the pandemic was Chinese customers, as TPC reported 185% sales growth in 2022, representing a 35% increase in card memberships of more than 20,000.

Thailand Elite Card Membership Cost and Privileges

The cost of Thailand Elite Card membership ranges from 600,000 to 2 million baht for a period of five to 20 years.

The most popular scheme is the “Elite Easy Access” with a cost of 600,000 baht for a five-year membership, which does not include any additional services such as golf, spa, medical examination or banking services. Members receive a five-year multi-entry visa, which can also be renewed if the card exceeds five years. Stays in Thailand can last for up to one year for each entry.

Standard services for each membership type are elite personal assistants at the airport on arrival and departure and VIP lounge at the airport.

The Elite Ultimate Privilege (EUP) is the most expensive option at 2 million baht. Valid for 20 years, members can enjoy a full range of services, ranging from unlimited limousine transfers when boarding international flights at Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Samui airports.

The package for 2 million baht also offers 24 visits a year to a golf club, massage and spa, as well as an annual medical checkup and dental checkup.

The two 1-million-baht program options, Elite Superior Extension (ESE) and Elite Privilege Access (EPA), have 20 and 10-year terms, respectively.

Both options have fewer benefits than the most expensive card, such as limited limousine transfers for the EPA and no transfers for the ESE. There is also no free golf and massage for both cardholders, but instead participants will be offered discounts.

In addition to these privileges, cardholders worth 1-2 million baht will be able to apply for the Flexible Plus program if they invest $1 million in Thailand through a real estate, stock exchange or public limited company within 1 year from the date of application.

Eligible program members will be able to request a work permit by changing their preferred entry visa (PE) type to a non-immigrant visa.

How many participants are in the Thailand Elite Card program

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the parent company of TPC, there were 20,884 Thailand Elite Card members in 2022, with clients from 20 countries, which helped generate 3.58 billion baht in revenue for the country.

As of 2022, the majority of active members, or 35%, were Chinese, followed by Japanese (8%) and U.S. citizens (6%). Other regional markets include Southeast Asia, North Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.

The membership program is marketed through appointed agents who have the potential to attract high-end clients. TPC currently has 24 agents.

Upon receipt of an application, TPC conducts a preliminary background check and contacts the Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Consular Affairs of Thailand for a background check. If the result of the background check is positive, TPC sends a letter of approval and the applicant must pay the membership fee and other costs in order to receive the card and enjoy its benefits.

The entire process takes 2-3 months, depending on the applicant’s citizenship, completeness of documents, and review time.

Meanwhile, members still have to report every 90 days if they have a long stay in Thailand, but TPC can do this on its own for certain types of members.

Membership can be revoked if the TPC conditions are not met, the benefits granted are used in a corrupt manner, or the member commits acts that are contrary to public order and morality and affect Thailand Elite Card activities.

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Thailand to distribute nearly 100 million condoms

Thailand to distribute nearly 100 million condoms

Thailand distributes 95 million condoms to fight STDs and teen pregnancy

Thailand plans to distribute 95 million free condoms to fight sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and teen pregnancy. The Southeast Asian country is seeking to promote safer sex in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.

Beginning Feb. 1, universal health card holders can receive 10 condoms a week for a year, said government spokesman Rachada Dhnadirek. The condoms will be available in four sizes and can be purchased at pharmacies and primary care units in hospitals across the country.

“The campaign to distribute free condoms in Thailand will help prevent disease and promote public health,” Rachada said, adding that among the diseases the government seeks to prevent are syphilis, cervical cancer, gonorrhea, chlamydia and AIDS.

STDs in Thailand have been on the rise in recent years, with syphilis and gonorrhea accounting for more than half of the 2,021 cases, according to the latest official figures. The age groups of 15 to 19 and 20 to 24 have the highest number of cases.

In 2021, only 24.4 out of 1,000 Thai girls between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth, according to official figures. The global rate is 42.5 for the same age group in the same year, according to the World Health Organization.

Of the nearly 70 million Thais, about 50 million participate in the government’s universal health care program, also known as the “gold card,” according to the latest government data. The card is used to obtain certain types of medical care at public and selected private hospitals.

Thai universal health card holders are entitled to receive 10 condoms a week for a year.

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Policemen in Thailand extort money from tourists for electronic cigarettes

Pattaya police officer accused of extorting 60,000 baht bribe from foreign tourist for e-cigarette

A Pattaya police senior sergeant has been suspended from duty pending an investigation into an extortion of 60,000 baht from a foreign tourist for possessing an electronic cigarette, the Bangkok Post reported.

The police officer accused of extortion was suspended from duty after a news report and photo display on the television program “Hone Krasae” aired on Channel 3 on Tuesday.

A Chinese tourist guide reportedly sent out a message to his colleagues that a tourist had been detained for an e-cigarette and demanded to pay a fine of 60,000 baht on the spot. After some haggling, the fine was reduced to 30,000 baht.

The incident allegedly took place in Pattaya on January 28 or 29 this year. Upon learning of this, Chonburi Police Chief Major General Kampol Lilaprapakorn sent an urgent letter to Pattaya Police Chief asking for an investigation.

The investigation revealed that the police officer in question in the report was Police Sgt. Maj. Noppakrit Pornwatanathanakij, a Pattaya Traffic Police officer. Major General Kampol transferred the sergeant from Pattaya to the operations center at Chonburi Police Headquarters.

A fact-finding committee has been set up to investigate the alleged bribe extortion. The committee is tasked with collecting and examining all evidence, including security camera footage from the area of the alleged extortion. The committee’s report will be used for trial if it finds grounds to charge the police officer.

Extortion in Bangkok – e-cigarette for 27,000 baht

The incident in Pattaya follows the high-profile case of Taiwanese actress Charlene Ahn, 33, who was extorted by police at a checkpoint near the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok. The actress is also said to have had an e-cigarette.

Through social media, Charlene said that after a search and long talks with the police, she learned she had to pay for her freedom and was released after paying the police 27,000 baht.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said Tuesday that all police officers involved in extorting money from the Taiwanese actress should be brought to justice.

“If there is clear evidence indicating that they committed offenses, they should be held both disciplinarily and legally accountable. Don’t let this problem tarnish the reputation of the entire police service. There are many decent police officers in Thailand, so we must get rid of the crooks,” said the prime minister.

Thailand’s national police chief, General Damrongsak Kittiprapas, also apologized to the public and tourists. The general promised to prosecute the police officers involved if the evidence is found.

CCTV footage shows a police officer allegedly extorting money from a Chinese tourist in Pattaya on January 28
CCTV footage shows a police officer allegedly extorting money from a Chinese tourist in Pattaya on January 28

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Underwater Weddings in Thailand

Every year in February in the south of Thailand in the province of Trang an amazing underwater wedding, a romantic event that will be remembered for a lifetime

Thailand has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best places in the world for weddings and honeymoons. Exchanging vows on a sandy beach against the backdrop of a warm ocean and gently swaying palm trees is certainly romantic. But if you and your partner love scuba diving as much as each other, you can opt for an original wedding in the gorgeous southern Thai province of Trang.

Located on Thailand’s Andaman coast between Krabi and the border with Malaysia, Trang is home to some of the most spectacular islands in the kingdom. And since the mid-1990s, this area of southern Thailand has hosted a festival called the Trang Underwater Wedding.

This unique way of hosting a wedding was originally conceived as a one-time event for a small group of scuba divers, but since the first event, the popularity of underwater weddings in Thailand has grown. In 2000, the event in Trang province was officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest underwater wedding in the world.

Trang’s underwater wedding has become an important event for the province, providing international publicity and boosting the local economy. Couples participating in the annual event come from all over the world and are treated like celebrities during their stay in Thailand. A special flight takes couples from Bangkok to Trang. Upon arrival, the couples are greeted by traditional Thai dancers and showered with flower petals.

An underwater wedding in Trang usually takes place over three days in mid-February and ends on Valentine’s Day, February 14. On the first day, the wedding couples dress in traditional Thai costumes and take part in a Thai wedding parade through the streets of Trang. On the second day, couples take a boat to the site of the underwater wedding ceremony. In the past, this was a location near (Ko) Kradan Island, but in recent years the location is near the Emerald Cave on (Ko) Muk Island.

An underwater wedding in Trang uses many Thai wedding traditions. They include a blessing ceremony and a “rod nam sang” ceremony where water is poured over the bride and groom’s hands from a seashell. All of this creates amazing wedding photos, with some participants wearing wedding dresses or tuxedos along with their snorkeling gear.

Underwater, a representative from the Trang District Office becomes the witness and approves the ceremonial waterproof marriage certificate. After lunch, a celebration takes place on Pak Meng Beach. The next day, the couple visits important temples and shrines in Trang City to make offerings that will bring good luck in the marriage.

The Trang Underwater Wedding Festival prides itself on its diversity and is open to all. Even if you are already married, you can take part in a vow renewal ceremony. If you want to participate in a water wedding ceremony, you and your partner must be qualified divers and must have your own wetsuit, masks and flippers.

Although it’s a fun event and a memorable way to start family life, organizers are keen to promote eco-tourism in Trang and note that the venue has been carefully chosen so as not to damage the marine environment. The event is organized by the Trang Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by various groups including Thai Airways and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

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Controversy Surrounding The Thailand Elite Visa Scheme.

The visa offers multiple-entry residency for periods ranging from 5 to 20 years in exchange for a cash payment, ranging from 600,000 to 2 million baht.

Despite its lack of ongoing financial record requirements and compulsory medical insurance, the Elite visa has proven popular among property owners and retirees from various nationalities, with an estimated 20,000 holders.

While the Elite visa does not include a work permit, the Thailand Privilege program provides a fast-track option. In comparison to the 10-year Long-Term Residence visa or the 10-year O/X Retirement visa, the Elite visa has simpler documentary requirements, making it the most preferred long-term choice.

However, there are concerns that the screening process for the Elite visa may not be stringent enough, with some individuals slipping through the cracks despite the requirement for Thai police clearance. There are also worries that some Elite visas have been approved abroad at inflated costs without proper checks.

In 2022, a large number of Elite visa inquiries came from Chinese applicants. Given recent allegations of corruption within the Thai police, particularly regarding the awarding of student visas to uninterested foreigners, there are potential dangers in issuing Elite visas without proper verification. Some Elite visas allow for the immigration of spouses and dependents at minimal additional cost.

Several countries, such as the UK, have had to cancel similar semi-permanent or quasi-citizenship visas following publicized scandals. As Thailand emerges from the pandemic, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks of extended stays through the Elite visa program.

Conor McGregor hit by car while cycling in Ireland

Conor McGregor was hit by a car while cycling in his native Ireland yesterday. The 34-year-old MMA fighter shares images on social media of the bicycle accident, in which his bicycle is in the middle of the road, and his injuries.

“IT GOES WELL”

“I just got hit by a car from behind,” the former lightweight world champion writes in a post on Instagram. The photo shows McGregor’s bike lying on the ground. In a video in the same post, the driver of the car can be heard apologizing profusely. “Don’t worry too much,” McGrgor reassures the man. “I am fine.”

“THANK GOD, WRESTLING AND JUDO”

The MMA fighter says in his message that the car drove right through him at full throttle. The driver of the car couldn’t see McGregor because of the low sun. “So I could have been dead.” He thanks God, wrestling and judo that it wasn’t his time. “My sport taught me how to fall safely. That saved my life.”

PAINFUL BUTTOCK

McGregor’s clothes have fared less well. There is a big rip in his pants. Once home, the MMA fighter also found out that his buttock has suffered a major scratch. He shares this with a (now very popular) photo on Instagram

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Airbnb landlord in shock after returning home: “Drugs, condoms, feces”

It’s probably every host’s nightmare on Airbnb: you come back to your house and see that it’s a big mess. It happened to Anouk, who took her followers on TikTok last month in the havoc she found. The video is going viral again this week and that’s not surprising. She had to forcefully evict the tenant from the house, while she encountered drugs, condoms and feces in the house.

‘THE OTHER SIDE’

In general, people think that you can earn a lot of money easily by renting out your home. Anouk wants to show with her video that this is not self-evident. “This is the other side of Airbnb hosting,” she begins her video. She must warn viewers of what they are about to see. “I’m about to put up a file. It doesn’t look good…”

There are even blood stains on the roller blind and on the wall.

Anouk

DRUGS, CONDOMS, FECES

Before Anouk shows what the damage is, she says that the tenant did not want to leave the house on his own. “We had to force him out.” In addition, there were also people who had not registered in advance. “Dealers even came to the door.”

@anoukfixthet

On the bright side: nu kunnen we met allemaal nieuwe/vernieuwde spullen in 2023 weer lekker opnieuw gaan hosten! 💪🏼 Alles komt altijd goed 💖 #airbnbhosting #airbnb #airbnbcheck #badairbnbguests #keepingitreal #reallife #realtalk #dutchtiktok #dutchtok

♬ original sound – Anouk Molenaar

Anouk lacks words to describe what she finds in her house. “My beautiful home… Everything has been demolished. There is blood everywhere. There are feces, drugs, condoms.” The big question is what happened in the house. “There are even blood stains on the roller blind and on the wall.” In addition, there is a laughing gas tank in the middle of the room and her sofa, mattress, sheets and bedding have been demolished.

‘EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE’

It is admirable that Anouk, despite the repulsive behavior of the tenant, wants to highlight the situation from the positive side. “On the bright side: we can start hosting again in 2023 with all new stuff. Everything always works out,” she writes with the video on TikTok.

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Woman (76) arrested for shooting husband in hospital

Woman (76) arrested for shooting husband in hospital

A 76-year-old Florida woman has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder after shooting her terminally ill husband to death in the hospital. That reports Fox News. The police suspect that the couple had decided to take their own life together, but that the woman was unable to carry out the plan. The woman is being held without bail.

PLANNED

The police confirm that it was a planned action. “Because he was terminally ill, they had a conversation about it and planned it about three weeks ago,” the police chief explained. ” If things continued to go downhill for him, he wanted her to end it.” After the woman shot her husband, she would have begun to have doubts about taking her own life.

SWAT-TEAM

After the woman shot her husband, she locked herself in a room and refused to put down her gun. The whole scene lasted about 3.5 hours until a SWAT team managed to get her out of the room.

The woman is now charged with first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

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Squid Game reality TV contestants threaten Netflix with lawsuit over ‘inhumane’ treatment

Dozens of participants of the upcoming Squid Game reality show would like to sue Netflix. This is reported by The Sun. The participants claim to have been treated like animals.

HOURS IN THE COLD

The complaints would mainly concern the first game in the series, called ‘red light, green light’, in which participants say they had to stand in the freezing cold for hours. ” We were tortured for eight hours. We were just fodder. You wouldn’t treat animals like that,” one participant told The Sun. Another participant describes that participants collapsed during the game. “Her head hit the floor and it reverberated through the studio before she kind of had a stroke.”

Netflix has denied in a response that participants were seriously injured during the games. According to them, there were only three participants who needed short-term medical attention.

SQUID GAME: THE CHALLENGE

Netflix brings the popular South Korean series to life with the reality game show Squid Game: The Challenge. With 456 contestants and a $4.56 million prize pool, it will be the biggest show ever in reality TV history. Just like in Hwang Dong-hyuk’s original series, the candidates compete against each other in a knockout race, consisting of both familiar and new games.

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Man gets 45 years in prison for attempted murder inspired by Jeffrey Dahmer’s actions

Man gets 45 years in prison for attempted murder inspired by Jeffrey Dahmer’s actions

A man in Louisiana has been sentenced to 45 years in prison for kidnapping and attempting to murder a man he met on the dating app Grindr. The perpetrator, 21-year-old Chance Seneca, was inspired by serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed 17 men and boys in the 1980s after picking them up in gay bars.

HUNTING AREA

Seneca called the dating app popular within the LGBTQ+ community a real “hunting ground”. He met his victim here, 18-year-old Holden White. After chatting for a while, Seneca asked him on a date and took him to a secluded house in Lafayette. Seneca asked White to handcuff, then choked and beat him up with a bat. The psychopath then slit White’s wrists because he “wanted to keep his hands as a keepsake.” However, when he saw the bone, he panicked.

911

When it turned out that Seneca couldn’t cut White’s wrists all the way through after all, he put him in a bath. Here he hit the victim on the head with a hammer and then stabbed him in the neck. Just before midnight, Seneca called 911. On the 911 call, he said he had tried to strangle someone, but it was “his fault. ”

SURVIVED

Miraculously, White survived the attack. He was in a coma for several days and suffered serious injuries from the atrocities; both physically and mentally. White has told the judge by telephone that he does not think the sentence is fair. He had asked for life in prison, writes The New York Times.

“COMPULSIVE MURDER FANTASY”

US prosecutors told the court that Seneca was “trying to satisfy a compulsive murder fantasy” and that he “intended to continue doing so until he was caught or killed” . Before the attack on White, he would have already tried to lure another man to the remote house.

JEFFREY DAHMER

Seneca wouldn’t have just come up with these ideas. He is said to have been inspired by the actions of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Dahmer’s crimes were terrible; from cannibalism to necrophilia. Dahmer’s story became a lot more famous in a short time because of the Netflix series about the life and deeds of the terrible killer.

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