Stateless boy gets OK to travel to Japan for contest

BANGKOK (Kyodo) The Thai Interior Ministry has decided to issue a travel document to a stateless 12-year-old boy living in the town of Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, to allow him to represent the country in an origami airplane competition in Chiba Prefecture.

Wongsak Sawasdipanich, director general of the ministry’s Provincial Administration Department, said the decision Thursday to allow Mong Thongdee to leave the country was based on law and human rights.

The ministry had earlier declined to issue the travel document, saying it lacked a legal basis to do so.

Mong told reporters after meeting with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva that he thanked officials and the prime minister for giving him the chance to represent Thailand in the 4th All Japan Origami Airplane Competition, scheduled to be held Sept. 19-20 in Chiba.

He vowed to do his best as Thailand’s representative in the competition.

Abhisit, meanwhile, said he would raise the issue of stateless children with Thailand’s National Security Council to resolve problems involving such children, particularly in terms of education and health care.

Mong’s parents originally came from Shan State in Myanmar to work as construction workers, and he was born in northern Thailand near the border.