Homeless man arrested in China to reunite his family in Thailand

Photo via Facebook/ มิตรภาพสัญจร THAILAND

A homeless man arrested in China four years ago is believed to be a Thai citizen. A family in Lamphun province in the northern part of Thailand believe he is their long-lost brother who went missing 29 years ago.

Chinese immigration police detained the man, who was later identified as 45 year old Prakob Chuasaeng, in 2019 in Tianshui City, Gansu province, after he wandered the city homeless for about a year.

Chinese immigration planned to send him back to his hometown but struggled to obtain any information from him due to the language barrier. A Thai woman was hired to try and help but the 29 year old Sukanya “Faii” Phonraksa, who married a Chinese man, also struggled to communicate with him.

Faii decided to post a missing person announcement on her social media platform to find Prakob’s relatives. The post went viral and attracted the attention of several media outlets.

According to Faii, Prakob seems to have mental health issues as he could not remember many personal details and could not communicate well even in Thai.

Prakob remembers his name and that he is a Thai citizen. He claims to come from the Na Chum Saeng sub-district, Tung Fon district, in Udon Thani province, in the northeastern region of Thailand. He said that he illegally entered China by boat. He took a boat for two days from Udon Thani to China.

Faii asked him to sing Thailand’s national anthem and tell her the Thai alphabet but he couldn’t.

Faii stated that it was impossible to travel by boat from Udon Thani to China in two days but added it would be possible if he came from the northern province of Thailand. She believed Prakob came from a tribe in the north. She then showed him information about each tribe in Thailand until Prakob confirmed that he was part of the Lahu people.

A 50 year old Thai woman, Duangnapa Jai-inkaew, came across the post and contacted Faii, saying she believed Prakob was her younger brother who disappeared from the family home in the Tung Hua Chang district of Lamphun 29 years ago.

Duangnapa had a video call with Prakob where he recognised a picture of himself from his childhood and recognised a picture of his father, whom he referred to as “baba,” father in Chinese.

Duangnapa explained that her brother left home at the age of 15 to work on a fishing boat in Phuket with his friends. While his friends gradually returned home, he did not. The family could not contact him and feared that he might be dead.

The chief of Tung Hua Chang District Office, Jaran Maneesook, stated that he would act as a coordinator between Duangnapa and the Chinese immigration authorities.

He added that the local government department had the fingerprints of Duangnapa’s brother, which could be compared with Prakob. He also mentioned that he would try to perform a DNA test to confirm the man’s identity.

It is unknown why this story has come to light after nearly four years but hopefully there can be a happy ending for all involved.

Homeless man arrested in China to reunite his family in Thailand | News by Thaiger

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Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger focusing on Thai news and what's happening in Thailand. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp.