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'mia farang': when harry weds somsri
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  1. #1
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    'MIA FARANG': When Harry weds Somsri, business blooms

    The Nation, Published on Jun 14, 2004

    Thai women who marry Westerners are now being looked up to, instead of down at

    KHON KAEN - To the many thousands of Isaan women who leave their villages and end up marrying a foreigner, being a mia farang has it burdens. Some have to tolerate insults, all have to bear a certain stigma.

    But the reality behind marrying outside their culture is the economic and social advantages it brings to the country, and this is finally being recognised by provincial authorities in a surprising and practical way.

    Some governors in the Northeast are planning to honour the Isaan mia farang by asking them to act as "commercial and tourism ambassadors" for the region, with their mission being to help sell more than 3,000 "One Tambon, One Product" (Otop) items.

    They will also be asked to persuade their husbands' friends and families to visit Thailand to help boost tourist arrivals, the governors say.

    The phenomenon of the mia farang has been well noted for decades among the households of the region, but it has been very much a taboo subject at community level and above. But that is all changing as the economic reality of marrying a foreigner sets in.

    To Thais, especially in rural areas, a commonly held prejudice of a Thai woman walking with a Westerner is that the woman must be in the sex industry and the man her customer. It might be grossly unfair, but that is the perceived wisdom.

    But now the first mia farang club has been founded in Roi Et and similar ones are in the pipeline in most provinces of the Northeast.

    The clubs will be initiated by the provincial governors and officially recognised, Roi Et Governor Nopporn Jantarathong told The Nation.

    "We have invited [the mia farang] to be official guests for our bunpavet - an annual Isaan Buddhist ceremony - and to wear Thai silk dress, like at other provincial ceremonies," Nopporn said, giving just one example of how the province recognises the contribution of the foreign husbands to the mia farang's family.

    "It is a historical and drastic change," he said. "These women have been looked at in a negative light for too long, but it is a fact that they exist and they are not a problem.

    "To the contrary, they bring in foreign currency and have boosted the province's economy for decades. Why shouldn't they be recognised positively," the CEO governor said in explaining his decision to set up the Roi Et club, known officially as Mae Ban Ruam Jai Club (housewives come together).

    Khon Kaen Governor Jade Thanawat said his province will set up a club similar to the one in Roi Et by next April when most of the wives bring their Western husbands to their home towns.

    "We are trying to work out the best form of cooperation between the province and the mia farang. The club is one very interesting form," Jade said.

    However, he accepted that giving official recognition to mia farang might be too sensitive an issue for many people and could lead to opposition from more conservative elements of society.

    "Therefore we have to spend some time studying it carefully before announcing the policy," he added.

    In Roi Et, there has been no such hesitation. Governor Nopporn said he is planning to give even more recognition to the province's mia farang by holding an official "wedding ceremony" for them in the province.

    "It is to send a message that they are now honoured by the governor. Looking at what they have done for the country, they deserve this honour," he said.

    Roi Et resident Athika Sarawithee, chairman of Roi Et's mia farang club, said she is very happy with the policy.

    "The recognition is very important to us. We have been looked at negatively for too long," she said. Athika is currently running for the Tambon Administrative Organisation (TAO) in her home town.

    Nopporn said the new policy had been running since February and he was now evaluating the number of extra visitors and the amount of Otop products sold.

    "I have seen some women bringing as many as four groups of visitors with them this year," he said.

    Anthika said communication among the club's members was still poor as many of the members live abroad.

    "So selling Otop products and bringing in more tourist is still being learnt at the individual level, mostly. The idea of this policy is great but personally I think Otop products need many improvements before being sold abroad, especially designs," she said.

    Decha Vanichvarod, director of the regional office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, said the phenomenon of mia farang had long been noted by local people and the authorities but no scientific studies had been made before the NESDB's, which he conducted because of a personal interest. The study will be published this year but the results are already being used to shape regional policy.

    The issue is attracting more and more interest from local academics and non-government organisations. Some of them are planning to conduct a series of studies on the impact of mia farang, especially the cultural and social aspects.

    Kamol Sukin, Sumalee Phopayak

    The Nation

    ------------

    Vast potential to be exploited

    A recent survey by the National Economic and Social Development Board's (NESDB) northeastern office found that more than 15,000 women from the region had married foreigners (two of the 15 provinces have yet to be surveyed).

    "They met their husbands while working to survive economically in Bangkok and in tourism towns like Phuket, Pattaya, Samui, Hua Hin and Udon Thani," the survey said.

    "Annually, these women bring at least Bt40 billion in foreign currency into the country - about 6 per cent of the region's total GDP - through their present lifestyle, and they also visit Thailand at least once a year. It would be a lot more if we could make them visit more frequently or convince their husbands' relatives and friends to visit their homes too," Decha Vanichvarod, director of the NESDB's regional office said.

  2. #2
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    Yes, I read that article a few hours ago. I am very proud of the government finally realizing or at least admitting how much in revenues these fine ladies bring back to their country after leaving it. My wife and I have only been married 3 years and we have already sent over $4,000 in US funds back to her family. Not to mention the 3 trips we have taken to Thailand. Yet everytime we go I can see in the eyes of the passer by, and I know what they are thinking. If the kon kao know it, we can be certain the ladies feel it ten-fold.

    Very impressive move, surely will increase the tourist cash coming through!
    Since light travels faster than sound, people appear bright until you hear them speak....and in every forum you will find at least one.

    When you critisize someone, walk a mile in his shoes first; then, if he gets mad, he'll be a mile away and barefoot.

  3. #3
    Ferret Guest
    Finally recognitian, now if Toxin would be realistic with the new immigration laws.

  4. #4
    Ajink Guest
    I think there should some new laws to farangs to come to Thailand ......there should some restriction on them too..this is my opinion???

  5. #5
    Ferret Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (Ajink @ June 14 2004,19:59)]I think there should some new laws to farangs to come to Thailand ......there should some restriction on them too..this is my opinion???
    Do you understand how restrictive they are now and what changes are coming in july Ajink?

  6. #6
    delawang Guest
    For me, I donít want the additional recognition.

    The ratio of Thai men who donít resent me for marrying a Thai woman to those who do resent me seems about 25 to 1. It is very rare for me to run into someone who says ďForeigners should stay with foreignersĒ but it does happen. I am concerned that this special treatment will increase the very small amount of anti-foreign husband sentiment that exists in Thailand today.

    My son (blond haired, blue-eyed White guy) is involved with a Black woman in America. He runs into a lot of resentment from Black men, he figures about 1 out of 3. I consider it a real blessing that it is so easy to make friends with Thai men, and I do not want anything that is going to risk changing that.

  7. #7
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    Not to be discouraging Delawang, but they are ALL OVER this forum. It would even surprise me to find out there are more in Thailand hehe. My wife, is not a bit uncomfortable in BKK or Pattaya I mean even there she is called a farang, but it is a whole different story outside the tourist areas. I too think this special treatment if it is to the degree they claim, will heighten the awareness and continue the problem for a couple more generations. In regards to your son, my ex-wife was black and where I live seemed 1:1 !!! It was pretty rough, I know what he is going through.

    There is new news on The Nation in regards to this village. The latest terrorist move, kidnapping the American, he was the husband of a Thai woman from Khon Kaen. Read that article, it shows even more how much he has helped this beautiful country we have all grown to love.

    The Nation's news will change before this post is read by all so I pasted the news copy on My Website.
    Since light travels faster than sound, people appear bright until you hear them speak....and in every forum you will find at least one.

    When you critisize someone, walk a mile in his shoes first; then, if he gets mad, he'll be a mile away and barefoot.

  8. #8
    delawang Guest
    Cool site! See u there

  9. #9
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    awwwww how nice Thank you sad story huh ?
    It wasn't so sad to me at first I just thought ohh another terrorist move on an American, then I thought if it were me and how my wife would react. Kinda crushing after that, happy she is home near alot of friends and family though, she needs them now more than ever before.
    Since light travels faster than sound, people appear bright until you hear them speak....and in every forum you will find at least one.

    When you critisize someone, walk a mile in his shoes first; then, if he gets mad, he'll be a mile away and barefoot.

  10. #10
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    MIA FARANG CLUB: 'It's not just about the money'

    The Nation, Published on Jun 15, 2004

    It's not just the lure of financial security but the "bad habits" of Thai men, say those Thai women who have chosen Western men over their male compatriots for husbands.

    And this seems to be backed up by a recent survey. According to the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), the bad habits of Thai men are one of three main reasons why large numbers of women from the country's Northeast have married Western men, leading to the "mia farang" phenomenon in the region.

    The other two reasons are: poverty and family debts - especially after divorcing a Thai husband who leaves them to take care of the children - and women who want to emulate the success of neighbours who have married a foreigner.

    "Thai men have a tendency to ignore their responsibilities to their family. They easily become 'jao choo' [adulterous] as well as alcoholic if they have money," said Suphee Traiphoo, 42, from Udon Thani. Suphee married German Peter Volk, 59, 18 years ago.

    "I'm not saying all Thai men are like this but many of them are. Let's just say that without an order from God, I would not marry a Thai man," she added.

    "They [Western men] are romantic and good at taking care of their wives, especially financially. And they share the housework, unlike the majority of Thai men," said Suphee's neighbour Noolam Jaithiang, 45. Noolam is married to 60-year-old Austrian lawyer Kowarch Andreas.

    Both Noolam and Suphee divorced their Thai husbands before remarrying with Westerners.

    "I had four kids with a Thai husband before marrying my first Austrian husband with whom I have a 12-year-old daughter. We are no longer together but I am now living with another Austrian man. We are not yet married as my first Austrian husband wants to secure my financial situation if he dies. My current Austrian boyfriend has no problems with the situation," Noolam said.

    "We share similarities in that we both have grown-up children and need someone to be with and help each other. He came at the right time to my life," said Noolam.

    After divorcing her Thai husband, Suphee went to work as a cleaner in Bangkok in order to earn money to raise her nine-month-old child. It was in Bangkok that she met her German husband through a friend who also had a German husband.

    "After a long period of contact, I told him I had 11 family members to take care of and took him to my home. He said okay and told me he was not a rich man, just an ordinary working man," Suphee said.

    The pair married and she went to work as a cleaner in German for 15 years until she got her pension three years ago. She then went back to live in her hometown in Udon Thani's Ban Non Ngarm with her husband Peter, who is also retired.

    "It was not love at first but his good side did make me see him differently later. He cares about my family and always asked whether I sent money to my family on salary day. He helps me with the housework and loves my Thai son," said Suphee.

    Eighty per cent of the 15,284 mia farang interviewed in the survey were married to Thai men before marrying their foreign husbands, the board's regional office director, Decha Vanichvarod, said.

    "We found that the mia farang group is not the beautiful group who are attracted to work in the sex industry. They are just typical Isaan [Northeast] women with very little education. But they are healthy, patient and good at looking after the household. These qualities seem to attract Western, mostly elderly, men" said Decha.

    "She is sincere, straightforward and diligent. I love her even though she grumbles too much sometimes and orders me around to do this and that," said Suphee's husband Peter.

    "I trust my sense when seeing her eyes. She is courageous and self-confident, unlike my former wife," said Andreas about his wife Noolam.

    Grandma Lamai (not her real name) from Roi Et's Ban Jaan said she was impressed with the way her Swiss son-in-law of eight years treats her daughter and grandchildren.

    It is far from normal Thai men's standards, she said.

    "When my daughter married him, he learned the ways of Buddhism in order to understand us even though it was not his religion. I could feel his sense of care and respect," Lamai said while showing photographs of her two grandchildren. Lamai has visited her grandchildren in Switzerland twice.

    Prasit Boonchoob, the headman of Ban Jaan, where 80 out of the 587 families in the community feature a Western husband, said even though he was conservative he agreed that Western men took good care of their wives.

    "If I was still single now, I don't think I could get a wife from this village," he said.

    "Even though it is not a new thing I am a bit surprised to know that most women we interviewed mentioned the same things about Thai men's behaviour today as they had in the past. They hate Thai men's bad habits, especially the drinking, gambling and womanising, which they describe as being irresponsible to the family," said Decha.

    Kamol Sukin, Sumalee Phopayak

    The Nation

    UDON THANI, ROI ET

    ------------

    The Mia Farang of Isaan

    "They are mostly typical Isaan women, rather dark skin, quite strong and healthy and not the type to attract typical Thai men," said researcher Decha Vanichvarod when asked to characterise mia farang, the Thai wives of foreign men.

    Decha is director of the National Economic and Social Development Board's Northeastern Region.

    "They are not 'beautiful' according to Thai men, or among the good-looking women who normally head for jobs in the sex industry in Bangkok, Phuket or Pattaya," he states in a soon-to-be published report.

    Decha's study surveyed 15,284 mia farang in 19 provinces of the Northeast, ranging in age from 20 to 52 years of age, and averaging 32. Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and Nong Khai were the top three home provinces in terms of numbers.

    Most of the women - 69 per cent - had an education no higher than Grade 6, 24 per cent made it to Grade 9 and the remaining 7 per cent graduated from higher levels.

    Eighty per cent of them had been married before. Many have children with Thai husbands, the study found.

    More than 50 per cent were from farming households and found they could not survive economically after breaking up with their husbands.

    Many seek jobs in the service sector, such as hotel maids, waitresses or masseurs, which they feel give them a better chance of meeting foreigners.

    Many meet Western partners through neighbours or relatives who have married farang. The study says 63 per cent met their husbands independently in Bangkok, Pattaya or another big city, 35 per cent through a relative and 2 per cent on the Internet.

    Before meeting their farang partners, 33 per cent of the women had worked in Bangkok for less than Bt5,000 a month; 17 per cent worked in Pattaya for a similar income; 13 per cent worked in other tourist cities for salaries around Bt7,000; 26 per cent were farmers with a Bt1,000-per-month income; and 11 per cent had already worked abroad, many in factories, for salaries in the Bt30,000 range.

    Since marrying, 72 per cent have become housewives and receive money from their husbands upon request. The women send an average of Bt8,000 a month back to their families.

    The top three home countries of the husbands are Germany, Switzerland and England (20, 14 and 12 per cent, respectively). Other husbands of the women surveyed were from Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Sweden, France, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, Scotland, Italy, Norway, Greece and Israel, and Asian nations including Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, with small numbers from Laos, Hong Kong, South Korea, Kuwait and China.

    Businessmen comprised the largest group of foreign husbands (22 per cent), with smaller numbers working as state officials, technicians, engineers, retirees, teachers and doctors.

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