Thai citizenship likely for one of the Mu Pa team

PHOTOS: The Nation

During the rescue of the Mu Pa 13 from the Tham Luang caves in Chiang Rai it emerged that three of the team members and their 25 year old coach Ekkapol, were ‘stateless’ – caught in a bureaucratic neverland between Thailand and the nearby border Myanmar area which isn’t recognised by the Myanmar government. Their status leaves them with no passport, no ability to apply for bank accounts or get married.

Now, at least one of the four, 13 year old Mongkol Boonpium, has a good chance of securing Thai citizenship.

“We have found his records at a municipal nursery, and although his parents are not Thais they are documented residents of Thailand,” Tambon Wiang Pha Kham Municipality’s clerk Lieutenant Kittichai Charoenying said earlier this week.

“So it is very likely that he was born here in Thailand.”

Thai citizenship likely for one of the Mu Pa team | News by Thaiger

Under Thai law, a person can get Thai citizenship if he is born to a Thai parent or parents, or is born in Thailand.

During the operation to retrieve the team it was revealed that Mongkol, Mu Pa teammates 16 year old Pornchai Khamluang, 14 year old Adul Samon as well as their 25 year old assistant coach Ekkapol Chantawongse are stateless. Since then, there have been growing calls for the four to get assistance with the process of seeking citizenship.

Kittichai this week said his municipality had already told Mongkol’s parents to produce witnesses or further documents to back up their request to recognise the boy’s Thai citizenship.

“The process will take some time. But at this point, it is quite convincing that the boy was born here in Thailand,” Kittichai said.

Ban Pa Meud School director Iam Boriboon said Mongkol had enrolled at his school from Prathom 1.

“We can issue the certification in this regard,” Iam said.

Chiang Rai is a border province with Myanmar, and many people living there lack Thai citizenship papers. Among them is Adul and many of his friends at the Chiang Rai Grace Church.

“To tell the truth, most children at the church do not have Thai citizenship,” said a migrant worker from Myanmar who has already given birth to three sons on Thai soil. She said she has known Adul well since he was very young.

“He’s an orphan. His parents have already passed away,” she said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, she said it would be extremely difficult for Adul to successfully undergo the nationality-verification process, given that he no longer had his parents by his side. By Thai laws, a parent must contact authorities to request Thai citizenship for his or her child.

SOTRY: The Nation

Northern Thailand News

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