11 July 2024

The Cabinet has endorsed a draft bill on the protection and support of indigenous ethnic peoples in Thailand, Culture Minister Sermsak Pongpanich said after the weekly cabinet meeting today.

The bill is has been drafted to accord with the constitution, which clearly supports equal rights for all people. There are about 10 million indigenous ethnic people in Thailand, the minister said.

Studies conducted before drafting the bill show that there are several problems facing ethnic minorities in Thailand, including the lack of Thai nationality, which deprives them of the same rights as other Thais. The bill has been drafted to ensure that they receive the same protection as other Thais, he said.

Under the bill, which will be submitted to Parliament for approval, ethnic peoples would be allowed to live and work in Thailand, on the condition that they do not cut trees down and take care of the forests they inhabit.

If the bill passes into law, indiginous ethnic minorities would be registered, so that authorities know their habitats. They may also be included in official national registration.

Sermsak hoped that MPs from all parties are likely to support the bill.