ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Go easy on surrogates, Australia asks Thailand
Publication Date : 10-08-2014
Australia has asked Thailand to "go easy" on the enforcement of surrogacy rules before a law on this is enacted, Thai Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow said yesterday.
In a bilateral meeting on the sideline of the Asean meeting in Naypyitaw, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Sihasak that her government had no policy to support commercial surrogacy and Thailand had full authority to handle the issue in accordance with its laws.
The use of surrogate mothers has become a bilateral issue between Thailand and Australia since news came out that a baby boy born to a Thai surrogate was allegedly abandoned by an Australian couple after they found he had Down's syndrome. Inquiries into the case found the surrogacy was arranged by a clinic in Bangkok as a commercial arrangement.
Sihasak said Bishop had told him that Canberra never supported Australians travelling to Thailand to get surrogate children. But there may be ongoing cases in which surrogate mothers are still pregnant and Australia had asked Thai authorities to treat them gently for humanitarian reasons, Sihasak said.
Asked what the Australian government could do about the case of a baby boy nicknamed Gammy born to a Chon Buri woman late last year, Sihasak said Australian charity groups had lent support to this case (collecting donations for the mother).
In the meeting, Sihasak also discussed political developments in Thailand. He said that Bishop had expressed her understanding about developments in Thailand and offered assistance for the reform process, if Thailand would want it.
The Abbott government strongly criticised the coup and curtailed some military activities with Thailand after the military seized power on May 22. "But the meeting mostly focused on future of relations," he said.
Journalists in Bangkok believe there could still dozens of Thai surrogatescarrying children for Australian couples.
Meanwhile, the Australian couple who allegedly left Gammy here with its surrogate mother will tell their side of the story publicly for the first time today (August 10) on the Australian TV show '60 Minutes'.
The couple will not be paid for their appearance but bosses of the programme will donate an undisclosed sum to the Hands Across the Water charity, which is raising money for Gammy's care.
In a related development, police have asked for DNA tests on the nine infants found in a Lat Phrao condominium in Bangkok and interviewed nannies caring for them and several of the surrogate mothers.
Officers have not decided if this case is human trafficking, saying they want to question the Japanese man who made the surrogacy arrangements about his intent and subsequent actions, deputy police chief General Pol Gen Ake Angsananont said.
But other police said they suspect these babies are part of a racket.
Police have asked Japan for information about Shigeta Mitsutoki, 24, the man who allegedly fathered the babies via the Thai surrogates, and for help in locating him for questioning.
An informed source said Japanese media were in Cambodia to look for four infants Mitsutoki was believed to have already taken out of Bangkok, after learning he was an executive of four companies in Phnom Penh.
Meanwhile, Thailand's Department of Health Service Support said it would file this week two charges against the operators of the involved fertility clinic for violations of the Hospital Act 1998.