Is Cambodia becoming as anti-expat as Thailand?

Is Cambodia becoming as anti-expat as Thailand?

Is Cambodia becoming as anti-expat as Thailand?

If you’ve been thinking of leaving Thailand and heading for Cambodia, thinking again might be a good idea.

For a while now, as Thailand’s visa and lifestyle rulings have become more and more restrictive for expats, many have decided on neighboring Cambodia as the easiest escape for a quieter, more congenial lifestyle with more personal freedom. Unfortunately, it now seems the Thai government’s restrictions on expats may have inspired the Cambodian authorities to follow suit.

According to an Interior Ministry instruction, a law first introduced in 2010 but not fully followed is now to be enforced in that landlords and property owners are now legally obliged to report foreign tenants within 24 hours of their arrival. The ministry considers the imposition of the rule will ensure security, social safety and public order, without exactly explaining why or considering its words as an insult to foreign residents, especially as it’s intended to ‘strengthen immigration law enforcement’.

A memorandum issued by the ministry contains seven points, with ‘residence owners’ obliged to give details of their foreign tenants or guests to local police within the 24-hour deadline. The order is strikingly similar to that imposed by the Thai government, in that all foreigners staying in guest houses, hotels, renting condos ir even staying with friends are obliged to report or be reported by property owners to local immigration offices within 24 hours. It also applies to foreign home owners and renters who stay elsewhere for even one night away from their given address.

In Thailand, this regulation originally applied to Thai owners of rental properties, hotels and guest houses, but soon became the responsibility of expats themselves as landlords and some hoteliers and guest house didn’t comply. Nowadays, even if a foreign property owner leaves his or her abode overnight, a report must be made to immigration within 24 hours. It also applies to expats owning their homes and married to Thai wives, should a visiting friend stay overnight.

Although the Cambodian version offers slightly more leeway, those who’ve chosen or are planning to move to the country might well see the writing on the wall as regards their future personal freedoms and choose another destination in short order. Or, perhaps, is the new rule a result of the Chinese invasion of Sihanoukville and Siem Reap?

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