Category Archives: Migration Policy in Thailand

Government targets restart of migrant registration, Myanmar Times

Thailand and Myanmar still seem to be at odds over how and when the migrant workforce will be regularised and given legal papers. The latest disruption occurred when Thai authorities last month ordered Myanmar to stop providing temporary documents.

Myanmar’s Labour Ministry says it is confident though that the verification process that began in July, under which it was supplying certificates of identity to eligible migrants, will likely move ahead within the calendar year.

The latest scheme got under way in May 2014 when the Thai military junta announced an amnesty window for undocumented workers and provided those who registered with temporary “pink cards”. Almost half a million Myanmar workers have registered for the cards – just a fraction of the estimated 3-4 million working in Thailand.

But the process has been subject to stops and starts, tepid beginnings and hasty reversals, and miles of red tape. Those who signed up for temporary documents are supposed to be granted passports, but the process has been derailed by a lack of coordination between the neighbouring countries. Rights groups say that as a result, the process has done little to help migrants, and has instead enabled officials and brokers to profit by extorting money from the vulnerable workforce.

In the middle of this year, Myanmar dispatched a delegation which included immigration and labour officials and employment agency representatives meant to survey and verify the nationality of the Myanmar pink-card holders caught in legal limbo since the amnesty period.

The process hit a wall though when Thailand declared that the certificate of identity documents being provided by the Myanmar teams were out-of-sync with Thai migration policies. On October 20, Thailand sent a letter informing Myanmar that it must stop the process as the delegations were not approved, and the documents being issued did not provide a valid legal basis for the workers’ stay in Thailand.

“I think we will be resuming the verification process soon,” said Daw Khin Nwe Oo, a senior official from the migrant affairs department of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Welfare. She acknowledged, however, that negotiations with Thailand to secure the necessary approval have yet to be resolved.

U Sein Oo, a director general at the foreign affairs ministry, said the Thai government halted the verification scheme because they wanted to excise paragraphs from the certificate of identity papers. Specifically, he said, Bangkok wants to remove three paragraphs, including that the document could be used as proof of Myanmar citizenship within Myanmar, and that it will expire within two years, at which time the holder must apply for a passport.

“The reason Thailand gave for removing these paragraphs was that it did not concern them and it is only related to Myanmar,” U Sein Oo told The Myanmar Times.

U Myo Aung, a permanent secretary in the labour ministry, said both sides recognise that negotiations must conclude quickly, as the current batch of pink cards issued to migrants are set to expire in March 2016.

“We have already decided to accept Thailand’s demands and remove some paragraph, and have informed them via their foreign affairs office,” he said. “We are anxious to resume the process before the end of this month.”

Thai-based organisation the Migrant Worker Rights Network said the reasons for issuing certificates of identity are still unclear, however. It characterised the certificates as a “half-way-style verification document” that would require follow-up – and likely more fees – in order to obtain a Myanmar passport.

“This evidences how poor relations and coordination between Myanmar and Thailand continue to be on migration issues,” said U Sein Htay, a senior member from the MWRN.

“If the Myanmar government issued temporary passports to migrant workers instead, the workers would be much better positioned under the law,” he added.

Ko Tin Tun Hlaing, a 30-year-old migrant worker in southern Thailand, said he feels vulnerable even with a pink card. The temporary document was costly to procure but has brought few benefits.

He added that Myanmar workers are often bullied and extorted because they lack official paperwork.

“I really want a policy that lays out an exact, long-term plan for us,” he said. “If so, we could be a lot more confident in our rights as migrant workers.”

By Nyan Lynn Aung

Published on 24 November 2015

3,000 Vietnamese allowed to work in Thailand for one year, National News Bureau of Thailand

About 3,000 Vietnamese migrants will be legally allowed to work in Thailand for one year.

The cabinet approved the Ministry of Labor’s proposal for migrant workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia to be employed in fish processing factories and others in fishery sector in 22 coastal provinces.

Thiat is part of the government measure to solve problems related to illegal fishing. In addition, the cabinet also approved the registration for some 3,000 Vietnamese migrant workers who held tourist visas to Thailand before February 10, 2015.

The Vietnamese will be given legal permission to work in Thailand for one year as fisherman, laborer, housemaid or restaurant worker, following a Memorandum of Understanding earlier reached between Thailand and Vietnam.

By National News Bureau of Thailand

Published on 10 November 2015

S44 order shakes up social security system, Bangkok Post

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has issued an order under Section 44 of the interim constitution reforming the country’s social security system, Labour Minister Sirichai Distakul said on Monday.

NCPO Order No 40/2014, issued by the prime minister in his capacity as chairman of the National Council for Peace and Order, was published in the Royal Gazette on Nov 8 and took effect immediately.

Gen Sirichai said the order aims at reforming the social security system and the operations of the Office of the Compensation Fund and the Social Security Office, to ensure transparency and good governance for the benefit of all employers, employees and security fund members.

Under the order, the social security board, the medical board, and the compensation fund committee set up under the 4th Social Security Act of 2015 are abolished and replaced with new ones.

The new social security board has 15 members, chaired by the permanent secretary of the Labour Ministry.

The social security board has five advisers.  They are: Pan Wanpinij, Ampol Singhakowin, Lt Gen Krisda Duang-urai, Thavorn Panichpan and Gen Apichart Saengrungruang.

The new medical board has 16 members, chaired by Chatree Banchuen.

The new compensation fund committee has 14 members, chaired by the secretary-general of the Social Security Office.

Appointments to the new social security board, medical committee and compensation fund committee are for terms of two years.

By Bangkok Post

Published on 9 November 2015

CSD moves to curb trafficking at market, Bangkok Post

Talad Thai serves as pilot for new crime busting model.

Police have set their sights on combating human trafficking and mafia influence and found a gathering place of migrant workers close to Bangkok where they can practice a systematic crackdown operation.

Talad Thai, the country’s largest wholesale market for agricultural products in Pathum Thani to the north of Bangkok, provides the police with a real-life situation where they can launch a comprehensive crackdown on activities ranging from human trade to other serious crimes such as drugs and predatory lending, according to Crime Suppression Division (CSD) chief Akkaradej Pimolsri.

He said various crimes can occur in the vast market and the local police are not adequately equipped to suppress them.

Talad Thai on the Asian Highway is known for its bustling trade. It is home to a large community of migrant workers, some of whom fall prey to labour exploitation and illegal trafficking.

It gave the police an overview of how criminal activities are interconnected. Police hope to design a comprehensive crime suppression model which, if successful, could be applied elsewhere in the country.

The so-called “Talad Thai model” will be explained to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha before it is approved for use in other areas.

In the Sept 17 raid, a large contingent of police and military were mobilised in and around the 500-rai market. Apart from the 350 CSD police, 150 soldiers from the 1st Army and another 30 police from the Narcotics Suppression Bureau also took part.

Their initial goal was to help local police, who face limited resources and manpower, deal with large-scale criminal offences in the market.

Based on the raid, the CSD categorised key crimes which take place in Talad Thai. Topping the list is human trafficking, which is the most serious, followed by organised crime, mafia influence, drugs and loan sharks. “Our emphasis is on human trade,” Pol Maj Gen Akkaradej said.

He insisted the raid did not result from pressure from Washington to solve human trafficking. “We’ve found the human trade is linked to local influential figures in the area,” he said, adding that human trafficking in Talad Thai also leads to forced labour and prostitution.

Pol Maj Gen Akkaradej said tackling problems that stem from human trafficking requires cooperation from employers.

The CSD plans to adopt methods to keep employers and employees in check and prevent crime.

They include surveying and compiling records of labourers and their bosses, having workers wear T-shirts with different colours, educating employers and seeking help from local people.

The migrants will be assigned different coloured shirts to wear according to their countries of origin and with the names of their employers printed on them. The workers will also wear an ID badge.

The move will help police detect where the workers gather. The authorities can also easily identify and reach them if need be, according to the CSD. The measures will be carried out along with the police registration of workers and their bosses.

Key details of the workers will be recorded, including whether they have relatives and friends who also work in Thailand. This will help systematise employment at Talad Thai for security and crime suppression purposes, Pol Maj Gen Akkaradej said.

At the same time, the employers will be informed of the laws and penalties against human trafficking. Local people also will be asked to report any suspicious activities at the market.

Pol Maj Gen Akkaradej added authorities also planned to rein in influential figures at the market.

The police are compiling a list of mafia individuals in Pathum Thani who may be active at the market. Similar arrangements are planned for loan sharks and drug peddlers.

Pol Maj Gen Akkaradej said police will take tough legal measures against offenders if they fail to heed warnings to cease their activities. The loan sharks, for example, could be charged with tax evasion and face criminal prosecution.

Drug problems also need urgent attention as Talad Thai is believed to be a transit point of drugs transported mainly from the North to Bangkok.

In the view to the CSD, the problems at Talad Thai could well represent a microcosm of the criminal situation in other areas of the country.

By Bangkok Post

Published on 9 November 2015

Govt. continuously combats human trafficking, National News Bureau of Thailand

The government continues to tackle human trafficking, a national agenda issue, in the hope to raise Thailand’s worker protection to meet international standards.

The government has completed an operational plan to prevent human trafficking in the labor sector in 2016. In the short term, there will be strategies to control employment agencies and urgently identify citizenship of foreign workers. Relevant laws will also be revised.

The plan’s long-term solutions focus on the promotion of exporting and importing of workers by the government as well as legal actions against government employees and other people involved in human trafficking. Relevant units will be urged to work together more closely in fighting against human trafficking in all dimensions.

By National News Bureau of Thailand
Published on 8 November 2015
Back to Top