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Tears flow, charges fly over schoolgirl denied her home

Jul 12. 2017
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By Thanapat Kijjakosol
The Nation

Participants in a closed-door meeting over housing for a stateless girl in Sa Kaew suspect that local administrative officials were merely looking for excuses in the fiasco that resulted.

Wattana Nakhon district chief Natthapong Pattanarat on Tuesday called the meeting of all parties involved in the dispute over registering the girl’s donated house.

The 11-year-old student’s schoolteacher had earlier posted on social media and had scolded the local administration for not helping the girl and, allegedly as a result, was threatened with a transfer out of the district. The girl was later granted Thai nationality.

Critics who attended Tuesday’s meeting complained that the teacher and other supporters of the girl had had no chance to prepare for the debate that ensued with local officials. They said the teacher ended up weeping in frustration.

Army troops built a one-bedroom house for the girl and her 84-year-old adoptive father. It was completed on June 25, but the two couldn’t move in because they were denied house registration and have had to remain in the derelict shack where they’ve been living.

Critics allege that the authorities were bullies and had also refused to hook the new house into the power supply. 

The schoolgirl had earlier told reporters in tears that she’d heard her teacher might be transferred as punishment for helping her. 

“Take the house back,” she said. “I don’t want to lose my teacher.” 

Sa Kaew Governor Klanarong Pongcharoen directed Natthapong to resolve the matter, leading to Tuesday’s closed meeting.

Natthapong afterwards said it was all a misunderstanding and expressed confidence that the teacher would not be transferred. 

Tambon Tha Kwen assistant village headwoman Jiranan Phromsuwan said Natthapong wanted only to have all sides reconciled. Although the teacher would not admit being at fault, insisting she’d done no wrong, everyone agreed to set aside their differences. 

Jiranan said local administrators had behaved appropriately in the meeting and had promised to take no action against the teacher. 

She said the administrators claimed they were not involved in an inquiry launched at a Basic Education area office regarding the teacher’s online tirade and insisted that matter is entirely up to education officials.

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