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Reactive blogger (~and more~)

Opps, they did it again.

Bilingual man faces deportation
Construction worker insists he is Thai

By Prasit Thangprasert

Bilingual in Thai and Khmer, Somsak Aran, 35, from Buri Ram, and his wife Wandee call for justice. He faces the prospect of being deported to Cambodia because he lacks evidence to prove his citizenship. — PRASIT THANGPRASERT

Somsak Aran, 35, from Buri Ram, is bilingual in the Thai and Cambodian languages, but that skill could also land him in trouble. Somsak, who does not have any identity documents to prove his Thai citizenship, has been charged with illegal entry and could be deported to a neighbouring country where he doesn’t belong.

Mr Somsak, a construction worker in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, insists he was born Thai and makes an honest living.

He was adopted when he was five years old but has a vague memory of his biological mother. He learned from his adoptive mother, Mrs Chuay, 55, that his mother was from Surin.

One day his biological mother asked Mrs Chuay to look after him while she went shopping. She never came back.

Mrs Chuay decided to adopt him but did not report his name to the registry office out of fear that some day his real mother might show up, and accuse her of stealing the boy.

Mr Somsak never went to school because of the lack of identity documents.

However, he has always wanted to obtain an identity card to prove he is a Thai citizen.

His life took another cruel twist when he met a man claiming to be a military officer, who offered to secure him an identity card for 40,000 baht.

He learned the officer was an imposter, but not before he cheated about 20,000 baht out of him.

When he refused to pay any more the immigration police were tipped off that he was an illegal immigrant from Cambodia.

Mr Somsak is now standing trial for illegal entry and cannot produce any documents to prove his nationality.

”Although I can speak Cambodian, I definitely am Thai. Cambodian is commonly spoken by Thai residents in northeastern provinces such as Buri Ram and Surin,” he said.

His 28-year-old wife, Wandee, said her husband is a Thai national through and through and is the breadwinner for their three children. Their lives would become difficult if he was deported to Cambodia.

”Without an identity card, he is not entitled to medical benefits under the 30-baht health insurance scheme when he falls ill,” she said.

Amphoe Thongsaeng, 33, a local businessman, said he believed Mr Somsak is Thai, and his heart went out to the unlucky man who was deceived by a conman.

Mr Somsak was a good Samaritan who had rescued people injured in road accidents, he said.

Mr Somsak had tried to persuade authorities he was Thai, but to no avail.

Source: http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/03Sep2006_news12.php

I still remember the recent trip to Mae Sot that I was asked and questioned about my identification card. I don’t look Thai enough and sometimes this ambiguous appearance could be annoying. However, unlike Bangkok Post’s report on Somsak Aran who were to deport to Cambodia, I made it back to Bangkok everytime. At least my identification card can confirm that I cannot be deported. This story highlight problems faced by undocumented persons all over the country who could face the risk of being deported. No question asked.

The govermnent of Thailand had initiated the national strategy to survey and registered undocumented person in 2005 but the development had been only to conduct survey on school children and then there was no obvious progress announced to the public. Disparity between those with smart card and no-card seems absurd. It does not make any sense to me how can we find someone who do not have any document when smart cards and e passports salutrated the media. In fact they are among other people with smart cards.

They could be treated as minorities who were left behind by survey and registration and only small “margin error” or exception. Nevertheless, this “exception” could endangered their lives and families and threatens their well being. This exception should not be forgotten by civil registration system while they are moving forwards for the majority.

This could happen to any undocumented Thais. They could be deported at anytime until the national strategy will be effectively implemented.

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Filed under: Security, stateless

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