PHUKET TOWN: About 60 people from the Phuket Construction Association staged a protest yesterday afternoon outside Phuket Provincial Hall in an effort to pressure Governor Charnchai Soontharamut to extend the deadline for registration of foreign workers. Soothichai Pinkate, president of the association, first lodged a complaint that when the police went to construction workers’ camps in Patong on March 17, they not only arrested some 100 illegal workers, but they also destroyed the properties, burning down the camps and stealing money from the workers. “Arrest is okay. But, to destroy our property — that is unacceptable,” said Soothichai. Pol Lt Col Artit Panpitpat of the Phuket Town Police Station, (who together with Security Affairs Chief Nikorn Torhiranyapreuk led the March 17 raids), said, however, that it was “impossible” that the police would have behaved in such a manner. “It could have been that the workers themselves stole each other’s money during the raids,” said Pol Lt Col Artit. There will be no investigation of the association’s complaints. And, according to the governor, the November 30, 1999 deadline remains in place. “I have to follow the central government’s policy. You were given enough time to register your illegal workers with the immigration police, but a lot of you failed to do so,” the governor reminded the protestors. “You must think of the country’s benefit before your own benefit. My policy is to continue arresting these illegal workers, if that’s what you want to know. If anyone needs an extension of time, come talk to me within three days from today. Let me understand what the problems are. “I really don’t like the way you have all tried to flex your muscles today. You are not above the law,” said the governor, his voice raised. In all, members of the Phuket Construction Association employ about 3,000 Burmese workers.
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