Late last week during a debate in Parliament, Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva publically admitted his dual citizenship for the first time. The 46 year-old Thai/British citizen has been prime minister since December of 2008 (the youngest prime minister in nearly 60 years) after a political career that began with his election to Parliament at the youthful age of 27. Until last week Abhisit had successfully concealed his British citizenship.
According to the UK Daily Mail:
Mr. Abhisit, 46, automatically holds British citizenship because he was born in Newcastle, to parents from a well-off Bangkok family.
He would have to specifically renounce it to lose British citizenship.
But his political opponents have jumped on the admission and claimed 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.
Under British law citizenship is granted to all persons born in the UK, Commonwealth or British colonies and is also conveyed to children born to British fathers in other countries. Unless specifically renounced British citizenship cannot be surrendered. Many countries including the United States consider a person holding dual citizenship to be ineligible to serve as commander in chief.
Once a rising star in Thailand’s Democrat Party, Abhisit’s popularity has waned since becoming prime minister. Many Thais now openly ridicule Abhisit and refer to him by his English name, Mark. The foreign educated prime minister is seen as an elitist who is out of step with the average citizen and since the bloody clashes between protesters and the army last May his regime has been viewed as dangerous and oppressive by a growing number of Thai citizens.
During his meteoric rise to power the vibrant young leader was able to avoid any proper vetting regarding his background, a matter for regret among the people today.