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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2006, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Shetland deportation plan outcry
Sakchai Makao was jailed in 2004 for starting a fire
Sakchai Makao was jailed in 2004 for starting a fire
A campaign is under way in Shetland to fight the deportation of a young Thai man who has lived there for 13 years.

Sakchai Makao, 23, who has been on the island since he was 10, was taken from his home in Lerwick after a raid by immigration officers.

His detention is believed to be part of Home Office efforts to trace foreign nationals who have a criminal record.

Mr Makao, a sports centre worker and talented athlete, was jailed for 15 months in 2004 for fire-raising.

He was flown to the mainland on Tuesday to be held at a police station and may be considered for deportation.

'Appalling' treatment

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael said he was concerned about the handling of the situation and was working to secure legal aid for Mr Makao.

Mr Carmichael told BBC Scotland: "One has to wonder whether in fact this was necessary.

"Has there been any question of Mr Makao being given the opportunity to leave voluntarily if there is a good ground for deportation?

Mr Makao was taken from his Lerwick home to the mainland

"And if there's not a good ground then frankly this is an appalling way to treat people.

"So there will be questions to be asked about this.

"But in the first instance my concern is to secure his personal position."

Petitions have been started by local people to support Mr Makao.

The Home Office told the BBC Scotland news website it could not comment on individual cases, but said foreign nationals had to obey the law.

Mr Makao was sentenced to 15 months in prison in January 2004 for fire-raising.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard the incidents, in 2002, saw a mobile building and car destroyed by fire when he was drunk in "two moments of madness".

Mr Makao has won athletics medals in Shetland, taking part in sports such as the long jump and triple jump.

We asked do you live in Shetland and know Sakchai Makao? Did you sign a petition asking for him to be allowed to stay?

This is appaling! I went to School with Sakchai for 5 years and he was possibly one of the nicest people I met there, friendly, funny, active and about as decent a person as you can get. His incident with the fire-raising is of course a crime and I think that the jail sentence will have taught him the error of his ways. But to use him as a political pawn in the deportation scandal is a disgusting abuse of power. Using Sakchai's ethnicity and the fact that he committed a single crime as a way to score political points is a disgusting abuse of his human rights.
Chris Jamieson, Edinburgh

Well done the Home Office. We complain about leniency against convicted criminals and now we complain when we deport those here who commit crime. Let's not forget who the convicted criminal is.
Robert Andrew, Lerwick

Sakchai is a really good friend of mine who I have known since secondary school and - as anyone else who knows him well would say - is well liked and very popular in Shetland. He has many friends, works hard, pays his taxes and does everything else a model citizen does. He is being victimised by a government trying to please the electoral right and with no concern about the opinions of Shetlanders. Whatever happened to devolution and local government? Decisions like this are made by pen pushing bureaucrats in distant offices - not by local people with local knowledge and local concerns. This is very wrong indeed and I'm deeply concerned for Sakchai's well being as I don't believe he has any contacts in Thailand and is to all intents and purposes a fully nationalised UK citizen.
Chris Hadland, Belfast

I, like eveyone else am appalled at the way Sakchai has been treated. It is horrific to think that all this has been crated for goverment facts and figures. What kind of country are we evolving to? Sakchai has worked all his working life, paying taxes and national insurance. There are worse citizens who were born here and have committed the worst crimes possible who dont get treated this way . Surely Thailand cannot be called his home simply because he was born there. Its a farce. How many youths have slipped up once or twice? Many. How many of them have moved on with their lives like Saktchai has, away from cime, working in a well paid job? Not as many. He is a valuable citizen to our islands and the UK as a whole. To send someone to a country they have no family in, no 'home' there and don't speak the language is an absolute infringement on human rights. This goverment should be ashamed.
Katherine Manson, Lerwick

I agree, this man committed a crime and is not originally of this country. When the Scotsman who carried out sex attacks in Australia was released we had to take him eback here so the same must stand for all others ... I've said my piece.
Terry Ogg, Lerwick

I cannot believe that such a good natured and talented person has been the target of the governments weak attempt to cover up their mistakes! The treatment Sakchai recieved is a crime in itself and in my mind is a complete violation of human rights. Also are the police in Shetland incapable? I think the 8 police they dragged up from the mainland would've been better used to track the real criminals. What a waste of public money! I hope to see him back at home in Shetland very soon!
Kirsti Leask, Lerwick

I do not know Satchai well but have met him before. If he is to be deported because he has a record for setting fire to a car it's pathetic, there are far more people that are a danger to the community and Britain as a whole and it is safe to say that the majority of them are born BRITISH CITIZENS, so I think the goverment should have reality check and get a grip and leave innocent kind people like Satchai alone
Mary Walterson, Lerwick

I am thoroughly shocked and appalled about the fact that Sakchai is facing deportation. He is a top athlete, a great friend and is a truly Shetland man through and through. I urge the Home office to put an end to this frankly scandalous affair and get him back where he belongs immediately. This is a shocking example of the Labour government attempting to remedy their earlier mistakes in releasing hundreds or foreign criminals. Sakchai paid for his crime, and the very fact that he was given his job back by the local council shows in how high regard he was, and continues to be held. The whole of Shetland will fight for his return. Outrageous.
Rory Binns, Lerwick

I can't believe this. I live with Sakchai and been good friends with him for 7 years and never met a nicer or more liked guy. I sometimes hate going out with him cause everyone stops to speak to him and you can't get nowhere for people this is just the goverment trying to up their stats why aren't they out their catch the murderers, rapists and terrorists thats done alot worse then sakchai he was just an easy target. Everyone misses him we've had so much support with petitions everyones backing him.
Jamie Henderson, Lerwick

Sakchai has lived here since he was 10, he has a job and is paying tax and National Insurance. Sakchai is a good friend of mine. I want to express my disgust at the Home Office's handling of the young Shetland man Sakchai Makao. I am horrified at the actions taken in the name of the Brittish Justice and Security. Once again the Government has failed to recongise the key risks to home secutrity and instead have wasted their efforts on criminalising an innocent Scottish man.
Jordan Ogg, Lerwick

This seems like a way for the government to cover up their mistakes. Yes there are bad criminals, but Sakchai made a simple mistake and paid for his crime. To me it is criminal to take a young man from his home (a young man whom to us is as much a Shetlander than any of us)and want to deport him to thailand.where he can't talk the language has no family in Thailand and if deported will probably end up serving for the Thai army. our government disgusts me. Tracy Uren
Tracy Uren, Shetland

It is absolutely unacceptable what is happening to Sakchai. Sakchai is a Shetlander through-and-through and a very well known-popular figure around Lerwick and indeed Shetland.
James Stewart, Lerwick

I think it's terrible what has happened to him. I hope sum can get it sorted oot n get him bk in shetland as soon as.
Maree Deans, Firth

I can't believe Sakchai is being treated this way. He is such a great guy with so much time for everyone.
Lisa Sandison, Aberdeen

I do not know Sakchai all that well, but as I grew up he was always very much part of the community in Shetland. The government's action here really does defy logic, and it really upsets me that such a colossal mistake has been made. Sakchai is part of Shetland, he belongs there. 13 years is a lot of friends, and a lot of connections. I urge everyone to sign the petition, and to take any action possible that may help to prevent his deportation.
Christopher Thomson, Glasgow

As far as I'm concerned it's a completely OTT knee-jerk reaction to try to boost Government figures after their earlier Home Office cock-up. Why did it need 8 officers from the mainland to arrest a 23 year old who made one mistake and has already paid for it? As is evident from the support he's been receiving on a local internet forum, Sakchai has in fact touched the lives of many people in the community in a positive way.
Lorna Leask, Lerwick

What is our legal system coming to when they can punish a person twice for the same crime. Sakchai is no criminal, he done something stupid and paid the price. All of us that know him, know him to be a pleasant and popular guy. So come on Tony Blair leave the boy alone to get on with his life
Louis Gerty, Lerwick

The way Sakchai is being treated is absolutely appalling, he is a good, genuine guy and is very much a Shetlander. The Home Office would do better using their time to trace real criminals.
Clare Pearson, Aberdeen (originally Shetland)

The goverment is a shambles. Just when you thought they might save some respect they lose everyone's votes in Shetland and I'm sure a few in Scotland too. Vote Labour out at the next election
Elliot Tait, Lerwick

Police tracking foreign criminals
28 May 06 |  Scotland

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