By The Nation
A neighbour posted that the 68-year-old, who lives in a one-room bungalow on a rubber plantation in Ban Wang Plai village in Tambon Yan Yao, had been denied all welfare for the poor because he had no ID card since birth.
The post drew the attention of the Surat Thani governor who instructed Khiri Rat Nikhom district chief Charnwit Siraphakdee to help the man until the Provincial Administration Department agreed to grant an ID card. The man is known among villagers as Uncle Hiak.
Charnwit said Hiak was among 40 stateless people identified in Khiri Rat Nikhom by a survey in 2015. The Provincial Administration Department agreed to carry out the process of granting them Thai citizenship in a project to honour His Majesty the late King Rama IX.
As part of the project, the officials checked DNA of the stateless residents to compare with their relatives but the case of Hiak could not proceed because his parents died when he was six and he has no other close relatives for DNA reference.
The district chief ordered the head of Moo 10 village in Tambon Yanyao to organise a meeting of residents, who were at least 70 years old.
The meeting endorsed Thai citizenship for Hiak, affirming that he grew up in the village.
As a result, the district chief resolved to give him a Thai name, Suchart Samphao, as well as granting him an official address.
Learning of the decision, Suchart purportedly shed tears of joy.
He said he has been living alone in a 3x5 metre room on the rubber plantation of his distant relative. Without an ID card, Suchart has been denied all services, and his house does not have power.
He makes a living by collecting vegetables to sell for Bt100 or Bt200 a day. With an ID card, he would be eligible for monthly allowances for the poor and elderly.
The district chief said an ID card should be issued by June 18.