Rohingya “help-on’ policy announced in Phuket

PHUKET: Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan explained to the press in Phuket that Thailand would be proceeding with a clear ‘help-on’ policy when dealing with Rohingya and Bangladeshi entering the country.

“We will never push away these people. However, if they do land in Thailand they will have to face the same laws that apply to anyone illegally entering the country,” Gen Prawit said, following a closed-door meeting with Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy Admiral Kraisorn Chansuvanich, Royal Thai Police Commissioner Gen Somyot Poompanmoung, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command Vice Admiral Sayan Prasongsamrej and other high-ranking officials.

“What we will do is provide them with the basic necessities, such as food, water and medicine, so they can continue on their journey – their final destination, which is not Thailand. “We will even help the fix their boat engines, if that is what they need.”

Gen Prawit vehemently denied that the ‘help-on’ policy was simply pushing them away.

“How can they say we push them away? This is wrong – we are both being humane and following the laws of Thailand. Basic human rights and needs are essential,” Gen Prawit said.

In an exclusive interview with the Gazette following the meeting, V/Adm Sayan explained that his understanding, in accordance with Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, was that Rohingya would not be treated as asylum seekers.

“We have no permanent shelters for Rohingya in Thailand. What we currently have are places they are being held as due process is carried out in the legal system,” V/Adm Sayan said. “There is such a large number of them, and we cannot simply accept them all.

“However, we are doing our best to help them. For example, more than 300 Rohingya were left adrift in a boat with a broken engine recently, and we found them, provided them with food, water, medicine and fixed their boat [story here].”

V/Adm pointed out that Thailand wasn’t alone in facing this type of situation and insisted that media coverage was essential for providing transparency.

“It is important for the media to show what Thailand is doing and how our actions are humane. We are helping them,” he said.

“Other countries seem to want to blame Thailand for the choices it is making, but Italy and other countries around the world face the same issues – there are many problems with migrant people wanting to enter the European Union, but being denied.

“The key is not to place blame, but to search for a solution.”

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

Phuket News
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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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