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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.

Sorry Naiharn but naturalised Thais do effectively have a lower and more tenuous status than those born Thai. Under the 2007 (and 1997) constitution they cannot be MPs, ministers, PM, senators, members of the electoral commission and I think there are some other judicial positions specifically prohibited. However, there is no longer any discrimination on those born in Thailand to foreign fathers on grounds of education (the 1997 constitution anyway introduced a bachelors degree requirement for most, if not all, of these positions, regardless of father's nationality at the time of birth). As Richard pointed out, naturalised Thais also have to wait for 5 years for the right (and the legal obligation) to vote. I am not sure about the other govt positions you mention like provincial governor, kamnan or pooyai baan. I don't think they are covered in the constitution but I suspect that the governing laws for these appointments also bar naturalised Thais. If it's any consolation, most of this type of discrimination was originally aimed at Chinese not farangs or others, although many Thai Chinese seem more than happy to embrace the same racial discriminations that made their forefathers' lives a misery.

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I heard that the multi-gazillionaire guy who owns California Wow fitness centers applied but was rejected. So money doesn't always talk, I guess.

But he has a large spread on Samui, doesn't he? LOL. However, it's unusual to be rejected outright by the minister. More normally people are either politely declined by Special Branch, if they lack the minimum qualifications set out in the regulations, or just disappear into a black hole at the ministry and never hear anything again.

At the other end of the spectrum I know of a university lecturer on a measly Thai academic salary who applied successfully. What constitutes the perfect candidate in their eyes (other than those with very high level connections), if there is such a thing, will probably remain forever a mystery.

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I heard that the multi-gazillionaire guy who owns California Wow fitness centers applied but was rejected. So money doesn't always talk, I guess.

But he has a large spread on Samui, doesn't he? LOL. However, it's unusual to be rejected outright by the minister. More normally people are either politely declined by Special Branch, if they lack the minimum qualifications set out in the regulations, or just disappear into a black hole at the ministry and never hear anything again.

At the other end of the spectrum I know of a university lecturer on a measly Thai academic salary who applied successfully. What constitutes the perfect candidate in their eyes (other than those with very high level connections), if there is such a thing, will probably remain forever a mystery.

His large spread is on Phuket, I think -- unless he has more than one.

The story I heard was that he was rejected at the Ministry level (by the committee) because his grasp of Thai was nearly non-existent.

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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?!:)

might be a question for Arkady.)

I see one more question I haven't yet answered. There have been quite a few cases of revocation of Thai nationality due to commission of an act contrary to public order or good morals. I can't remember offhand if any were naturalised Thais but I think this has happened. Certainly there have been cases involving those born in Thailand to foreign fathers and women who adopted their husbands' Thai nationality. Political deviance is more likely to be covered by the clause that allows revocation for committing acts deemed "prejudicial to the security or conflicting with the interests of the State, or amounting to an insult to the nation" and this happened on a number of occasions in the past. However, I think almost all cases on grounds of national security took place during the Cold War and involved ethnic Chinese who were Thai as a result of birth in Thailand to foreign fathers and were probably suspected communists. It is conceivable that a naturalised Thai would lose his Thai nationality as a result of being involved in a "shirts" demonstration but I would think it unlikely, unless he was also convicted of a crime in relation to the rally. Where nationality has been revoked on the ground of public order or morals, sometimes the nature of the offence has been described and it has usually been a conviction for a serious offence like narcotics trafficking, not necessarily in a Thai court.

So I think that revocation for bad behaviour or political deviancy is only likely to be considered in dire circumstances and probably only as a result of a criminal conviction.

And finally, no. Those who are Thai through birth to a Thai parent cannot lose their Thai nationality through bad behaviour. That may seem unfair but Thailand is not alone in allowing revocation of citizenship gained through naturalisation but not through birth. I think the underlying thinking is that getting Thai nationality is a privilege that should not be abused and that those who get it otherwise than through birth to a Thai parent usually have access to another nationality (stateless people excepted), while most of those born to Thai parents don't.

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I heard that the multi-gazillionaire guy who owns California Wow fitness centers applied but was rejected. So money doesn't always talk, I guess.

But he has a large spread on Samui, doesn't he? LOL. However, it's unusual to be rejected outright by the minister. More normally people are either politely declined by Special Branch, if they lack the minimum qualifications set out in the regulations, or just disappear into a black hole at the ministry and never hear anything again.

At the other end of the spectrum I know of a university lecturer on a measly Thai academic salary who applied successfully. What constitutes the perfect candidate in their eyes (other than those with very high level connections), if there is such a thing, will probably remain forever a mystery.

His large spread is on Phuket, I think -- unless he has more than one.

The story I heard was that he was rejected at the Ministry level (by the committee) because his grasp of Thai was nearly non-existent.

It must be possible for applicants to be rejected by the committee and there is a trajectory on the flow chart for this to happen. Lack of reasonable facility in spoken Thai would seem a good reason for rejection and the committee will probably see more candidates like that, now that those with Thai wives don't have to pass the Thai language tests at Special Branch. I have known a couple of people who were stumped by the Thai language interview for PR after many years of residence in Thailand. One asked permission to answer the questions in English and the other had no idea even what questions were being asked.

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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)..

Yes, but in Thailand the 'interpretive' element is, shall we say, highly enhanced.

And the interpretation is carried out not just by the judiciary, but by the police, by politicians, by powerful background interests. It is a wholly different system to places like Britain, Australia etc. Surely you're not going to deny that.

There has been a long discussion in this thread about whether Thais can hold dual nationality. With some weighty arguments that the law does allow Thais to hold dual citizenship.

Here is what the PM himself said a few days ago:

BANGKOK: -- Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Friday that former prime Thaksin Shinawatra will have to forego his Thai citizenship if he wants to become a Cambodian citizen.

Abhsiit was commenting on reports that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen would give Cambodian citizenship to Thaksin.

Abhsit said he has not been formally informed of Thaksin being naturalized Cambodian.

"But by the standard of Thai laws, a Thai citizen must hold a single citizenship. If he wants to become a Cambodian citizen, he must forego the Thai citizenship," Abhisit said.

Not 'may' but 'must'. Given that Abhisit probably knows dozens of Thais, including close family members, who openly hold dual citizenships I would say he is being very interpretive. :)

Let us contrast this with a similar case that occurred in Australia a few years back.

A politician was elected to the federal Parliament, and her opponents found that she had originally had New Zealand citizenship, but had not renounced it, and hence held a foreign nationality, making her ineligible to enter Parliament.

So what happened?

She was expelled from Parliament. A by-election was called. She renounced her New Zealand citizenship. Won the by-election, and then took her place in Parliament. Problem solved. Law upheld.

(see "Lindsay by-election 1996" in wikipedia)

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I can't even imagine what one would have to do to come to such negative attention of the authorities that one would have one's nationality revoked. And, as stated above, there does not seem to be any precedent for it when it comes to naturalized citizens like me.

At the very least, my position here is about a thousand times more secure as a citizen then it was as a PR, which was about a thousand times more secure then when I was on yearly visas/work permits, which was about a thousand times more secure than when I was first here as a tourist.

There is no way for a foreigner to be any more secure in Thailand, and I'm definitely not losing any sleep over theoretical arguments that are simply never going to happen.

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Suspect not everyone feels that insecure on a visa extension of stay.

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PR is pretty dam_n good and gives you a warm fuzzy feeling when you hear people talking about the hassles of renewing their annual extensions or being considered non-people when trying to do simple things like open a bank account or buy a car without a work permit. Citizenship would be even better and the chances of losing it are much less than, say, the chances of the bar for retirement visas being cranked up substantially in the future.

BTW Naiharn, Abhisit's comments about Thaksin's citizenship were not made a few days ago but were made at the time Thaksin became an advisor to the Cambodian government. Unfortunately, Abhisit's comments about both Thai and UK citizenship seem to be surprisingly uninformed. His interpretation of the 1965 Nationality Act on this point is utterly at variance with way it has been enforced since promulgation and with his Ministry of Foreign Affairs' interpretation. The MFA's website openly encourages dual nationality for Thais living abroad and instructs them on how to juggle their passports while travelling, while embassies abroad happily issue new Thai passports in the full knowledge the applicants have other citizenships. On the other hand Abhisit, himself, is clearly a UK citizen under British law, whether he has ever made use of that citizenship or not. Those born in the UK to foreign parents who were not accredited diplomats or enemy aliens before 1983 are automatically British without the need to register. All he needs to do is send his birth certificate to the UK passport office in Hong Kong with the completed form, photographs and application fee and a spanking new British passport will be couriered back to him 2 or 3 weeks later without further ado. The fees he paid at Oxford are utterly irrelevant, as is the question of whether he has travelled to the UK on a Thai passport. It is possible that the current finance minister is also British but I am not sure what his father was doing in the UK at the time of his birth there. If he was working at the Thai Embassy, then Korn wouldn't qualify for UK citizenship.

I remember the case of a French guy who was born in the US but went back to France aged two. In his 40s he was posted to New York as an expat by his French company and went on his French passport and got a work permit, having never had a US passport and, I think, genuinely not understanding that he was still entitled to one. When he registered with the IRS all hell broke loose because they saw he was American due to birth in US and charged him with tax evasion for never having filed a tax return before. He then spent next couple of years fighting a legal case against the IRS. Some compromise was eventually worked out as the court accepted he had genuinely not realised he was American and obliged to file tax returns on his wold wide income. Nevertheless, American he was. Thaksin cleverly had his son to avoid problems with the IRS by getting him to renounce his US nationality about the time he transferred large chunks of assets to him.

Interestingly, there is no reference in the Thai Nationality Act to Thais born to Thai parents who hold or are entitled to hold another nationality as a result of birth in a foreign country - not even a mechanism for them to (perish the thought) voluntarily renounce their Thai nationality in order to continue to hold the foreign nationality, as in the case of look krung. Given the large Thai community in the US which still grants US nationality to anyone born on their soil, even if the parents are illegal immigrants, there must be a large number of Thai dual national in this category (including some who may be naively unaware of their status).

Edited by Arkady

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So Arkady, do you know whether there is a law banning a Thai who also holds foreign citizenship from holding office in Thailand? (Many people assume there must be, but I like to see actual laws, not just hear opinions!)

According to another article in TV Abhisit has just admitted in Parliament that he does hold British nationality:

Thailand's prime minister said Thursday (24th Feb) that he may also be British, acknowledging claims by opponents trying to use the issue to bring him before the International Criminal Court.

But the British-born Abhisit Vejjajiva said he considered himself Thai and had not sought to benefit from dual citizenship.

"Now if I travel to England I need to ask for a visa. It is clear that I intend to hold Thai citizenship. Whether that means I hold dual citizenship or not, that's a legal issue," he said in response to questioning in parliament.

He has as good as admitted he hasn't renounced it.

What is the legal situation on this?

Maybe there is no law specifically precluding it because it is assumed that no Thai should hold dual citizenship in the first place?

Over to you Arkady!

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Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's dual nationality is not an issue barring him from contesting the elections or holding office under the Thai laws, Election Commission Sodsri Sattayatham said on Friday.

"Under Articles 101 and 102*1) of the Constitution there is no ban for dual nationality," she said.

Sodsri said under relevant laws, Abhisit was entitled to run for office and secure political appointments, including the position of prime minister. Thai laws take precedents on affairs involving Thai citizens, she said.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/PMs-nationality-not-a-problem-Sodsri-30149522.html

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PR is pretty dam_n good and gives you a warm fuzzy feeling when you hear people talking about the hassles of renewing their annual extensions or being considered non-people when trying to do simple things like open a bank account or buy a car without a work permit. Citizenship would be even better and the chances of losing it are much less than, say, the chances of the bar for retirement visas being cranked up substantially in the future.

PR does sound good in that respect

Did I read somewhere that a man married to a Thai now no longer needs to obtain PR to apply for citizenship?

Thanks

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Which is good as precious few have obtained PR in the last four years. In my view that is a much better objective than PR for those without dual nationality issues (although they are trying to make it an issue for Thai now so the future is not clear).

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Which is good as precious few have obtained PR in the last four years. In my view that is a much better objective than PR for those without dual nationality issues (although they are trying to make it an issue for Thai now so the future is not clear).

Thanks lopburi3, I did not know that it was so hard to obtain PR

What did you mean (regarding citizenship/dual nationality I believe?) by (although they are trying to make it an issue for Thai now so the future is not clear)

Thanks

Edited by flying

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