Miss Ladawan Khaikham1
1Kasetssart University, , Thailand
Tham Luang Cave Rescue became a global phenomenon because its mission caught attentions domestically and internationally. After the rescue of 13 members of Wild Boar Academy (Moo Pa) football team was successful, the world was surprised to the fact that three football players and their coach were still lacking of Thai citizenship. This was not the first time that talented young people were left stateless in Thailand. The country was ranked third with the highest number of stateless person. Whilst the International Observatory on Statelessness (IOS) estimated that there 2-3.5 million stateless people in Thailand, only 486,440 people were registered as stateless with the government of Thailand. Being categorised as stateless people, they were eligible for some levels of basic education and healthcare, but they were restricted to travel and they could not register their married or buy property in Thailand. This paper, firstly, aims to lays out the global phenomenon of Tham Luang Cave rescue in 2018. Secondly, it compares Thai netizens’ opinions on the stateless cases between Wild Boar Academy (Moo Pa) football players and Mong Thongdee, a stateless boy who won a national paper plane contest in 2009, in gaining Thai citizenship. Thirdly, it discusses three political implications underpinned the NCPO government’s action of granting Thai citizenship to the cave survivors generously and promptly. Finally, this paper discusses that the future of Wild Boar Academy players was used as one of political tools for the future of Prayuth’s regime to remain its legitimacy and gain political power for Thailand national election in 2019.
Ladawan Khaikham is a lecturer in Politics at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand. She received his BA (Hons) (Political Science), Faculty of Political Science, Department of Politics and Government, Thammasat University in 2010 and MSc in Political Theory, Department of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in 2011. She completed her PhD at The Australian National University (ANU) with the Thai Government Scholarship program for the Humanities and the Social Science of Thailand (2010-2017).