A Foreign Affairs official put it nicely: "Its visa anarchy out there," he said
- and tempers are getting hot.
Foreigners leaving or entering the Kingdom
have been stung by an inter-departmental mess involving
- depending on who you believe - "rogues" within the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MFA) who have no business affixing their signatures to visas; or
"middlemen cheating on visa arrangements".
Airport police have been told
not to accept visas issued to tourists and business people by the
Unless visas for those people have come from the Interior Ministry,
travelers are liable to pay based on some arbitrary fines system - possibly
depending on the mood of any particular airport policeman at the
The Post has anecdotal evidence of some being charged $3 a day;
other fines seem to range from $25 to $300.
A plane was even delayed
while a Malaysian national fruitlessly argued the toss. The Malaysian Embassy
complained about the incident, though later officially denied doing so to the
"They're not getting more bloody money from me," said one irate
Irishman. "I'll stand at the counter and if the plane leaves with my luggage
unaccompanied, they'll be breaking international aviation laws... lets see how
they'll deal with that."
The Interior Ministry recently received 120
complaints from employees at the Naga Resort casino, whose visas were not
recognized by the airport police, Lour Ramin, chief of the Immigration
Department told the Post.
When they complained to the MFA they were told
they had been duped by "rogues" in the office who were not entitled to issue
"Those visas were made by fraudulent means and we cannot recognize
them. The police are investigating the case now," Ramine said.
issues visas to NGOs, diplomats and those at international organizations. The
Interior Ministry issues to all others.
Foreign Affair's consular
department director Long Phol said he had received many complaints from people
whose visas were not recognized by airport police.
He said the victims
bought visas from "offenders who surreptitiously produced fake seals and signed
my signature," he said.
"We know that there were people making the same
seals as we have and they forged our signatures," he said. There were only two
people, including himself, authorized to sign visas.
Ramin said the
Ministry of Interior had issued an inter-departmental warning against those who
secretly issued fake visas. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - which has
temporarily suspended its visa service till the mess is sorted out - say the
Interior Ministry knows who the
"rogues" were, but had not done anything about them. "It is very complicated.
We have complained to the Ministry of Interior many times asking them to crack
down on this visa anarchy." said Phol.
He said police had been
continuously and mistakenly fining those with MFA-issued visas.
police only had the right to examine if the visa is true or fake. They did not
have the right to examine the duration of the visa, nor could they ask to prove
a foreigner was an NGO worker or diplomat, he said.
Lour Ramin denied the
allegation, saying: "It is not police's fault. It was both the rogue who
produced the fake visa and the visa applicant. The applicant should come direct
to have their visa issued. They shouldn't depend on middlemen," he
"We asked the foreigners to show us the ones who ran their visas
but they couldn't because those people had escaped. How can we solve the problem
if the they can not find the visa runners?" he said.