Thai PM admits he is a British citizen
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Thai PM admits he is a British citizen

BP readers will not be surprised given the previous posts on this issue – see here and here – that it was clear that Abhisit was born a British citizen, but there was just a question whether he has renounced it. Today, in parliament he admits he has not renounced it. AP has the story:

Thailand’s prime minister has an confession to make: He is also British.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva publicly acknowledged his dual nationality Thursday for the first time during a debate in Parliament.

Abhisit, 46, automatically holds British citizenship because he was born in Newcastle, to parents from a well-to-do Bangkok family. He would have to specifically renounce it to lose it.

Abhisit’s political foes have highlighted the matter. They claim that as a British citizen, he can be sued in international court over alleged abuses during his administration’s crackdown on anti-government protests last year.

The Nation, of course, gets the story completely wrong. Their story has the headline “PM denies dual nationality”.

At around 13:18 – you can find video of what Abhisit said by going to this site,* choose NBT and then make sure that it is for February 24, then move the video counter to just after 13:17. Below is a summarized version of what Abhisit said – all words in quotes are actual translated quotes:

“I’ve never hidden anything. I was born in England. I was born in Newcastle. I didn’t hide my support of the [Newcastle] football team either. I was born in England. My parents are Thai…[then asks the questioner, did you report your own birth?] … I was born in a hospital in England”. The hospitals then do what they do and report the birth. You are not curious whether I hold Thai citizenship, but “you’re curious if I hold British citizenship, I’ll answer you directly that”. “You ask have I ever formally renounced my British citizenship, I admit I have not renounced my British citizenship because it is understood legally that if the nationality laws are conflicting, the Thai law must be used”. When I studied in England, I didn’t take advantage of being a British citizen and I declared myself a foreign student and my parents paid the tuition costs. These days, every time I travel to England, I have to apply for a visa. The intention is clear that I intend to hold Thai nationality.

But if you ask me if this is regarded as a dual citizenship issue, that’s a legal matter. If you want me to renounce it, I can, but all of what you’ve done today about my British citizenship, it’s not that you’re concerned about Thailand’s interest. You only want one thing: how Robert Amsterdam can drag the issue to the international court. That’s it. It’s not my side that has a problem in protecting Thailand’s interest.”

“My intention is clear. I was born in England but I consider myself  a Thai. I studied in England but I intended to return to work and live  in Thailand, to work for the country’s interest and didn’t think of anything else.” I have also asked the EC about dual citizenship and they say there is no problem, I just have to be a Thai citizen.

BP: Abhisit then launches into an attack on other people who hold citizenship of another country and use their citizenship contrary – he is clearly referring to Thaksin here.

On the part about conflicting laws, this appears to be Abhisit mumbo-jumbo. He doesn’t state what law he is referring to so it is hard to refute. He almost appears to be implying there is some Thai law that forbids dual citizenship – and hence under Thai law his British citizenship is revoked automatically in the eyes of Thai law, but then he implicitly contradicts himself when stating he checked with the EC about dual citizenship. How could he check on something that doesn’t exist? How he can renounce it if he is not a British citizen? On Abhisit not using his British citizenship and paying the local fee when he was studying at university, he couldn’t have done this anyway given he would have been deemed to be not ordinarily resident in the UK – local fee is based on residency not citizenship – so again he cites the law incorrectly.

Again, BP wants to reiterate this is not an issue of whether Abhisit is eligible to be an MP or the PM as according to the  Section 101 of the Constitution it just states he has to be a Thai citizen by birth. Abhisit is a Thai citizen by birth, as according to Section 7(1) of the Nationality Act a person becomes a Thai citizenship birth if they were “born of a father or a mother of Thai nationality, whether within or outside the Thai Kingdom”. Abhisit’s parents are Thai nationals, so he is a Thai citizen by birth and is eligible. BP can see no law or has not seen cited any law that would make Abhisit ineligible or means he lacks of the necessary qualifications to be an MP or PM.

*Site doesn’t appear to work if you are using a Mac, or Firefox on Windows. If you use Chrome and then download the Windows Media plug-in provided, it works (assume Internet Explorer also works, but didn’t check).

h/t to a reader