Genetic test to aid displaced Thais
text size

Genetic test to aid displaced Thais

Nationality can be proven in Malaysia

People register to have their nationality verified at the Thai consulate in Kota Bharu, in the Malaysian state of Kelantan. The process was launched to grant citizenship to displaced Thais who have been living in the neighbouring nation. (Photo: Wassayos Ngamkham)
People register to have their nationality verified at the Thai consulate in Kota Bharu, in the Malaysian state of Kelantan. The process was launched to grant citizenship to displaced Thais who have been living in the neighbouring nation. (Photo: Wassayos Ngamkham)

MALAYSIA: The Foreign Affairs Ministry has joined hands with the Justice Ministry to provide a genetic test for displaced Thai nationals in the border city of Kota Bharu in Malaysia.

The project is supported by the Royal Thai Consulate-General of Kota Bharu, the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) and the Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) of Thailand.

Nathapol Khantahiran, deputy permanent secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said the project aims to prove Thai nationality for those displaced people whose Thai citizenship status was left out so that they can have their first Thai identification (ID) cards issued.

Phasit Chudabuddhi, consul-general of Kota Bharu, said the project has been going on since 2017, despite being paused from 2020–2022 due to Covid-19.

The number of participants has been growing annually, starting from 74 in its first year to 90 in 2018, 92 in 2019, 97 in 2023, and 235 this year, said Mr Phasit.

The project resumed in 2023 after a three-year suspension, with 97 people participating in the DNA test and the government able to issue 89 birth certificates and 70 ID cards at the One Stop Service Centre in Narathiwat's Kolok district.

"The increasing number of participants shows the project's success as well as the positive feedback from the people who were tearful with happiness when they received their first ID cards. They were accepted as Thai citizens," he added.

The people are also eligible for other benefits including the right to enrol in the formal education system and access job opportunities. It also helped them access medical treatments supported by the National Health Security Office (NHSO).

"The project was designed to help with people's wellbeing. They should receive the rights they are entitled to," said Mr Phasit.

Kuheng Yawohasun, secretary to the Justice Minister, said he wanted to invite the Social Development and Human Security Ministry to join the project, as some participants included children and pregnant women who need support from the ministry.

"We are trying to find a solution to the unrest in the deep South and we believe issuing ID cards to those who are misplaced and living in a border town in the neighbouring country is one of the best solutions to tackle the conflicts in the southern provinces," he said.

Worawee Chaiwut, CIFS deputy director, said the project is expected to be completed within five years.

He said CIFS also tried to verify stateless people in both Thailand and Malaysia. In Thailand there are about 990,000 are stateless people who need to have their DNS test.

Sommai Boonkliang, assistant to the SBPAC's secretary, said the SBPAC followed up with some people after they received their ID cards and many said it was as if they had gained a new life.

Worawut Phongprapapan, director general of the Consular Affairs Department, said that despite the project's success, some legal amendments would be needed to mitigate any attempts to sell the ID cards.

Regarding the response, one participant, identified only as Rosmi, said she was delighted with the project settling in the city as it helped with the process of gaining her secondborn child citizenship without a service charge. She spent at least 8,000 baht for the same process for her first child in Thailand, she said.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (5)