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Story Of My Thai Citizenship Application

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This is a very interesting thread, and the contributions by Arkady in particular are amazing. Most informative stuff I've ever read on a Thai forum.

I thought I had absorbed most of the information concerning Thai naturalisation, but one remark by Arkady caught me off guard:

"...an elderly man and is allowed a fast track naturalization as a Thai on the grounds that he is a former citzen, although naturalized Thais are not permitted to hold public office;"

What? I had always thought that, if the incredibly unlikely event of my gaining Thai citizenship had occurred, I could stand for office, get elected to Parliament, and eventually work my way up to be a person of at least intermediate political clout and status: say Interior Minister! Is this not true? Has my dream been shattered?

Can I not even become a Provincial Governor? Kamnan? Poo Yai Ban?

Seriously, it sounds very discriminatory: 2 classes of citizen in the one country.

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I have done some more research in the Royal Gazette to investigate revocation of nationality.

...

1. Thais by descent (born to a Thai parent). The wording of the 1952 Nationality Act that was in force prior to the 1965 was unequivocal on this issue," A person of Thai nationality who has been naturalised as an alien shall lose Thai nationality". However, the language was softened in Section 22 of the 1965 so as to become ambiguous, "A person of Thai nationality who has been naturalised as an alien, or who has renounced Thai nationality, or whose Thai nationality has been revoked, shall lose Thai nationality."

Hi Arkady, with respect I don't see why you say the 2nd version is a softened version of the first version, and the second version is now ambiguous.

The first version says "A person 'B' shall lose Thai nationality", and the second version says "A Person 'B' , 'C' or 'D' shall lose Thai nationality"

In both cases 'B' shall lose Thai nationality. You've also said elsewhere that the clause is now ambiguous. I dont' see why it's any more or less ambiguous than the older clause.

Regards

N

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Earlier in this thread there was much discussion about revocation of original citizenship for foreigners naturalising as Thais. There was a new requirement mentioned to submit an affidavit of the intention to revoke one's original citizenship, certified by one's embassy.

Arkady and others discussed whether this sort of thing would ever be enforced, e.g. would the authorities check up on naturalised Thais to see whether they had revoked their former citzenship, etc.

I just read in another forum some information on this matter:

The Ministry of Interior came to Chiang Mai Grandview Hotel on Thursday, June 16, 2010 to answer a few questions and to determine what expatriate residents, consulates and the media feel are needed changes in some of the fundamentals of life for foreigners in Thailand.

Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Kwanchai Wongnitkorn opened the session asking for people to contribute their ideas freely to the symposium.

Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior Kwanchai Wongnitkorn opened the event by remarking to the crowd that this was the second such conference, one had been held in Bangkok in February and another was planned for Songkhla. He told the gathered crowd that included Mrs. Junko Yakata, the Japanese Consul General, Ben Svasti Thomson, the British Honourary Consul, Chinese Consul General Zhu Weimin, and other representatives of consulates in Chiang Mai that they had been assigned by the Ministry of Interior to discuss ideas. He said the Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva wanted the Ministry to see if the government has any room for improvement or anything it can extend to its expatriate residents to help promote investment and habitation rights.

<skip>

The first issue of naturalization to Thai citizenship by foreigner was addressed by the Department of Provincial Administration representative.

...

The official pointed out that if those people who naturalize as Thai citizens are found using the passport of their previous country the Thai citizenship will be revoked. Applicants must relinquish their previous nationality and the Ministry of Interior will report their cases to their embassies.

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That is one interpretation of the law. The law indeed states something like that one cannot use your original nationality. But it is unclear what that means. A judge will have to rule on that.

It does not say you cannot keep your original nationality.

But immigration does have instructions to report people with Thai nationality who use another countries passport to enter.

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Confirmed: you must be a natural born Thai to hold any office, from pooyaibaan up.

Not unlike the requirements for the US presidency.

That is the only restriction of which I am aware for naturalized citizens...other than the fact that you must wait five years before you can vote. Presumably to prevent politicians from granting large number of citizenship to hilltribes or others, in exchange for votes.

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Confirmed: you must be a natural born Thai to hold any office, from pooyaibaan up.

Not unlike the requirements for the US presidency.

That is the only restriction of which I am aware for naturalized citizens...

How about the rule that says you can have your citizenship revoked if you "commit any act contrary to public order or good morals". That's a restriction that doesn't apply to home-grown nationals! So for example naturalised Thai goes to a peaceful demonstration supporting a particular shirt colour (which should be his right as a full-fledged citizen). That shirt colour suffers a crack down, and he is arrested ... revocation?

This of course may sound flippant - a contrived example. Foreigners shouldn't get involved in matters that only concern Thais, right?!:)

other than the fact that you must wait five years before you can vote. Presumably to prevent politicians from granting large number of citizenship to hilltribes or others, in exchange for votes.

I don't think being an MP in Thailand can be in any way equated to the US Presidency! :)

And if that is put forward as an excuse for this discriminatory rule, I don't accept it - most western countries allow naturalised citizens to hold office, and in most cases allow them to hold any office. (I must say that it's not a big surprise to hear of such a rule.)

How about a person with citizenship through being born in Thailand of foreign parents? Can s/he hold office? (That might be a question for Arkady.)

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That is one interpretation of the law. The law indeed states something like that one cannot use your original nationality. But it is unclear what that means. A judge will have to rule on that.

It does not say you cannot keep your original nationality.

But immigration does have instructions to report people with Thai nationality who use another countries passport to enter.

I realise that in Thailand there is often a gulf between what the law says and what is actually enacted by officials. But I'm not totally convinced that the laws presented in this thread could be used as a defence.

Regarding the judge: arkady mentioned in one post that these sorts of matters are determined by a minister, with no opportunity for legal review.

Arkady, if you're still around, what would happen in a case like this: could a naturalised Thai facing revocation appeal, or is it at the discretion of a minister as you seemed to say in one of your earlier posts?

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Well, naiharn -- I guess that if you don't accept Thai laws then you won't be wanting to become a citizen. Pretty simple.

On the contrary! If I was a person who simply couldn't accept Laws, then Thailand would be a great country to be a citizen of! Just look at the way the 'law' is applied there!

(I mean just look at the preceding 48 pages of discussion about whether Thais can or cannot have dual citizenship - yes, no, maybe, no but we'll ignore it, ... typical!)

5

5

5

Anyone I congratulate you and the others on your new citizenship - and pray that any laws that might jeopardise it never catch up with you!

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Laws everywhere are often open to interpretation by the judiciary, particularly places that follow different legal systems (British v Napoleonic etc)..

Anyway, nothing will ever "catch up to me" because there is nothing in my life that is so controversial or illegal as to attract any attention. I lead a pretty clean and boring existence!

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How about a person with citizenship through being born in Thailand of foreign parents? Can s/he hold office? (That might be a question for Arkady.)

Yes they can, supreme court ruled in the 90's that there couldn't be discrimination to Thai citizens born to foreign parents. This was after attempts to put a higher bar on qualifications needed to become an MP. Mainly directed at the likes of Barnharn etc.

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I have done some more research in the Royal Gazette to investigate revocation of nationality.

...

1. Thais by descent (born to a Thai parent). The wording of the 1952 Nationality Act that was in force prior to the 1965 was unequivocal on this issue," A person of Thai nationality who has been naturalised as an alien shall lose Thai nationality". However, the language was softened in Section 22 of the 1965 so as to become ambiguous, "A person of Thai nationality who has been naturalised as an alien, or who has renounced Thai nationality, or whose Thai nationality has been revoked, shall lose Thai nationality."

Hi Arkady, with respect I don't see why you say the 2nd version is a softened version of the first version, and the second version is now ambiguous.

The first version says "A person 'B' shall lose Thai nationality", and the second version says "A Person 'B' , 'C' or 'D' shall lose Thai nationality"

In both cases 'B' shall lose Thai nationality. You've also said elsewhere that the clause is now ambiguous. I dont' see why it's any more or less ambiguous than the older clause.

Regards

N

I take your point but I think the introduction of the concept of voluntary renunciation of Thai citizenship by those who have naturalized as something else effectively softens it. If we go back to before the 1952, there was a requirement to get permission from the minister beforehand to take another nationality as well as renunciation of Thai nationality and there are quite a few cases of this in the Royal Gazette. (In fact there were a lot of farangs who apparently got Thai nationality quite easily and later renounced it to resume their former nationalities when their stints in Thailand were up and they wanted to go home). Things seem to have been progressively softened for Thais getting another nationality and since the 1965 Act the practice has been voluntary renunciation only, largely for Thai women getting Taiwanese nationality as a result of marrying Taiwanese men and a sprinkling of those getting the nationalities of other hard line countries that don't allow dual nationality, including Germany, Singapore and Korea. (I found a case of an apparently misguided soul who renounced Thai nationality to become American!)

Edited by Arkady

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How about a person with citizenship through being born in Thailand of foreign parents? Can s/he hold office? (That might be a question for Arkady.)

Yes they can, supreme court ruled in the 90's that there couldn't be discrimination to Thai citizens born to foreign parents. This was after attempts to put a higher bar on qualifications needed to become an MP. Mainly directed at the likes of Barnharn etc.

I remember Banharn's case but it was under a different constitution that allowed Thais born in Thailand to foreign fathers to become prime minister only if they had completed Por 6 education. Banharn had completed Por 6 but the education system had been revamped since then and Por 6 at the time he studied was equivalent to only Por 4 by the time he came PM and that was what the opposition's argument revolved around (also of course it was a way to embarrass him for being an uneducated "jek"). At the time it seemed pretty obvious that he was constitutionally unqualified for the job but I think he came with some dubious documents that apparently showed his father had in fact become a naturalised Thai by the time he was born. I can't remember the Supreme Court ruling but I don't doubt it happened as a way to reinforce his claim. In addition, Banharn also later came up with bachelors and masters degrees from Ramkhamhaeng. The masters degree thesis must have been particularly difficult for him because it quoted at length from English and French text, while it was well known that all Banharn could manage in a European language was "Hello Kwin" when he met QE2 as PM and she spent the whole of the official banquet staring into space utterly bored to be stuck with such a boring little man.

Edited by Arkady

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That is one interpretation of the law. The law indeed states something like that one cannot use your original nationality. But it is unclear what that means. A judge will have to rule on that.

It does not say you cannot keep your original nationality.

But immigration does have instructions to report people with Thai nationality who use another countries passport to enter.

Unfortunately, unlike the US, UK and others, there is no judicial process related to Thai nationality, so no judge would be involved. All matters to do with nationality are reviewed by committees constituted under the Nationality Act but ultimate discretion lies with the minister who is under no obligation to reveal his reasons. I have seen a case where some one tried to appeal rejection of an application for naturalization but I think the case just went back to the Interior Minister committee which rejected her again (she later got it through registration with a district office instead, due the revision of rules for people born in Thailand between 1972 and 1992 in the 2008). The only chance of judicial review would be through the Administrative Court. A Swiss man who was rejected for PR by Purachai as minister (along with many others) attempted unsuccessfully to sue Purachai for malfeasance in the Administrative Court and his PR rejection was upheld on the grounds that it was purely up to the discretion of the minister.

As I have mentioned before there are no cases I have been able to find of naturalized Thais losing their Thai nationality for using their former nationality but there are many cases of revocation of nationality of people who got Thai nationality through birth in Thailand to foreign fathers for making use of their father's nationality - in nearly all cases as a result of staying abroad for more than 5 years. That is not to say that the law may not be reinterpretated for naturalised Thais in future.

Edited by Arkady

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The administrate court is still very young, I believe something like 8 years old. Let's hope in the near future their work will be expanded and judicial review possible.

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