Bangkok Bureaucracy: Model of Efficiency?!?

I’ve always accepted it as a local oddity that Bangkok residents are required to be registered to a specific home address, and that such housing registrations are required as a matter of course for all legal applications (job applications, loan applications, credit card applications). I never had to give it much thought, since I’ve been registered to my aunt’s home for the past 10 years and never really had to deal with it. Before, that is.

A few weeks ago, the wife dragged me to the local district administration office so that we can both change our long-standing registered addresses to that of our new house, into which we will be moving next month. I couldn’t imagine which tooth I wouldn’t rather pull out sans novocaine over the brain-rot I would suffer waiting for some local bureaucrat to endlessly shuffle paper back and forth processing our change of registration, no doubt in some 40-year old dungeon masquerading as an office building.

Imagine my surprise to walk into a brightly lit, trendily decorated atrium-type hall, reminiscent of some modern, comfy customer service center. And the desks! The uncluttered desks, upon which rested brand new Pentium machines which the civil servants manipulated with frightening proficiency.

After our forms were processed, we were shunted over to another counter to apply for new ID cards, and here I thought, “This is it. Here is were he get passed around from one desk to the next, after which we will eventually have our picture taken for an ID card which might hopefully be mailed to us before the paint job on our new house starts to fade.”

Wrong again, bucko! Bureaucrat #2 takes all of 10 minutes processing our forms before she hands us off to Bureaucrat #3, who takes a mere 2 minutes prepping us to have our picture taken by a new-fangled digital camera, connected to a machine which spits out a brand-new, laminated magnetic-strip ID card 30 seconds later. Total elapsed time = 30 minutes, barely enough time to get through half a chapter of the very thick novel I expected to plow through. I’m flabbergasted.

The wife later told me that the new city governer pushed through some regulation that requires district offices to process routine applications within 15-30 minutes, or else be open to civil lawsuits by citizens. And sure enough, here was a system that was completely stream-lined without cutting corners or quality, found smack-dab in the heart of the Bangkok bureacracy. Time for Satan to buy a winter coat…

4 Comments so far

  1. Ben Harris (unregistered) on December 20th, 2004 @ 2:32 pm

    I can’t wait until they apply that policy to Thai Immigration, the Department of Labour and the Police force (the only three departments I have to deal with).

  2. scuba (unregistered) on December 20th, 2004 @ 6:30 pm

    Housing registration is handled by the Bangkok Metropolitan Association (BMA), which is now run by Apirak, the Democrat Bangkok Governor (sort of a mayor); immigration, labor and cops are all under Thai government ministries, so I wouldn’t hold my breath!

    Come to think of it, Apirak hasn’t been governor for that long – just a few months, right? That seems an awefully short time to set up the system, get the equipment, and train everyone to use it… though it’s hard to believe that the last governor, Samak, had the time to get all this done, what with his weekly tv cooking show and all…

  3. isriya (unregistered) on December 21st, 2004 @ 12:35 pm

    this new efficient process in Administrative Office has been taken place for long time. (Maybe 3-5 years) The Administrative Minitry was awarded many times for using IT in their work.

  4. Ben Harris (unregistered) on December 21st, 2004 @ 1:36 pm

    I recomment Apirak for Prime Minister in that case!

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