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Kimberley Ching-Yong with Ricardo: an international battle for the boy

Phuket Boy Ricardo Safe in Europe: Mother Calls Interpol

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
PHUKET-born Ricardo Choosaneh, the nine-year-old abducted twice in the past nine months, is believed to now be in the Netherlands - and about to become the centre of an international wrangle between his warring parents.

His Thai mother Sumetha now has Interpol investigating the most recent abduction from Phuket. Khun Sumetha is planning to go to the Netherlands to fight for custody of Ricardo.

And she is also considering legal action against Dutch officials in Thailand who facilitated the escape overseas of Ricardo's foster-mother, Kimberley Ching-Yong, with the boy.

A popular ''missing persons'' show scheduled for Friday on Dutch television is likely to mark the return of the boy to the Netherlands and into the official custody of his father, Michael Roland van Alphen.

Foster-mother Ms Ching-Yong is said to be planning to celebrate her birthday later this month with special delight now that she has Ricardo with her again in the Dutch city of Delft.

However, if Interpol investigators decide that she has been in the wrong by snatching the boy back from his natural mother on Phuket, her joy may be short-lived.

While Ms Ching-Yong harbors deep affection for Ricardo and regards him as a son, her legal status in regard to the boy appears unclear to everyone except the Dutch authorities who provided her with documentation that allowed her to leave Thailand with the boy.

Mr van Alphen had been previously granted custody by a Dutch court at a hearing at which Ricardo's mother was not represented, but the issue of which parent should be Ricardo's permanent custodian remains clouded.

A new hearing at which both parents are represented - and where Ms Ching-Yong can also have a say - seems the only solution.

Rapproachment between the natural mother and the foster mother has ended twice in abductions, the first by Khun Sumetra when she spirited her son to France from Delft, and the second by Ms Ching-Yong when she appears to have stolen Ricardo from Phuket via Malaysia to Europe.

It's obvious that the two women and his great aunt Prangtip Sakornsin, who has written in detail about the case, are torn by love of the boy. The only real issue, though, is Ricardo's future best interests.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


It would seem logical that the reason for the Dutch officials to assist the return of Ricardo to Holland is the court verdict assigning his father sole custody.

In taking her son without consent from the father the mother broke the law.

As to why Ricardo's mother chose not to be represented at the trial is anyone's guess. Absence is no defense.

Custodial hearings are extremely painful and usually boil down to the character of each parent. Unless we get the transcripts from that trial we will not know what was it about the character of the mother that made the court deny her custody.

However that is the legal ruling on the issue and the law must be abided to.

If Kimberley Ching-Yong broke the law in taking Ricardo back, then legal action should be taken against her just as well as Khun Sumetra if she illegally took Ricardo to Thailand.

Imagine what all this is causing to Ricardo. He is just a young boy who needs stability and security in life.

I'm sure the courts will concentrate on his well-being.

Posted by Chris on March 2, 2011 13:41

Editor Comment:

I'm not so sure. Courts can vary in quality from country to country, from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Courts can make mistakes: if the great aunt's summation of the temperament and motivation of the boy's father is anywhere near the truth, the Dutch court - it's not a ''trial'' except for its affect on Ricardo - made a huge mistake. Was the mother even informed that the hearing was taking place? You can't make that assumption, unless you have unreasonable faith in Dutch custody courts. We'd certainly like to know more about what transpired, and why, but we don't share your touching faith in all courts everywhere at all times to produce justice. It just doesn't happen, Chris. We look forward to a hearing in which both sides are presented. Whether the Dutch officials did the right thing should also be investigated. As much as we sympathise with Kimberley's deep feelings, what she did in snatching back the boy was wrong. If there was a case for Ricardo's return, then the Thai authorities should have pursued it.


From the last reports she wasn't caring for Ricardo, she was in BKK. Maybe, just maybe, if she'd been with Ricardo this would never of happened. Didn't the Dutch Court Rule in the Fathers favor due to her not being around?

Posted by Graham on March 2, 2011 15:34

Editor Comment:

In the 21st Century, mothers are not expected to spend their entire lives with children. The boy was not short of anything on Phuket, including affection. We have no idea on what basis the Dutch court made its decision, but we have been told that the mother was working in France to support her son and the boy's allegedly indolent father. No word on what he says about that.


Interpol is not "available" to private people it is an agency that functions as an administrative liaison between the law-enforcement agencies of the member countries, providing communications and database assistance among other, but maybe the Thai police contacted Interpol on behalf of the mother, but not likely as I believe such a contact would have to be supported by a court decision in Thailand showing that a crime has been committed and that there is substantial proof thereof .

Posted by Bjarne on March 2, 2011 15:38

Editor Comment:

That's correct. We're told that the mother contacted Interpol through the Thai Royal Police, and that a warrant has been issued.


Khun Prangtip Sakornsin and Khun Sumetha should have gone to a Dutch court instead of abducting Ricardo. Khun Sumetha created a mess. It is a criminal matter now, including jail time.

Posted by John Phoenix on March 2, 2011 19:06

Editor Comment:

To view the issue through prison bars is miserably myopic. ''Family abductions'' do not automatically warrant that kind of punishment. The scorecard reads one-all on abductions.


I have to disagree.

The score is hardly even. No court has granted custody to the Mother and Ricardo was illegally in her family's care.

Abducting a child in defiance of a court ruling is hardly the same as returning the child to it's legal custodian.

In the mean time I wonder who is caring for Sumetra's two other children in France.

She's now put herself in a situation where she's likely to be arrested upon entering the EU.

Even if she suddenly wanted to care for them, she most likely could not.

Hardly the actions of a responsible parent.

Cases like this raise strong emotions and both sides may have valid concerns. However illegal action should never be encouraged or lauded.

There are appeal mechanisms in place in the judicial system in Holland.

I suggest the family of Sumetra gather their extensive resources and pursue the issue through legal avenues.

Posted by Chris on March 2, 2011 22:54

Editor Comment:

It surprises me that so many people are experts on international child custody - almost as many as the number of experts on journalism. We've spoken to both sides yet we wouldn't attempt to make such judgements. What's needed is a fair and just hearing. There hasn't been one yet.


The boy is just lucky he is going through the Dutch Court System and not the Thai System.

I would be amazed if the courts rule in favor of the biological mother. Should be interesting to follow.

Posted by Joel M on March 3, 2011 04:51

Editor Comment:

What's certainly true is that the Dutch court system needs to prove it can make a fair judgement, based on hearing what all parties have to say, and in the best interests of the boy's future. That hasn't happened so far. You must have had wide experience in courts around the globe to be able to say that one country's judicial system is better than another.


The Editor is obviously living in a dream world if he thinks that the Thai parties in this have any international recourse. All your "information" is coming from a suspect Thai family who have made there money in very dubious circumstances and have not provided any proof at all of mistreatment of the boy by his father and step mother. Why not do some real journalism and get the court transcript so you can deal with facts and not innuendo from one very biased side as you currently are??

Posted by Jimmy on March 3, 2011 09:10

Editor Comment:

The court only heard one side of the story. We've talked at length to the foster mother, and reported her perspective in full. We've reported both sides. Perhaps you haven't read what both sides are saying.


I don't know about the Dutch system but in the UK the courts normally will automatically give preference to the mother.

However whether the child is currently living with the father or mother is also a factor as they would tend towards not moving the child unless the living conditions could be proved to unhealthy/dangerous.

In this case who knows? There seems to be not much details about the original Dutch judgment but then again matters pertaining to child custody are generally not released to the public.

Posted by Rob on March 3, 2011 09:24

Editor Comment:

The Dutch Embassy certainly considers it ''a private matter.''


"In the mean time I wonder who is caring for Sumetra's two other children in France."

You mean this woman has more children she's not caring for ?? How many kids has she left around the globe while 'studying' in bangkok ??

There's a legal process, she should have used it (Holland is a very fair country and has amazing levels of assistance for non Dutch speakers and immigrants.. I lived there as one and was amazed) to take the law into her own hands isn't how it works in modern societies, no matter how 'connected' the family may be in Patong.

Posted by LivinLOS on March 3, 2011 09:49

Editor Comment:

Right on cue, it's libelLOS, spreading a bit more malicious stuff about real-life people. Why don't you actually read the articles before offering up your poisonous opinions?


Was just seeing if you would bite.

You did ! :)

Posted by Joel M on March 3, 2011 10:02

Editor Comment:

Don't waste your time and mine, Joel. It only makes you look like a fool.


Ricardo already told the Netherlands press: "My mother (Sumetha) beat me and I had no friends. I was always alone, and not allowed to call my father."

What a sad story this is.

Here is the link:

Posted by John Phoenix on March 3, 2011 15:12

Editor Comment:

I am not sure that the 'Missing' show can be quoted with authority. Similar shows elsewhere often take a one-sided view. ''Dutch boy being rescued'' boosts the ratings. Interestingly, though, the promotion says Ricardo was smuggled to Malaysia on a boat, which indicates perhaps that his foster mother may not have had proper documentation.


Interesting story and I am sure that emotions are running wild on both sides.

If what is written in the program is true, then I would think that Khun Prangtip Sakornsin and Khun Sumetha might have a problem in getting the boy back.

The program claims against the Thai side are false papers used to get the boy, his mother hit him, he was always alone and he was not allowed to call MOM (I presume his stepmother[?] Kim)

Somebody create a torrent with English subtitles and upload it somewhere. Some people on the sidelines want to see it.

Whatever happens, one side is going to be pissed off.

Posted by Anonymous on March 3, 2011 18:34

Editor Comment:

What may interest the Thai and Malaysian authorities - and Interpol - is what is revealed about the boy's trip into Malaysia, and then to the Netherlands. If he was smuggled across the border on a boat, then clearly, terrorists and people traffickers could use the same system. If smuggling the boy around the border was necessary, how was the paperwork obtained for him to fly back to Europe with his foster-mother? Ricardo's mother certainly committed a ''family abduction.'' What did the foster-mother commit? Who supplied her with documents? Many other questions on various aspects can only be answered in a thorough and fair custody hearing.


I don't understand snatched back because there is no snatching at all. By Dutch and International law the mother of Ricardo has no right at all. She left him two year old that's why the father have custody!

Posted by Kees Potje on March 7, 2011 13:49

Editor Comment:

All mothers have rights. The first Dutch custody hearing failed to consider this mother's rights. She was working in France, to support the boy and his father, the whole time. What's needed is a full and honest second hearing. Otherwise, questions will remain about Dutch justice. It's to be hoped that not all people in the Netherlands believe justice only comes if you are Dutch.


All mothers have rights. The first Dutch custody hearing failed to consider this mother's rights. She was working in France, to support the boy and his father, the whole time. What's needed is a full and honest second hearing. Otherwise, questions will remain about Dutch justice. It's to be hoped that not all people in the Netherlands believe justice only comes if you are Dutch.So far comment from nameless editor and now my comment on him/her:
(moderated) The editor thinks he is some kind of God who knows it all, also it seems every morning he gets out of the wrong side of his bed! Its also strange the editor is nameless because of that he can be shameless! This editor is a disgrace for every newspaper and internet forum!

Posted by Kees Potje on March 8, 2011 15:35

Editor Comment:

Kees, Commenters are not permitted to libel real-life people. We intend to sue another Dutchman for his untrue allegations about Phuketwan on Facebook. Are Dutch people not taught about civility and respect for others? I think they probably are.
Surely you two are the only ones who behave in this fashion. And we wonder why . . . We've seen documents that tell us that the boy's mother sent large amounts to the boy's father while she worked at the Blue Elephant in France. You seem to have a problem with the mother having a chance to put her case in a fair court hearing. What are you afraid of? And why do you all think that exclamation marks help your case?


Why was she working in France? There are more then 40 Thai restaurants in Amsterdam alone. A lot of them are in need of good staff.

Posted by FS on March 13, 2011 12:26

Editor Comment:

She has two children in France.


My french resident card allows me to work legally only in France. However i have taken a risk when Mr. van Alphen asked me to help him in a snack bar (for free) in a camping [ground] named Oude de Boomgaard from march 2004 until september 2004 because the snack bar was closed. I do not know why (should ask Mr. Keith the owner or Miss Michelle his daughter but for sure that Mr. van Alphen brought me to the border 19 september2004 and gave me 212 euros and left me at the railway station. After that i refused to work in a rental box in Amsterdam.

Posted by sumetra choosaneh on March 16, 2011 09:54

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