Category Archives: Cambodia

Border staff allegedly demand bribes

Some Cambodian migrant workers crossing the border from Thailand for the Khmer New Year holiday claimed they were forced to pay 40,000 riel ($10) to get priority in filling out application forms and having their passports stamped at the Poi Pet International Border Checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province.

Roeun Sareth, a 26-year-old construction worker who has worked in Thailand for seven years, said on Wednesday that while he and many other migrant workers were queuing to fill out documents to cross the border, agents in civilian clothes approached them asking if anybody wanted to expedite the process.

“Other migrants and I spent 350 Thai baht [$10] for the VIP service. With the service, immigration officers at the Poipet International Border Checkpoint were quick to process paperwork and stamp our passports.”

“But without it, it would take us two to three days to get through. There were many agents who offered the service,” he said.

Pheng Sopheak, a vendor who recently returned from a shopping trip in Thailand, echoed Sareth’s remarks. She said the agents, who were not clad in police uniforms, stayed at the entrance calling out to migrant workers who wanted to quickly cross the border.

“Some were still asked to stand in line with migrants who didn’t pay for the VIP service and had to wait half a day for border security officers to process paperwork and stamp their passports,” she said.

Through its official Facebook page on March 9, the General Department of Immigration instructed all heads of border checkpoints to carry out their duties properly and offer free services to migrants crossing the border.

“Officers at all border checkpoints must provide convenience for Cambodians and foreigners who cross the border, especially Cambodian migrant workers who return from Thailand for the upcoming Khmer New Year holiday,” said the statement.

Filed a complaint

Hean Kimsoeun, a sociopolitical analyst, on Wednesday, filed a complaint to the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) seeking an investigation into allegations of bribes for quick service at the Poipet International Border Checkpoint.

“I have obtained evidence including a video clip and some documents to prove that officers at the Poipet International Border Checkpoint solicited money from Cambodian migrant workers who returned home for Khmer New Year,” he said.

“Each person paid about 350 baht, or around 40,000 riel, for quick process of paperwork and stamping of passports. I’ve already gathered enough information,” he said.

Khem Chetra, the immigration police bureau chief at the Poipet International Border Checkpoint, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

When The Post reached Keo Vanthorn, deputy director of the General Department of Immigration, for comment on Wednesday, a person who answered his phone said he was busy in a meeting.

ACU president Om Yentieng also could not be reached for comment.

An ACU officer who asked not to be identified only said that Kimsoeun’s complaint was “confidential”.

Sam Chankea, Banteay Meanchey provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, called on the General Department of Immigration to take more effective measures against solicitation at border checkpoints.

“When I previously organised a workshop on people’s rights, I asked attendees if they were asked to pay [for quick processing of paperwork]. All of them unanimously said yes. Some people were asked to pay 300 baht while others were asked to pay only 100 baht,” he said.

Written by Khorn Savi
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 11 April 2019
Link: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/border-staff-allegedly-demand-bribes

Border Officials Shake Down Cambodian Migrants Heading Home for the Holidays

Thousands of Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand have flocked to the border along Cambodia’s Banteay Meanchey and Battambang provinces to return home for the Khmer New Year holiday. But many of the migrants say that before being allowed to return to Cambodia, they had to bribe both Thai and Cambodian border police.

The three-day holiday, running from Apr. 14-16, is the most important holiday in the country, and it is customary for Cambodians to return to their hometowns.

“We workers are not educated and we were afraid that we wouldn’t be able to return. We didn’t want any problems, so we just paid the officials,” said migrant worker Heng Chanhieng, in an interview with RFA’s Khmer Service Tuesday.

He said that when he was trying to cross through the border checkpoint in Battambag’s Kamrieng district he was asked to pay the equivalent of $6 to the Thai police and $3 to the Cambodian police, adding that nobody even dared to protest against the officials demanding the unofficial payments.

Another migrant, Lon Samnang, said he believes the Thai and Cambodian officers are in league with each other, colluding to extort the workers during the holiday season. He said that the officials demanded they put away their cellphones while collecting the money because they were afraid their pictures would be taken.

“If we didn’t have any money they would not have allowed us to return [to Cambodia,]” he said.

The migrant said he had to wait five hours before the police would even allow them to leave the border checkpoints.

Neth Phirum, meanwhile said police collected $10 from him during his return trip.

“We got in line and handed them the money,” he said, adding, “Nobody knows where that money went [or what it is for].”

Sok Kun, a Kamrieng immigration police officer denied that either the Thai or Cambodian police were taking bribes. He said the money was given to them voluntarily after the officials helped the migrants cross the border in an organized, timely manner.

“The money was their way of saying thanks,” he said.

The same situation was experienced by workers at the Poipet checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey’s Ou Chrov district.

Keo Soveacha said Wednesday that after he offered to pay a bribe, the Cambodian and Thai police split the proceeds.

“I wanted to speed up the process, so I said ‘I have $13,’” he said.

Dy Thehoya, a program officer for the Phnom Penh-based Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), said he wants the government to stop the yearly extortion of the thousands of migrants returning home.

“We know that thousands of migrants work in Thailand. The government should have a policy to help them get through the border checkpoints faster without having to pay extra money,” he said.

Heang Kimsoeun, a social worker, filed a complaint Thursday to Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Unit, asking them to investigate corruption along the border. The complaint said workers are made to pay $10-$11 to get through border checkpoints. He said that those responsible for the corruption should be brought to justice.

“What are [the police] doing with that money? This is illegal,” he said.

RFA attempted to contact Thai officials for comment. The deputy immigration chief declined to answer any questions, whereas the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received questions but did not reply.

Source: Radio Free Asia
Published on 11 April 2019
Link: https://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/new-year-border-corruption-cambodia-04112019180420.html

[Cambodian] Migrant workers return

More than 20,000 migrant workers have passed through Battambang province’s Daung international border crossing this month to return home for Khmer New Year, while Poipet border officials say workers have yet to return through their checkpoint in large numbers.

Banteay Meanchey provincial Department of Labour director Ros Sarom told The Post on Monday that according to reports from Poipet international checkpoint authorities, migrant workers are likely to flock back from Thailand on Friday and Saturday.

He said the officials reported that this month, only one to two buses per day had crossed the border at Poipet.

“For the last several days, migrant workers have not been regularly crossing back into Cambodia. It is not a steady stream of people. Some days there was one bus with 40 people and some days two buses came through carrying seven, eight or 10 people.”

“Today is only the 8th and, according to the labour law, we haven’t yet reached the day when workers are allowed to have holidays,” Sarom said.

Written by Khorn Savi
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 9 April 2019
Link: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/migrant-workers-return

Thousand of Myanmar workers in Thai return for Thingyan

MYAWADDY- As Thailand’s government designated 25 days off for Thingyan Festival starting on April 5th, thousands of Myanmar workers has been returning through the Mae Sot-Myawaddy route.

Although Thai government allows Myanmar workers for free visa services, they[workers] must go back before April 30th.

More and more Myanmar migrants working across Thailand are now coming back.

Thai labour officials held a meeting with consular officials from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to allow migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to return to their homes as a special privilege for them.

“Thai government launches its 20-day free visa program for foreign workers that will return home. They will need to show PJ Passport and CI documents. Workers holding the blue book being issued by the Thai authorities are allowed to go through Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, Mae Sot-Myawaddy, Mae Sai-Tarchileik, Kawtthaung-Ranoi and Hteekhee-Dawei routes. Thai Immigration Department provided free visa program for foreign workers starting from April 5th to 30th. However, they must come back to Thailand before April 30th. If they did not comply and return to Thailand after April 30th, they must pay 2,000 Baht in fines,” said Moe Gyo, Chairman of Joint Action Committee for Burmese Affairs.

Moe Gyo said that if Myanmar returnee workers will delay going back to their work site, they need to do re-entry stamp for the return.

About 500 to 800 Myanmar are leaving daily as there are few job opportunities and less paid.  There are about 200,000 Myanmar working in eight provinces in Tak Province and about 4 million Myanmar are working in entire Thailand according to those helping migrant workers.

Written by Ko Shwe Thein
Source: Eleven Myanmar
Published on 6 April 2019
Link: https://elevenmyanmar.com/news/thousand-of-myanmar-workers-in-thai-return-for-thingyan

Asean payment connectivity a major step towards cutting transaction costs

Migrant workers, tourists and small and big businesses will be able to cut the cost of their financial transactions in Asean after regulators, bankers and non-bank operators decided to integrate and upgrade their financial services across the region.

Eight Asean countries agreed on Asean Payment Connectivity, which aims to cut transaction fees for migrants, tourists and businesses, during the meeting of Asean Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Chiang Rai Wednesday.

Bank of Thailand (BOT) Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob and Perry Warjiyo, governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) signed the memorandum of understanding on Cooperation in the Area of Payment Systems and Financial Innovation.

Veerathai and Bank of Laos governor Sonexay Sitphaxay also signed an MoU on Cooperation in the Areas of Financial Innovation and Payments Systems.

The MoU targets enhanced collaboration on financial innovations and payment services to promote more efficient and secured domestic and cross-border transactions as well as to promote the use of local currencies.

The two central banks are working together to develop interoperable QR Code for payments and real-time remittance to facilitate cross-border retail payment services between Laos and Thailand.

“Our financial institutions have been collaborating to offer cross-border QR payments to enable easy and convenient payments for Lao and Thai tourists, as well as for SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] in both countries to receive payments in an efficient, convenient way. Progress was also achieved in the area of corporate funds transfers between the two countries using blockchain technology,” said a BOT statement.

Thanachart Bank (TBANK) has already joined the initiative for cross-border QR payment. TBANK has partnered with BCEL (Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public), the largest commercial bank with the biggest market share in electronic banking in Laos, to launch QR payments for Lao tourists visiting Thailand.

“The two banks will officially launch QR payment services for Thai tourists visiting Laos,” said Anuwat Luengtaweekul, executive vice president of TBANK.

The Thai central bank also agreed to cooperate with central banks in Cambodia, Malaysia Myanmar, Philippines and Singapore on financial connectivity.

Banks and non-bank operators in Asean have joined the bandwagon.

“Today, we have witnessed collaboration among banks, non-banks and card companies to develop cross-border payment services using modern technologies, ranging from interoperable QR Code, Blockchain technology, Application Programming Interface [API], and card networks. These new services can serve the needs of different customer segments; improve efficiency of the regional financial system; facilitate business transactions and international trade; reduce the cost of service providers and customers; and enhance financial inclusion for a broad range of Asean population,” said Veerathai.

“The cooperation will cut the cost of exchange-rate risk and streamline financial transactions,” said BOT assistant governor Siritida Panomwon na Ayudhya.

Currently, migrants who send money back to their hometowns face high service fee for remittances. For example, people in Thailand transferring US$500 (Bt16,000) out of the country are charged a $36.40 service fee while the fees in Singapore and Malaysia are $16 and $15.50 respectively, she added.

Among Asean financial institutions, CIMB Group is already providing a cross-border money transfer service. CIMB has introduced the so-called SpeedSend for some years and plans to aggressively expand this market segment this year.

The group’s money transfer service uses API technology. It is an international remittance service offered at affordable fees and attractive rates, the group said. Not only does SpeedSend connect the 10 Asean countries, it also connects Asean with 31 other countries worldwide. This has been achieved through the adoption of API technology and establishment of partnerships and strategic alliances with financial institutions and other money transfer operators.

Currently, the majority of transactions originating at CIMB Thai are money transfers to Philippines.

“Customers will enjoy speedy delivery with our vast network and can collect the money in just minutes. Our large network base and same-day delivery for cash-to-cash service will enable your family and friends to collect money within 10 minutes, with service fee starting at Bt150 per transaction ” said Paisan Thumpothong, executive vice president at CIMB Thai Bank.

U Kyaw Kyaw Maung, governor of Myanmar Central Bank, said migrant Myanmar workers – estimated to number 3 million in Thailand – would benefit from the remittance service provided by Krung Thai Bank and Myanmar-based Shwe Bank.

Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said that Thailand and Singapore will next year link Thai PromptPay and Singapore’s PayNow, which are payment systems that tie bank accounts with mobile phones, allowing customers to use mobile application for financial transactions.

Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 5 April 2019
Link: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/asean-payment-connectivity-major-step-towards-cutting-transaction-costs

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