Datuk Jojie Samuel, Malaysia’s Ambassador to Thailand. -NSTP

GEORGE TOWN: Malaysians wishing to travel to Thailand for the visit of Pope Francis must apply for seats directly if they wish to attend a special mass at the Supachalasai National Stadium in Bangkok, on Nov 21.

Malaysia’s Ambassador to Thailand Datuk Jojie Samuel said that in addition to the mass on Nov 21, a second mass for 1,500 Christian youths from across Thailand will be presided over by the Holy Father at the Assumption Cathedral in the Thai capital on Nov 22.

“The mass on Nov 21 is open to visiting Malaysians,” he told the New Straits Times.

“However, we have been informed by the Secretariat of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand that they are unable to allocate seats to archdioceses outside of Thailand for the Papal Mass on Nov 21.

“Individuals may apply directly for entry tickets via e-mail to [email protected],” he added.

Samuel said that owing to a large number of requests for tickets to attend the Papal Mass, there may be limited available space, even for the Thai Catholics.

“The Organising Committee, therefore, has decided to reserve Thephasadin Stadium, which is next door to the Supachalasai National Stadium.

“The Pope will be making his brief journey through the grounds of Thephasadin Stadium in a Popemobile, before entering the main stadium to commence the Holy Mass,” he added. A Popemobile is a specially-designed motor vehicle used by the Pope of the Catholic Church during public appearances.

Samuel said that there will be four nigh-emitting diode (LED) screens see up in the centre of Thephasadin Stadium to ensure a proper view for all.

“Those unable to gain entry to the stadium can watch a live broadcast of the Mass on a big screen outside,” he added.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Thailand from Nov 20 to 23, after which he proceeds to Japan, from Nov 23 to 26, before returning to Rome.

This will be the second visit of a Pontiff to Thailand in over 35 years, after that of Pope Saint John Paul II in 1984.

Catholics form a tiny minority of 0.5 per cent of Thailand’s over 68 million population, over 90 per cent of whom are Buddhists.

Samuel said members of the diplomatic corps in Thailand will be welcoming Pope Francis on Nov 21 at a welcome ceremony at the Government House in Bangkok.

“On the same evening, we have also received invitations to the Papal Mass at the National Stadium,” he added.

Samuel said a few thousand foreigners are expected in Thailand for the Papal visit, especially those from neighbouring countries.

“We are unable to ascertain the exact number of Malaysians coming to Bangkok for this purpose, as arrangements for their visits are done on their own.

“The Embassy wishes to advise Malaysians to be extra careful and vigilant, especially with their personal belongings and passports,” he added.