In early September this year the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) wrote to international universities advising them that new regulations on foreign research in Thailand had been adopted. The new regulations, which were approved by cabinet in late May 2007, appear to be broadly similiar to the 1982 regulations they have replaced. Based on my quick perusal there do not appear to have been any significant changes to the rules governing foreign researchers (though articles 6 and 32 do appear to enhance the discretionarly power of the NRCT somewhat). Nevertheless one change did catch my eye. Article 4 states that the regulations have been formulated to achieve a number of objectives. The first two are similar to the earlier provisions, emphasising the importance of cooperation and collaboration and promoting Thailand’s development. But the next two are a bit more interesting:

(3) Stabilising the social and economic security of Thailand.

(4) Controlling and regulating the country’s natural resources to ensure that Thailand receives their benefits.

There’s probably no point in reading too much into these objectives – they reflect the current nationalistic times (where security has become the first refuge of a scoundrel) and specific concerns about “biopiracy.” But it will be interesting to see if there is any move to more strictly enforce the current set of foreign researcher regulations. Even without any significant modification on paper there is potential for a new enforcement regime to make life somewhat more difficult for foreign researchers. Are there changes afoot?