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Burmese concert hits bureaucratic barrier



Burmese concert hits bureaucratic barrier | Thaiger

PHUKET CITY: An ambitious plan to stage a concert to bring some fun into the lives of some 30,000 minimum-wage Burmese laborers living in Phuket received a lukewarm reception from Vice-Governor Worapoj Ratthasima yesterday, who said the event would need to be organized in accordance with all provincial regulations imposed on migrant workers – including the controversial 8 pm curfew.

The idea was put to V/Gov Worapoj by Burmese national May Kyawt Shin, who visited his office at Phuket Provincial Hall.

May Kyawt, a Bangkok-based announcer for Radio Thailand’s Burmese-language broadcasts, is also an English-language teacher at Bangkok University and at the Military Language Academy, also in Bangkok.

Concerts featuring well-known Burmese music artists have already been staged without incident in Ranong and Phang Nga, May Kyawt told V/Gov Worapoj.

The event would also be used as an occasion for the Burmese living here to show their deep respect for HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej and to celebrate the recent acceptance by referendum of Thailand’s new Constitution, she added.

With provincial approval, the event would be staged at Saphan Hin in September with the workers each paying a 100-baht admission fee, she explained.

Despite the statements of good intention, V/Gov Worapoj expressed concern over security. He said that Phuket is a tourism province with greater security concerns than the other provinces where concerts have already been held.

He also pointed out that Phuket has many more registered Burmese migrant workers than provinces such as Ranong, where there are only 5,000.

While not ruling out the event outright, V/Gov Worapoj said it would have to be organized on a step-by-step basis and in accordance with all regulations, including the curfew.

As an example, he noted that May Kyawt’s work permit specified radio broadcasting and English teaching – not concert promotion – as the work she could legally do. Thus, he suggested that a local high-ranking military officer be the official organizer.

Other government agencies, such as Phuket’s Muang District Office and the provincial labor office, must also approve the event, he added.

Nattaya Anudit, who heads the Phuket Labor Department office, which oversees the registration of migrant workers from Burma, said that it would be hard to stage the concert by night as Burmese are not allowed to go out after 8 pm unless accompanied by their employer.

The regulation is just one of many imposed on Burmese workers in Phuket and other provinces with large numbers of migrant workers. Other rules forbid Burmese workers riding motorcycles and using mobile phones.

May Kyawt left the meeting saying she would follow the vice-governor’s advice and try to have the event organized in compliance with all related regulations.

Click here for our PGTV report.


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