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Government urged to let in 100,000 migrant workers from Myanmar despite Covid surge




The government in Thailand is being urged by larger Thai multinationals, and the construction and fisheries industry, to let in about 100,000 migrants from Myanmar, despite a recent surge in Covid-19 infections inside the kingdom. Officials say they will comply with the demands to let the migrant workers in, however, they will regulate their arrivals.

Suebsakun Kidnukorn, an academic with the Mae Fa Luang University’s School of Social Innovation in Chiang Rai says there are about 24,000 registered migrant workers in the city, excluding children, the elderly and undocumented workers.

Suebsakun says migrant workers have played an important part in developing Chiang Rai’s economy, adding that many are now having a hard time crossing the border due to Covid-19 restrictions. As a result, many workers are left stranded along the border, causing the civil sector to step in to help stranded Burmese and Thai migrant workers on both sides.

Adisorn Koetmongkol, the coordinator of the Migrant Working Group, says because the government has not allowed migrants workers who returned home, to re-enter Thailand, many of the migrants are sneaking in illegally and avoiding mandatory quarantines. The problem being that Myanmar currently has greater Covid challenges, with many workers remaining jobless.

This illegal crossing of the Thai/Myanmar border has been attributed to Thailand’s recent surge in local Covid cases, including the most recent reports of over 570 new cases in just 1 day in the fishing province of Samut Sakhon.

Adisorn says if the government allows them to return in regulated numbers, with all being subjected to testing, quarantine and treatment facilities, it would solve a number of issues. Adisorn says the kingdom’s healthcare system for migrant workers was fairly good and it is important to find the source of the new infections reported.

Samut Sakhon is famous for its seafood industry and hosts a large number of migrant workers. Adisorn says the seafood business will be impacted by the surge in Covid infections.

Such a high amount of daily cases is the largest reported in Thailand since the pandemic began and has been attributed to the issue surrounding migrant workers sneaking in undetected in places such as Chiang Rai. So far, Thais and Burmese alike have been arrested for illegally entering, causing the Covid pandemic to strike again. Such areas as Bangkok, which are close to Samut Sakhon, have been advised to be on high alert and to prepare for another spread of infections.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar

    Issan John

    Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    What “issues” would it “solve”?

    100,000 seems an excessive amount , although most would possibly be working in the fishing industry since the “Migrant Working Group” is an NGO that concentrates on that particular sector.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    They will let them in.
    Despite all this fake concern about the virus, profits means more to Thailand’s rich than the peasants’ health.
    And even then they will keep all the powers of an emergency. They will not lose them.

  3. Avatar


    Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Millions of Thais are jobless after the pandemic but Thailand is being “urged” (by whom?) to let in migrant workers during a pandemic, thereby risking the lives of Thai citizens. What is Myanmar doing to help its people? Why does Thailand have to pick up the slack Myanmar?

    • Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 1:37 pm

      The Thais will not work for the money these migrant workers work for.
      If Thailand cares about keeping the suppose infection out, bam migrants and make Thais do the work, by no hand-outs for Thais.

      • Avatar


        Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 3:30 pm

        Stupid is as stupid does. Big money runs this country not the so called government

      • Avatar


        Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 8:58 pm

        Thai are to lazy to work…They could do the jobs…But they just don’t want….

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 1:42 pm

      The Migrant Working Group is an NGO, mainly concerned with immigrant rights in the fishing sector; to be fair, I doubt many of the “millions of Thais” who are “jobless after the pandemic” would be keen to take over their jobs.

      • Avatar

        albert zweistein

        Monday, December 21, 2020 at 5:56 am

        You are right, they are not keen to take over the jobs.

      • Avatar

        J West

        Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 2:31 pm

        Same argument used by illegal immigrant rights advocates in the USA and EU. ” Locals won’t do those jobs”. That’s an excuse to keep wages low. Raise wages to meet a minimum standard is the answer. Thais would be happy to work for a living wage as has been found to be the case in America and EU. Let Thailand control it’s immigration based on equity for it’s citizens. As America doesn’t owe Mexico a living, neither does Thailand owe Myanmar a free ride.

    • Avatar

      John Brown

      Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 2:32 pm

      In principle I agree with you that Thailand should not have to pick up Myanmar’s slack (and with the implicit point that both this article and the BP article it is based on are poorly written*).

      In practice, this will be impossible to achieve, save for securing the entire border perimeter with drone patrols, trenches, barbed wire, and – no joke – landmines. People are crossing to flee lethal illness and death so it would take an even greater level of risk to deter them. We are already at war with a virus; let’s not escalate to war conditions with each other too.

      We need to get over ideas of fairness, and make policy decisions based on an understanding of causality. A correctly-implemented and rigorous border quarantine systems that is *accessible* to incoming migrants, complemented by heavy punishments for illegal crossings (including for their Thai employers), would do much to solve the problem.

      * To answer the question: urged by a “social innovation” academic and a migrant lobbying group (this key detail is buried unacceptably in my opinion).

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 3:35 pm

        Ditto, John B. The BP article didn’t say so explicitly, but until I checked I assumed that the “Migrant Working Group” was a government body, not an NGO.

        Difficult to know how a quarantine system can work that’s both effective and economically viable for both returnees and migrants alike, though, and I note that Cambodia have now made a 14 day quarantine mandatory for all.

        • Avatar

          John Brown

          Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 7:36 pm

          That is excellent news about Cambodia – I had all but given up.

          Regarding economic viability: we have the money. We really do. Our hands are tied in ways that most western nations aren’t due to foreign reserve issues and IMF restrictions (the US Fed and ECB can “create stimulus” much more easily), but we don’t even need those restrictions loosened (though it probably wouldn’t hurt). Back of napkin estimates show that we can definitely finance this with budgetary reallocations and failing that market bonds. For example, it would cost less than 10 billion to subsidize the bottom quartile through a full scientific lockdown – a tiny fraction compared to the value of the economic recovery that would induce. Keeping a free and welcoming border quarantine system running is peanut money comparatively.

          Efficiency, admittedly, is something of a harder a problem, given the local economic incentives for administrators to defect. The NZ govt solved quarantine issues by bringing in their military to handle enforcement, but we would face challenges (to put it mildly) if we were to simply try to replicate that. A better solution must be found; perhaps locals, who rely more heavily on social reputation and are motivated by their communities’ safety, could be educated to have a larger role (and be adequately compensated).

    • Avatar


      Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 9:30 pm

      Because Thai don’t want to do the work, they are to lazy….

  4. Avatar


    Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    99.99 survival rate except for those over 60 yrs old. Lock the old people inside. Let life go on for the rest of us plebs. Lockdowns will cause far more destruction to peoples health.

  5. Avatar

    Mister Stretch

    Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    Larger Thai multinationals don’t give a **** for the Thais themselves.

    They only want to keep that money rollin’ in.

    The “big boys” who make these requests are safe behind compound walls with lowly servants to disinfect their every little thing.

    If these companies want them in…then pay for 14-day ASQ like every other foreigner has to endure.

    • Avatar

      John Brown

      Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 7:40 pm

      The last sentence of this comment should be added to the article. Or even the headline.

      “Government urged to force employers of 100,000 incoming Burmese migrant workers to fund their 14 day quarantines”

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Monday, December 21, 2020 at 2:12 pm

        Agreed 100%, John Brown – I know it may appear otherwise sometimes, but we’re far more in heated agreement than we are in disagreement.

        FWIW I also agree with you 100% that Thailand can afford the current loss in tourism revenue far better than much of the West can afford the losses they’re suffering and the debts they’re running up – the loss of tourist dollars have to be balanced against export losses due to a drop in production if Covid took hold as it has in the West, with Western lockdowns, as well as the cost in education, socially, and for medical cover, and so many here are simply ignoring the balance and denying the reality that there would be losses as a consequence.

        FWIW, also, I don’t think you should stop at employers just funding migrants’ 14 day quarantines.

        I’d suggest any found to have been employing migrants illegally should not just be fined (400,000 baht per head is the going rate in the UK) but if their employees are found to have Covid they should be made to pay for their tests and their treatment, as well as for the tests and treatment of anyone they contacted and infected and for their missed salaries while they’re quarantined and off work as a result.

        Why should Thailand have to pay?

  6. Avatar


    Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    Locking out and in the Burmese just delayed the spread but now it’s here.

  7. Avatar


    Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 9:05 am

    we would like to hear Thun that a Mianmar brought the Virus and Not a Westener or a Falang!

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