More Mani people receive Thai citizenship, ID cards

More Mani people receive Thai citizenship, ID cards

Phatthalung: Another 31 ethnic Mani people, better known in Thailand as Sakai, have been granted the right to hold Thai ID cards and seek health care services under the state's universal coverage health scheme.

Last year, 25 Mani people living in the southern province's Pa Bon district were provided with Thai ID cards after being granted Thai nationality and given the same surname of "Rakpabon", the province's governor, Kukiat Wongkraphan, said.

On Wednesday, 31 more people from Thailand's only ethnic Negrito group living in the Ban That mountain range in Phatthalung's Kong Ra district travelled to the provincial capital to collect their ID cards, the governor.

However, only 25 received ID cards as the rest were too young to register for theirs, Mr Kukiat said.

This latest group were also all given the same surname for their civil registration. This time the surname was "Rakkongra", he said.

These people reside in huts constructed out of bamboo with roofs made of banana leaves and are concentrated in an area of the Ban That range known to locals as Ban Khlong Sai, which is in a fertile watershed forest covering both Phatthalung and neighbouring Trang province, he said.

These people make a living by hunting wild animals, selling items gathered in forests and relying on food offered by villagers in nearby communities and visiting tourists, he said.

There are two main Mani communities in Phatthalung, one in Pa Bon district and the other in Kong Ra district, said an informed source.

It is because they have been living there for generations that they have been considered Thai citizens, the source said.

The Mani, who only number about 300 people, are known to have exceptional skills in hunting animals with blowpipes made of bamboo, the source said.

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