Sea gypsies hope better livelihood ahead upcoming local elections

Local elections are coming up and it will be the first time many of Thailand’s Moken tribes, or also known as sea gypsies, will be voting in the Tambon Administration Organisation elections.

The indigenous Moken tribes are known for their lifestyle of semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers for centuries in the Andaman Sea. They are known to be able to hold their breath for long periods of time underwater and free dive what some say are record-breaking depths.

The remaining, elusive Moken dwell on the Surin Islands in Thailand, south of the Mergui Archipelago where other Moken people live. For the tambon, or sub district, elections, voting booths will be set up on the Surin Islands. In the past, Moken people who wanted to vote had to travel four hours by boat to the polling station.

While the polling station on the island will bring in more votes, most of the 300 residents on the islands are ineligible to vote as they lack Thai ID cards. Those who are eligible are looking forward to casting their ballots. Many have high hopes that casting their votes in the local election will help improve the communities and their livelihoods.

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SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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