Er, what’s my name today?

In some places a person who frequently changes his or her name might fall under suspicion of illegal activity. But in Ubon Ratchathani Province’s Phibun Mungsaharn District it is the pillars of society – school teachers and other career bureaucrats – who change their names most often. Teachers in the district have been heading for the local registrar’s office in droves to change their names, hoping the personal re-branding will bring them improved fortune – such as through promotions or pay rises at work. Aram Somsuay, an accountant with the Ubon Ratchathani Educational Area District 3 Office, said teachers in Phibun Mungsaharn District were among the most prolific name changers. “Some teachers had already changed both their given names and family names four times, persuading their family members to do the same,” he said. One entire family that had recently undergone a complete name change , with better reason than most, were the surviving relatives of deceased Tessabaan 1 School English teacher Dissanee Thongnarkthae, who was murdered and dismembered earlier this month in Bangkok by a Pakistani man she met in an on-line chat room, he noted. Niyom Saisena, Director of Tessabaan 1 School in Ban Potiklang, Phibun Mungsaharn District, said that more than 20 of the school’s 55 teachers had changed both their first and last names at least once at the advice of a colleague who is also a fortune teller. “As a result, I find it hard to remember their names, so now I just call them by their nicknames,” the Director confessed. “It isn’t just in schools, though; it’s common in all civil service departments,” he said. One man who reported positive results from such a name change was teacher Jakkrapan Chaiyingkijsiri, who began life as Somchai Chaiying before going through three name changes. “Before I changed my name I was quick-tempered and moody. After changing names I have calmed down somewhat,” he said. A source in the district registrar’s office revealed that in the first half of May alone, more than 100 people had come to the office to change their names. He noted, however, that among this number were quite a few people who had already changed their names as many as four times and were now changing back to the names their parents had given them at birth.

Thailand News
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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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