Connect with us

Crime

Migrants seek to return to Thailand after lockdown

Jack Burton

Published 

 on 

Migrants seek to return to Thailand after lockdown | Thaiger
PHOTO: 77kaoded

With the introduction of Phase 6 of easing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, businesses have reopened and begun hiring, but migrant workers, who went home and waited for outbreak to end, now find themselves on the outside looking in, unable to reenter the kingdom and get back to work. The prospects for their return don’t look good despite soaring demand to revive the understaffed construction and fishing sectors, mostly jobs that Thais don’t want to do.

Thailand has yet to reopen its borders, and the Immigration Bureau is stepping up efforts to curb illegal crossings to lessen the risk of infections from neighbouring countries. The IB’s commissioner says surveillance is being increased in every border province, especially adjacent to Cambodia, to curb illegal entry of migrant workers.

Many migrant workers left the country when it went into lockdown in March. International labour NGOs estimate that about 50,000 Burmese and 30,000 Cambodian workers returned home. The number of migrant workers in Thailand, with or without work permits, was at 2.7 million before the outbreak. In recent weeks, migrant workers sneaking across the border, many seeking a return to work, have been intercepted by police.

“The Thai-Cambodian border is seeing increased smuggling activities after the construction and fishing industries started recruiting. Police and security forces are paying extra attention to this side of the border.”

Border authorities have arrested hundreds of illegal migrant workers every month since April. The largest number came from Cambodia (400-500), followed by Myanmar (200-300) and Laos (70-80).

The IB is working closely with other government agencies, as it doesn’t have adequate resources to support crackdown operations and border busts. The army, border patrol police, marine police and local officials have all been roped in.

Authorities say migrant workers nabbed recently voluntarily paid people smugglers to help them, and insist that none were victims of human trafficking. The smugglers are usually Thais or foreigners who know the terrain, and migrants are moved to the kingdom’s central provinces for transit before being dropped off at their final destinations.

“Despite the rough terrain, they can come in by foot. So most of them cross the border on foot via natural channels. If they don’t know where to get hired, they hire a driver. It’s like taking a taxi.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Keep in contact with Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Never miss out on future posts by following Thaiger.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Opinion

Tourism developments threaten Cambodia’s forests and coastline

Thaiger

Published

on

By

Tourism developments threaten Cambodia’s forests and coastline | Thaiger
Chinese developer Yeejia has cleared large areas of once-forested land in Cambodia’s Ream National Park for its tourist resorts / Photo by Roun Ry for China Dialogue

The following story is by Danielle Keeton Olsen and Roun Ry for China Dialogue, a nonprofit focused on environmental news related to China and Asia.

“Before when we wanted to eat, we just went and caught some fish, but now it’s nothing like before, as all the natural resources have disappeared,” says 68 year old Sen Chantha who lives in a coastal hamlet within Ream National Park in southwest Cambodia. His house faces the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

The mangrove forests, wetlands and rocky coasts that supported abundant wildlife in the park have also attracted opportunistic developers. Cambodia’s government has granted development rights for mass tourism resorts leading to deforestation and the drainage of ecologically vital mangroves.

“On the way out, you will see many big trucks clearing land all over the place… They’ve started clearing about four kilometres away, and they’ll probably come here,” says Chantha, who has lived in Prek Trabek village since the early 1990s. As forest cover has disappeared, Chantha has become a campaigner, keen to defend his community against a Chinese developer backed by the Cambodian elite.

Rights threatened

Chantha’s family is one of more than 100 in his village engaged in a years-old conflict over land with the Chinese company Yeejia Tourism Development, whose concession surrounds their homes. The company has allowed them to remain in the area, but severely restricted their space to live and work.

55 year old Choeun Trop says Yeejia has taken part of her land and stopped her from collecting rattan from the forest.

Over the past 2 or 3 years, officials from the company have monitored her community tightly, at one point requiring members to carry identification cards and barring outside visitors, she says.

Trop’s son, then 16, is now in jail after joining a protest against Yeejia during which some protestors dismantled a guardhouse at the entrance to the company’s concession.

“We’re poor. It’s been very difficult, and we couldn’t ask anyone to help,” she says. She tried to enlist the support of 2 Cambodian human rights organisations, but both told her they could not intervene. “I cry and cry, and if I cry too much, I’m afraid I will faint again, and no one will take care of my son. My son cries because the situation inside the prison is terrible, and he has a very small space to sleep.”

Forests and wetlands

Ream National Park covers 34,000 hectares of diverse landscapes that include the Prek Toek Sap estuary, low-lying mountains, miles of mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs and parts of two islands.

General forests cover 55% of the land, while mangroves take about 7%. A vital ecosystem for biodiversity, mangroves support many plants, fish and crustaceans, and the fisheries they nurture feed local people.

Elsewhere in the park, remote areas of dry forest, covering 13%, could still conceal one of the last populations of rare wild cattle known as kouprey, according to a 2006 report by University of Copenhagen ecologist Robert Schmidt.

When Ream was established in 1995, it faced significant levels of commercial logging and fishing – at least one-third of its area had already been heavily changed as a result of resource extraction.

Finding ways to stop this was one of the new park’s main concerns, and international organisations, including the Asia Development Bank and the United Nations, were deployed to help find solutions.

Internationally funded projects concentrated on developing a management plan for the park and on training park rangers. Opening the park’s headquarters in late 1998, the then-environment minister, Mok Mareth, promised Ream would be a “role model” for protected areas in the country.

But although the funded projects did manage to end commercial resource extraction, illegal logging and fishing continued to flourish, with corrupt police, navy officers and fishermen combining forces to plunder the park. Then, when international funding ended in 2000, the park was left with very little financial support.

Several reports at the time recommended ecotourism as a way to fund the park. In one from the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia, published in 2001, academic Thanakvaro Thyl de Lopez outlined a “dream park” scenario, in which revenue would be generated through nature-driven tourism, allowing local people living inside the park to continue using its resources in a sustainable way.

But the report warned that this scenario would require the support of international donors, at a time when their programmes had not been renewed due to “lack of interest”.

Developers descend

With the promise of sustainable tourism starting to fade, commercial tourism stepped in.

In June 2008, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed decrees granting concessions to two companies – Yeejia, and Evergreen Success & Asia Resort Development.

Yeejia was given rights over 3,300 hectares of the park, an area they named Golden Silver Bay. When reporters visited the concession in January 2021, they found around a dozen half-built hotel-sized structures, most flanked by Cambodian guards. Outside one of them, a sign reads Qin Yue Ream National Coast in both Khmer and Chinese characters. Further in, patches of newly-paved road led to clearings where rows of identical off-white cottages stood out against the raw, red earth. Another road opened out onto a fresh construction site, where excavators were levelling a hillside, the roots of the remaining trees dangling over the manmade cliffs.

The other company, Evergreen Success & Asia Resort Development, was given a concession of 2,377 hectares.

Evergreen Success is tied to Hun To, a nephew of the prime minister, who has been investigated by the Australian authorities in connection with drug smuggling and money laundering. According to a 2012 report in The Age newspaper, To was of interest to Operation Illipango, an Australian investigation into heroin concealed in Cambodian timber shipments. Plans to arrest To were derailed when the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh cancelled his travel visa.

Powerful connections

To has since become a co-director of the Lixin Group, a Taiwanese construction and property company that has already developed a hotel in Sihanoukville under the US-based brand Wyndham.

Lixin is heavily promoting its “New City” development in Ream National Park. An advertisement on the resort’s WeChat channel from September emphasised the eco-tourism side of the project. But plans for the resort include massive developments inside the park, from a golf resort and a horse racing track to casinos and hotels, all flanked by mangroves.

Yeejia’s rise in Cambodia has also depended on elite contacts. Company chair Fu Xianting’s resumé includes time in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and then in state-owned companies, one of which brought him to Cambodia for a conference on agricultural machinery and light manufacturing.

According to a 2016 Financial Times investigation, Cambodia’s Council of Ministers revoked Fu’s concession in Ream after concerns about forest clearance from environmental groups. But Fu, who has close personal ties to Hun Sen, met with the Cambodian leader and obtained his support for continued development.

Yeejia’s development plans for Golden Silver Bay range from casinos and luxury hotels to a conference centre and medical rehabilitation facilities. Its WeChat social media presence shows it is advertising to Chinese developers seeking a slice of Cambodia, as well as to tourists. In November, Yeejia held a small ground-breaking ceremony with Zhonghai Tianhong Real Estate (Cambodia), which has leased 4 hectares of land from the developer on a 99-year lease – the same timespan as Yeejia’s 2008 concession within the park. This is despite the fact that, according to Cambodian law, concessions cannot be sold to another company without a new contract being drawn up with the government.

Neither Yeejia nor Lixin would respond to requests for comment from China Dialogue.

Ongoing destruction

Beyond the bulldozers currently clearing land in the name of tourism, illegal logging for timber has continued in Ream. Chantha, the community activist, says the state-employed park rangers conduct frequent patrols, but will release loggers who pay them. Chantha has accompanied the patrols and claims to have witnessed bribe-taking.

According to the 2001 de Lopez report, about half of rural households inside the park engaged in illegal logging in the past. Chantha and other villagers admit to cutting trees for their own use before Yeejia officials stopped them.

But things are different now. “The Ministry of Environment officials blame the community for deforestation, but it’s not us,” he says. “It’s someone outside and hired by some oknha (tycoons) or rich businessman to come clear land here.”

Meanwhile, the coast of Ream and the rest of Preah Sihanouk province is also under threat. Ouk Vibol, director of conservation in Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration, says overfishing is a significant challenge, with trawlers scooping up whatever fish they can find, destroying seagrass beds in the process. The loss of mangroves due to the park’s tourism developments is also having a big impact on fish stocks, says Ouk.

“If you destroy one habitat, there are real negative impacts on the species that move from one habitat to another.”

Just outside the national park, a little-known Chinese–Cambodian company, Canopy Sands Development, has undertaken a massive coastal reclamation project on 427 hectares granted by the Cambodian government. The company was formed one month before it received the land. Its shareholders also chair powerful companies in Cambodia, including Prince Group, whose China-born director, Chen Zhi, has obtained Cambodian citizenship through his investments.

This and other developments along the coast, which once boasted waters teeming with lucrative squid, crab and fish, have changed local fishers’ lives.

Docking just north of the Canopy Sands development, 27 year old Chan Ra says he has to be very careful where he drops his fishing lines. The traditional gear he uses to catch squid is made with large shells strung out along a line. The squid nestle into the shells for shelter without the need for bait. The shells are durable but expensive and are often damaged by the sand-dredging boats filling the Canopy Sands area, says Ra. There are still some squid to be found close to the shore, but the fisher says he has to travel further to catch crabs.

Ra lives mostly on his boat these days, because another company has been reclaiming land from the sea on the bay where he used to live. “Before we could reach home by boat, but now they’re filling it with land,” he says.

Ra has had to move three times due to development projects. Like many local people, he built a home without procuring an official land title – a requirement that was seldom enforced until land prices began to climb.

Nowhere is safe

32 year old Nam Then runs a small shop selling sundries on a hillside a couple of kilometres from the entrance to Yeejia’s concession. He has not been directly impacted by the long-running dispute between local people and the Chinese company, whose concession overlaps their customary land. But he shares his neighbours’ concerns and attends meetings about the issue at the Ream commune office.

“We share information around the community,” he says. “We are the same people who have the same affections. I am also living in one part of the community, just in a different area.”

In June last year, the government finally allocated land and promised titles to the three communities in the park affected by Yeejia’s concession. Details have yet to be worked out, however. Then keeps a plastic folder full of documents showing the outlines of plots. Some families are missing out, he says, but he and others are watching the process closely.

Then moved to his current home and shop in 2007 after Ream Naval Academy – part of a military branch that is caught up in controversies over Chinese versus US access – decided to expand into the land near where his family lived.

“Looking back at 2007, we didn’t have anything, the people were weak, information systems didn’t exist, and we were living in a military zone, so when you’re trying to protest, there was big pressure (on us),” he says.

The family’s current home is on the other side of the same mountain. They have remained relatively undisturbed since they moved, but, on a morning in late January, Then told reporters that much of the land facing his house had been cleared. He was not sure what for. When reporters passed his house again at dusk, a digger was forging a new road around the mountain, leading back to the naval academy.

When he first moved in, Then recalls: “It was all forest, huge forest, there wasn’t any road yet.” Now, for the villagers of Ream “it’s very difficult, because the houses are all on company land.”

Keep in contact with Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Never miss out on future posts by following Thaiger.

Continue Reading

Crime

Cambodian dog slaughterhouse shut down, owner says he is “ashamed”

Avatar

Published

on

Cambodian dog slaughterhouse shut down, owner says he is “ashamed” | Thaiger

After increasing calls to end the dog meat trade, a Cambodian slaughterhouse is shutting down, with its owner saying he is “ashamed.” Ouk Mol, the owner, says the dog slaughterhouse has killed more than a million dogs since opening in 1995.

According to Four Paws animal rights group, Cambodia slaughters between 2 to 3 million dogs per year, while offering the cheap meal of protein at more than 100 dog meat restaurants in Phnom Penh, its capital.

Mol’s slaughterhouse is responsible for all the supply to Phnom Penh, but he says he will no longer be killing dogs, citing increasing pressure from animal rights groups and civilians alike. The 50 year old former soldier says he feels ashamed.

“But I want to quit the business because I am getting old and a lot of people have criticised me about the dog meat trade.”

The operator was offered financial support from Four Paws to open a grocery store if they shut down their slaughterhouse with Ouk Mol’s wife, Sao Phally, saying she is glad they have found a way out of the business.

“We were always worried about sin because of our killing. People looked at us in a bad way.”

The slaughterhouse, which uses vats to drown the dogs, and blowtorches to remove their fur, slaughtered up to 200 dogs per day. Now, as of yesterday, the company has shut down, with the remainder of dogs being sent to animal charities for rehabilitation and placed for international adoption.

Phnom Penh is the 2nd city in Cambodia to follow increasing calls to close the dog meat trade, as Siem Reap banned the trade last year in a victory for animal rights groups. Until 2020, Siem Reap, Cambodia’s largest tourist city, was known by rights groups as the “lynchpin” of the trade.

Despite Cambodia’s efforts to begin closing down its dog meat trade, it is not the only Asian country that features dog meat as a cuisine. Consuming dog meat in Vietnam is more popular than in Cambodia, which shows the industry has a long way to go with regards to respecting animal rights.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

Keep in contact with Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Never miss out on future posts by following Thaiger.

Continue Reading

Thailand

Migrant workers risk losing their legal status, the Cabinet to extend work permit amnesty

Avatar

Published

on

By

Migrant workers risk losing their legal status, the Cabinet to extend work permit amnesty | Thaiger
PHOTO: Frontier Myanmar

Over 1.7 million migrant workers in Thailand are going to lose their legal working status because they can’t submit work permit renewal and a health certificate with Covid-19 test results in time. The Labour Ministry then proposes the cabinet will extend the registration period (amnesty) for migrant workers to help maintain their legal status. Migrant workers, including those illegal and unemployed workers, are required to register with authorities via the ministry’s website from January 15 until February 13.

According to the Labour Minister, every migrant worker to renew their work permit must receive a Covid-19 test at hospitals designated by the Public Health Ministry. The Department of Medical Sciences will be responsible for the testing costs.

Illegal and unemployed workers, who registered with the Ministry, will be allowed to stay in the Kingdom for 2 years without penalties. Only those migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar are allowed to overstay their current visas, but are required to register with the provincial employment office in the area they work, as part of the amnesty.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Keep in contact with Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Never miss out on future posts by following Thaiger.

Continue Reading
Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger
Chiang Mai6 hours ago

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Thailand News Today | Bangkok nightspot Covid clusters, Tesco/CP merger goes to court | April 5 | Thaiger
Thailand5 days ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok nightspot Covid clusters, Tesco/CP merger goes to court | April 5

10 rebel groups in Myanmar throw their support behind anti-coup protesters | VIDEO | Thaiger
Myanmar6 days ago

10 rebel groups in Myanmar throw their support behind anti-coup protesters | VIDEO

Firefighters’ bodies retrieved, 100,000 baht to families | Thaiger
Hot News6 days ago

Firefighters’ bodies retrieved, 100,000 baht to families

Thai Airways cuts another 4,250 staff, offering them early retirement | Thaiger
Transport8 hours ago

Thai Airways cuts another 4,250 staff, offering them early retirement

Immigration police arrest Frenchman on drug charges, 3 other foreigners for overstay | Thaiger
Crime2 days ago

Immigration police arrest Frenchman on drug charges, 3 other foreigners for overstay

Weekend party event in Phuket reports positive Covid attendee | Thaiger
Events4 days ago

Weekend party event in Phuket reports positive Covid attendee

Labour union angry over changes to Thai Airways staff contracts under rehab plan | Thaiger
Business4 days ago

Labour union angry over changes to Thai Airways staff contracts under rehab plan

Nightlife shut down in 3 Bangkok districts following rise in Covid numbers | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 days ago

Nightlife shut down in 3 Bangkok districts following rise in Covid numbers

Some Bangkok international schools close following rise of Covid-19 cases in the area | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 days ago

Some Bangkok international schools close following rise of Covid-19 cases in the area

CCSA Update: 194 new Covid-19 cases, outbreak at Narathiwat prison | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 days ago

CCSA Update: 194 new Covid-19 cases, outbreak at Narathiwat prison

Thailand allows entry to 11 groups of travellers, cuts quarantine down for those vaccinated | Thaiger
Thailand5 days ago

Thailand allows entry to 11 groups of travellers, cuts quarantine down for those vaccinated

Leading Thai virologist warns of third wave, says herd immunity will take 2 years at current vaccination rate | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 days ago

Leading Thai virologist warns of third wave, says herd immunity will take 2 years at current vaccination rate

Bangkok prepares to open field hospital as officials warn of a rapid rise in infections | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 days ago

Bangkok prepares to open field hospital as officials warn of a rapid rise in infections

Thai Health Minister pictured without mask, sitting next to infected Transport Minister | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 days ago

Thai Health Minister pictured without mask, sitting next to infected Transport Minister

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4 | Thaiger
Thailand1 month ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO | Thaiger
Tourism1 month ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2 | Thaiger
Phuket1 month ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO | Thaiger
Tourism2 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23 | Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO | Thaiger
Tourism2 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Follow Thaiger by email:

Trending