Man Defies Thai-Malaysian Border Lockdown, Swims Across

Ratanapol Pan-un after he was rescued from the sea on April 14, 2020. Photo: Thairath
Ratanapol Pan-un after he was rescued from the sea on April 14, 2020. Photo: Thairath

SATUN —  Stranded in Malaysia after the border was shut, a Thai fishery worker on Tuesday braved through the currents across the border in a bid to return to his home.

Police said a fisherman found Ratanapol Pan-un, 45, drifting in the sea close to the shore of Puyu sub-district this morning. Ratanapol, a Satun native who worked on a fishing boat in Malaysia, was rescued and subsequently brought to a state quarantine facility, where he will be isolated for the next 14 days.

“The man actually walked all the way to the border until he could find a closest spot to swim across,” Satun Marine Police inspector Banjerd Manavej said. “The point where he attempted to swim is only 100 meters wide, but strong currents washed him further into the sea.”

Lt. Col. Banjerd said Ratanapol was worn out when the fisherman approached him. Although he showed no symptoms associated with the coronavirus, he was sent to a hospital for checkup as a precaution.

As for his illegal entry into the country, the police inspector said he is coordinating with the immigration police to file criminal charges against Ratanapol.

“He is now at the state quarantine facility and he will spend the next 14 days over there,” Banjerd said. “He doesn’t have to do this since border checkpoints will reopen this Saturday, but I understand that the man desperately needs to return home.”

Satun closed its border checkpoints with Malaysia on March 23, while its entry and exit points with other provinces were also shut on April 3.

The southern province reported two cases of infection yesterday. Its total tally now stands at 17.