First auto passport screening – disturbing education gap

Thailand’s first auto passport screening

THE immigration office at the Thai-Lao Friendship bridge in Nong Khai opened a new extra immigration checkpoint called auto-channel, an automated passport-screening gate last Sunday (May 28).

The Thai Immigration Police Bureau chief Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn said at the gate’s opening ceremony which was attended by his Lao counterpart Lt Col Saysaming Sivilai and other officials that the new approach was intended to boost security and speed up the immigration process for Thai passport holders.

He added that the automated passport-screening system or “auto-channel” is connected to a database of criminals. When the required fingerprints is obtained from the gate’s device, it would search the database and display a match of those who are wanted under arrest warrants, those using fake passports or passports belonging to others, and those declared persona non-grata.

Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn said that this was part of Thailand 4.0 program and the system has been very effectively used at Suvarnabhumi Airport. The system is planned to be installed at other checkpoints such as Songkhla, Sa Kaeo’s Aranyaprathet and Tak’s Mae Sot later on.


Top: Passengers going through Thailand’s first passport auto-channel in Nong Khai. Photo:

TDRI calls for narrowing education gap


THE research director of the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) Kirida Bhaopichitr spoke last Friday at the “Reforming Thailand’s Education System: Where to Start?” forum, advising the government to try to narrow that gap between rich and poor students in urban and rural areas, which can be seen in academic performance, literacy rates and student IQs.

Ms Kirida said the Pisa scores of schoolchildren in Bangkok were actually similar to those of their peers in the United States, while the youth in the rest of Thailand got very low scores. The latest Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) test also reveals similar results.

According to the TDRI research, the first grade pupils inside and outside Bangkok have a wide gap in their Thai language literacy scores at 47% and 16% respectively.

The research also indicated that students in small-size schools or in remote areas where there are fewer than 20 students per class were found to have much lower scores than those in cities in both national and international tests.

Ms Kirida then suggested the idea of merging small schools with fewer than 20 students per class and increasing access to pre-school education saying these steps are imperative if the government wants to narrow the education gap in Thailand.


Above: Ms Kirida drew attention to the huge education gap in this country. Photo:

Kerry Express finds parceled grenades


AROUND 1 pm on June 2, police were contacted by Kerry Express Bang Khen branch on inbound Paholyothin Road regarding grenades in a parcel with no recipient to return to.

The branch staff member Ratchanikorn Sujipratch, 37, said the package was sent off on May 6 but returned to sender because there was no one to receive the parcel at the destination in Chon Buri’s Phanat Nikhom district. Without contact from either the sender or the recipient for a long time, the staff went on a clearing process only to find the shocking parcel content. They immediately called the police.

The police officers along with an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team inspected the package and identified four M67 grenades with 5- to 10-meter killing radius inside the box and secured them for further inspection.

The sender’s details on the box only showed the name of a man,  Isarapong (last name withheld), from Bangkok with a phone number but no other postal address. The recipient’s name was written as “Mac”, followed by his address in Chon Buri’s Phanat Nikhom district.

Update: At the time of this writing, the police have searched the same delivery service branch and found another parcel from the same sender with 4 grenades and 100 rounds of rifle ammunition inside.


Above: A member of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit shows a grenade found in a parcel at Kerry Express. Photo:

By Piboon Awasdaruharote


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