Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Deputy FM: Migrant workers are good people

By Hseng Khio Fah

(Shanland) -A representative of the Burmese military government, while meeting with Thai labor mister last Saturday said families of migrant workers applying for new passport documents under the national verification process will not be harassed, according to The Manager Online, 11 July.

On 11 July, visiting Burma’ Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint and Thailand Labor Minister Paitoon Kaewthong met in Phuket on regulations for the verification of Burmese nationals in Thailand and in Burma in order to allow them to reside and work as legal laborers in Thailand.

Thailand Labor Minister Paitoon Kaewthong and Burma’ Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint (Photo: manager online)

Mr Paitoon said, about 20,000 applications have been sent to the Burmese government. But only some 7,000 were issued passports. Using non-Burmese language in filling up the forms and providing false information on the applicants’ home addresses were cited as problems for the rest. (JEG's: generals' kids and elite attached to junta can obtain passports with false data, perhaps the rejections were used to generate passports for the corrupted in need of a passport to travel abroad and enjoy the benefits of the west without being sanctioned)

About 500,000 migrant workers are registered with the labor ministry. Since early this month, the provincial employment authorities have been calling on new migrant workers for registration. They will be asked to fill up the new nationality identification forms starting 15 July.

The passport issuing offices will be opening along the Thai-Burma border at Myawaddy, Tachilek and Kawthawng (Victoria Point). About 200 workers will be accepted per day. The visa fee on the Thai side will be 2,000 Baht per person. They will be allowed to work for another 2 years with another 2 years of extension.

There are at least 2 million legal and illegal migrant workers in Thailand. But there is no law to protect those migrant workers.

“After July, crackdown operation on illegal migrants will be conducted,” the report quoted the minister as saying.

Maung Myint during the meeting, said many migrants are afraid to apply for the national verification process because of rumors that we [local authorities] will use their information to persecute their families.

“The government will never do so because it believes that people working in Thailand are good people and their jobs are also legal,” the report quoted him as saying.

He continued that the Burmese government has been trying to solve the problem of illegal Burmese migrant workers in Thailand for about 5 years. However, it had failed to achieve it until now because of many difficulties; among those were language problems and inaccurate addresses.

At the same time, there was a two day meeting of provincial authorities, doctors and provincial employment authorities with over two hundred employers from Chiangmai province to discuss the national verification process, according to Nang Hern Kham, Shan Radio Program and Education Media in Chiangmai.

“Most bosses seems to have less interest in the process as they think it is a waste of their time queuing up for their turns and others are worried for the security of their workers,” she said.

Phanthila Kaewboonrueng from provincial employment department office said that Thailand will not interrupt internal affairs of neighboring countries, in reply to the question by an employer, “Who is going to take responsibility if workers’ families are persecuted by the Burmese authorities.”

In 2006, Thailand and Burma agreed to set up nationality identification centers for Burmese migrant workers. But the two countries failed to successfully implement the agreement, when news of junta authorities terrorizing their families coercing them to pay bribes, after using their personal information received through the work permit process, to find their relatives, were reported.

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