PM Warns Myanmar Nationals of Legal Action for Illegal Entry

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has issued a warning that Myanmar citizens entering Thailand without legal documentation will face legal consequences.

His remarks were in response to a surge in visa applications from Myanmar citizens wishing to enter Thailand. This uptick followed the Myanmar ruling military’s announcement of plans to introduce compulsory military service starting in April.

“They are welcome if they enter the country legally. However, if they enter the country illegally, legal action will be taken against them. I have already discussed this matter with security agencies,” Mr. Srettha stated.

The Prime Minister aimed to alleviate concerns about Myanmar immigrants taking jobs from locals, explaining that the primary reason for the influx of Myanmar citizens into Thailand is to avoid mandatory military service.

Moreover, he pointed out that with Thailand’s unemployment rate being below 1%, there is a need for more laborers from neighboring countries, provided they comply with the legal requirements for working in Thailand.

Anusorn Tamajai, from the Pridi Banomyong Institute at Thammasat University, noted that the draft in Myanmar would impact workers coming to Thailand under bilateral agreements, potentially leading to labor shortages in certain sectors.

He predicted an increase in undocumented Myanmar workers in Thailand as a result of the draft.

To address the influx of individuals fleeing conscription, the Thai embassy in Myanmar announced on their Facebook page a daily limit of 400 visa applications, effective last Thursday.

The embassy also mentioned that Myanmar passport holders could visit Thailand for tourism without a visa for up to 14 days.

Reports from Myanmar suggest a significant number of visa applications at the Thai embassy in Yangon, with estimates of a thousand applicants per day.

According to Reuters, Myanmar’s military government plans to start compulsory military service for young people from April, including recalling retired security personnel, as part of efforts to quell opposition.

Myanmar has been in a state of turmoil since the military seized power from an elected government in a 2021 coup.

Last Saturday, the military stated it would enforce a conscription law for men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 for up to two years, starting in April. This law, introduced in 2010, had not been enforced previously.