Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Schoolgirl prepares for 'Genius' contest in US after getting Thai ID card

May 10. 2019
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By Kriangkrai Rattana
The Nation

6,580 Viewed

A 17-year-old schoolgirl received her first national ID card on Friday, ending her life as a stateless person and paving the way for her to represent Thailand in the US.

Yonladee Phiyatat’s request for Thai citizenship was quickly approved earlier this week, after she risked missing the Genius Olympiad in the United States. Her plight got the attention of the media and relevant authorities as well as public sympathy. 

Nicknamed Ploy, the Ranong student has won a national-level competition to take part in an international academic contest in New York next month. 

However, she found that her status as a stateless person meant she could not make the trip. 

Yonladee, who was born and grew up in Thailand, did not automatically qualify for Thai citizenship because her parents were foreign migrants. 

She had to submit a request to the Interior Ministry’s Provincial Administration Department, which fast-tracked her case this week. 

Yonladee went to the Muang Ranong District Office on Friday with her parents and teacher, where she applied for and received her Thai ID card. 

With the card she can now get a passport and apply for a US visa.

Ranong Governor Chatupoj Piyumputra and Muang Ranong district chief Boonchai Somjai showed up at the office to facilitate Yonladee’s case. 

“She is qualified, in accordance with laws, to receive Thai citizenship. She is going to bolster Thailand’s reputation at an international level,” he said. 

Mong Thongdee, who was in the same situation after he won a paper-plane competition a decade ago, said on Friday that Yonladee contacted him recently to discuss her case. 

“I recommended the Bangkok Legal Clinic (operated by lecturers at Thammasat University) because lecturers there helped me out of statelessness before,” Mong said. “Now I am happy that she has got Thai citizenship too.”

Mong became a Thai citizen last October.

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