Thailand and Malaysia have closed their checkpoints along the common border to stem the COVID-19 spread. The two countries do not allow entry by foreigners via these checkpoints except their own citizens.
After the border closure, Satun governor Veeranan Pengchan issued Order 642/2020 to allow Thai nationals to return to Thailand via Wang Prachan immigration checkpoint in Satun.
To be eligible, the Thai nationals are required to contact the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur or a Thai consulate in Malaysia to get a letter of certification. After that the embassy or the consulate is to notify the immigration checkpoint in Satun of their intention. The Thais are also required to obtain a health certificate which are issued not longer than 72 hours previously.
A group of between 250-300 Thais, most of them from Satun who worked as crew of Malaysian fishing boats and some of them tourists, began to converge at Wang Kelian checkpoint in Malaysia from about 9am yesterday.
However, they were denied entry by the Thai immigration police at the Wang Prachan checkpoint because they failed to properly follow the procedures set in the governor’s order.
At about 2pm yesterday, a meeting was held between Thai and Malaysian authorities at the Wang Prachan checkpoint on the Thai side of the border. It was agreed that they would not be allowed to enter the country unless they properly take the steps stated in the governor’s order.
After that Rachada Jivalai, the Thai consul-general at Penang, Malaysia, and Pol Col Thanisorn Saengthanang, the Satun immigration police chief, emerged from the meeting to tell the Thais of the decision.
At about 5pm, Mr Veeranan, the Satun governor, said the Thai consulate in Penang would speed up the procedures so that the stranded Thais would be able to return home.