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Why many Thais have a long surname

Lots of foreigners have asked me about the length of Thais' surnames. For example my last name is NI-RAT-PAT-TA-NA-SAI. Perhaps, I should write about this matter.

Usually, the native Thai folks, have quite a short surname.. for example - BOONMEE, SRISAI, etc. However, most of the people who have the long last name are the subsequent generation of Chinese Immigrant. In order to have better understanding, let's look back to the society's history.

Many years ago, when China mainland transformed the countries political system from a Monarchy to Communist, lots of Chinese left the country seeking a new life opportunity. Many of them selected Thailand as their destination. They started a new life in the Kingdom with prosperity. They still kept their identity by using their Chinese name. Thereafter, their kids, the following generation, were born with a Thai Name. However, they still used a Chinese last name like Tang, Lim, Ng, etc. They then came to realise that it was not localized enough to have a Thai name with a Chinese last name. They began to apply for a Thai last name. That is the starting point of this story. When you go to apply for Thai last name, the regulation for registration of the new last name is as follows:

  1. The applicants submit 5 alternatives to the government officer. Each one has a maximum of 10 Thai characters.
  2. The officer will search in the data base for identical last names. The law does allow identical last names to those existing already So hopefully, one of your 5 alternatives will be unique and can be used.
  3. About one month later, you will check with the officer. If there is any duplication, you need to create the new one and resubmit it again. If not the case, you can use the real NEW last name.
Since we have a lot of immigrant Chinese, subsequent applicants have to create a new name that has a low probability of duplication. Thus, the new surnames just get longer and longer.

So next time, if you see Thais who have long surname, you may want to ask them whether they are Chinese.

Notebook Electrical Supply & Plug

For the past few months, some of my foreign visitors, have faced difficulty in using their computer notebooks. One was unable to operate it due to the fact that their notebook's electrical power supply plug did not fit in the Thai outlet (electrical supply socket). The other one was unable to use it due to the different voltage between machine and the electrical supply source.

Typically, electrical supply outlets (sockets) in Thailand are designed for a two-pin plug. Randomly, you might find some hotels or offices that have three-pin sockets. You might carry converters and a set of adapter plugs with you. Converters and sets of adapter plugs are available at travel & luggage stores and at Radio Shack/Tandy and other electronic stores. They are available in airport shops and duty free stores. A set of adapter plugs costs around $10 to $15US and in some stores you can buy an individual adapter for only a few dollars.

You can buy plug converter at most of department store or computer shop in Bangkok. However, it is better to be well prepared in advance.

In Thailand, the electric power supply sources provide electricitry at 220 Volts. If your equipment operates by using electric supply at 110 volts or other, you need to carry an adaptor. Otherwise, you have to find it locally. Sometimes, it's not easy to get an adaptor. You may consider buying a travel-size dual-voltage appliances that can run on both 110 and 220-volt currents. Make sure the switch is on the proper voltage for the country you are in before using the appliance.

You may find useful information regarding the electrical equipments for international traveller at this site: http://www.cris.com/~kropla/electric.htm

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai
DBS Thai Danu Bank, Bangkok, Thailand

...from Kriengsak Niratappanasai's Thailand Tales

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Kriengsak Niratpattanasai Thai Danu Bank Bangkok Thailand

Kriengsak was one of the Asian Business Strategy & Street Intelligence Ezine's earliest columnists and continues to provide some of the most savvy advice on the Net on working in Thailand. His down to earth advice from years of working with falang and locals mixed with local folkstories continues to delight and inform. Click on Kriengsak's picture to learn more about our great friend and colleague. Kriengsak Niratpattanasai: Bangkok, Thailand Thailand Tales Index - About Kriengsak - Other Columnists

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