Stateless boy may not join origami contest in Japan

Mong Thongdee

Mong Thongdee

A Myanmar boy has not yet been able to obtain official permission from the Thai government to participate in an origami competition in Japan.

Mong Thongdee was born in Thailand to Myanmar migrant labourers. He was denied Thai citizenship since his parents are Myanmar migrants.

The boy, who has been studying in a primary school in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Mai, won the national paper airplane contest and was invited to compete in Japan’s Origami Plane Association competition from September 19-20.

Mong on Wednesday travelled to the Interior Ministry to meet Chamni Buchasuk, advisor to the Interior Minister and Provincial Administration Department chief Vongsak Swasdipanich to seek official permission to leave the country.

The two senior ministry officials explained that the interior minister has no authority to grant him permission to leave the country since Mong’s parents are Myanmar migrants who entered Thailand in 2004 and are registered as foreign labourers.

If Mong leaves Thailand, they said, he may be unable to return to the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Vimon Kidchob said the ministry is awaiting a letter from the interior ministry asking the ministry to proceed with issuing a one-year travel document for the boy.

Ms Vimon, however, cited previous cases of two students who are not Thai citizens but were issued temporary passports to join a music contest in Korea and further to study in the US. Both were later allowed to return to Thailand.

If the Foreign Affairs Ministry receives the key document from the interior ministry, it can issue one-year yellow passport for Mong with a visa to return to Thailand after finishing the competition.

Legal experts suggested that the interior ministry should consider Mong as a Thai rather than as a son of foreign migrants living in Thailand. (TNA)