Stateless Thai cave survivors may get citizenship


Thailand’s Interior Ministry and the Children and Youth Department have, on Thursday, promised to find a way to bestow citizenship on three stateless people rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand.

Coach Ekkapol Chantawong and two of the boys, Pornchai Kamluang and Adul Sam-on, will be receiving legal assistance in the nationality verification process.

However, on Friday the provincial governor, Prachon Pratsakun, denied any favouritism in considering citizenship for the three.

14-year-old Adul Sam-on, at age 6, escaped a territory in Myanmar known for guerrilla warfare, opium cultivation and methamphetamine trafficking.

His parents slipped him into Thailand in the hope that proper schooling would provide him with a better life than that of his illiterate, impoverished family.

Adul lives in a Christian church home with 20 other refugees, most of whom were sent to Thailand by their parents so they could go to school.

Proficient in English, Thai, Burmese, Mandarin and Wa, Adul politely communicated to the British divers his squad’s greatest needs: food and clarity on just how long they had stayed alive.

When a teammate piped up in broken English, “eat, eat, eat,” Adul said he had already covered that point.

“The citizenship application process requires authentication. There’s a clear rule regarding birthright citizenship, if their parents are Thai citizens or not,” Pratsakun said.

“I have to look through the details. It has to be processed according to the regulations.

“There are lots of people along the border who are asking for Thai citizenship at the moment,” he added.

There are currently around 500,000 stateless persons in Thailand.

Some people have to wait for more than 10 years to get Thai nationality.

The process takes a long time because there is insufficient staff at the local administration organisation to handle the very large number of applications.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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