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Phuket pow wow over illegal alien workers

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: The number of illegal alien workers in Phuket is around 200,000, it was announced at a Senate committee meeting in Phuket on Friday.

About 150 government officers, senators and private-sector representatives met at the Kata Beach Resort on Friday morning to brainstorm better ways to legalize the estimated 1.5 million illegal workers from neighboring countries, especially Burma.

Suvit Meksereekul, who chairs the Senate committee on labor and social welfare issues, said the government needs to develop clear-cut policies that would give alien workers and the people who hire them better long-term employment prospects.

The meeting tacitly accepted that the “nationality verification process” begun last year has been a failure and that human trafficking in Burmese workers continues.

“On the issue of human trafficking, I have heard that some operators buy new pickups on credit to transport the workers in from the border at Ranong. They just abandon the vehicles if they get caught,” he said.

Such practices speak to the scale of the business and the profits involved, he said.

Legal registration of all alien workers was the only real solution to the problem. Achieving this would require more cooperation from employers, he said.

“Right now businesses just see that they lack employees [and continue to hire illegal aliens]. If this continues the number of alien workers entering Thailand will be virtually unlimited. We need to get control of the situation by matching the numbers allowed to enter with the number of workers actually needed,” he said.

Lampang Senator Peera Manatas, who chairs a sub-committee on administrative issues related to registration of workers from Burma, Cambodia and Laos, reiterated that there is no way of knowing with accuracy how many workers from those countries are working in Thailand illegally.

Comprehensive registration would solve this problem, afford basic human rights and medical care for the workers, and put an end to complaints from abroad over such issues, he said.

Checks on workers at important border crossing towns in Chiang Rai, Tak and Ranong revealed that only about 50% of the migrants were registered, he said.

“We need help from the private sector, but employers seem worried that the workers will not stay with them long enough to justify the expense [of registration]. So we are looking for ways for the government to reduce such expenses,” Senator Peera said.

Further complicating the issue were views held by the workers, many of whom fear that registration would cause their families back home to be taxed.

“Also, our process is complicated and expensive for them, especially given the low earnings they make,” he said.

He was referring to the 2,000 baht fee for issuance of a “work permit” for those who undergo the verification process. For the Burmese workers who make up the majority, verification also requires an expensive trip to a “nationality verification center” at a Burmese border checkpoint across from Ranong, Chiang Rai or Tak province.

“As we are trying to solve the problem, today we come to listen to employers, business representatives and representatives from related government agencies including the Labor Department, Interior Ministry, police and the military,” he said.

As for the scheduled deadline for registration on February 28, 2012, the date would probably have to be extended because of the lack of compliance from workers, especially those from Burma, he said.

Although not specifically addressed, a key part of the problem is that many of the “Burmese” workers are not Burmese at all, but rather come from lands controlled by the Burmese junta.

Many, including many tens of thousands of ethnic Mons in Phuket, are effectively stateless – as are their children, many of whom have never known any home apart from Thailand.

Pol Maj Gen Suthep Suksanguan, vice president of the labor and social
welfare committee, estimated there are currently 10,000 children born to [illegal] alien workers living in Thailand.

“We have not given them nationality because their parents came here illegally. More important is the fact that the government of Myanmar doesn’t accept them either, saying they were born in Thailand and thus should be granted Thai nationality,” he said.

At present rates, the numbers of such stateless children living in Thailand could swell to 100,000 in the future, he said.

“What will happen if we have 100,000 [Thai-born] stateless people living here? It will be the same problem that the Rohingyas [stateless people from Western Burma] are now facing,” he said.

Nakorn Silpa-Archa, director-general of the Labor Ministry’s Department of Skill Development, said another reason there are more than million alien workers in Thailand is the fact that Thai employers are quick to hire them over suitably-qualified Thais.

Thai people should be offered jobs first, with jobs going to aliens only if they are really needed, he said.

Labor and social welfare committee spokesperson Suampha Kochakrai said another reason Thailand attracts so many migrant workers is that Thais are leaving their homeland to work abroad.

There are currently some 400,000 to 500,000 Thais working abroad, she said.

— Atchaa Khamlo & S. Fein

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

Phuket

Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s land rights. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has been condemned online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews, after he criticised anti-government protest leader, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Nimit Thian-udom says that, while the SSO’s investment does not break any laws, the board must explain the reasons behind the investment decision and clarify the return on that investment. In addition, he says the SSO should attach more importance to good governance when choosing where to invest.

The call for clarity is echoed by opposition MP Chirayu Huangsap, from the Pheu Thai Party, who calls on the Labour Minister to explain the investment. He adds that any discrepancies will be reported to both the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.

The land rights of the luxury Sri Panwa Phuket resort, which sits on prime land atop Phuket’s Cape Panwa, overlooking the south-eastern tip of the island, are also being called into question. Veera Somkwamkid, from the People’s Network Against Corruption, says he is looking into the property’s land rights and will pass his findings to the Department of Special Investigations.

For his part, the Labour Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built, saying it’s up to the DSI to investigate and that a complaint does not need to be filed in order for them to do so.

Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as anti-government netizens exact their revenge on the proprietor by posting negative feedback on the property.

“Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities | The Thaiger
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3 cities in Thailand recently joined UNESCO’s membership of so called “learning cities” which are said to promote “lifelong learning” and sustainable development. Chachoengsao, Chiang Mai and Phuket joined the UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities. Altogether, 55 cities from 27 countries, adding up to 230 cities in 64 countries around the world, according to UNESCO.

“These cities are outstanding examples of how lifelong learning can become a reality at local level. They have proven that effective lifelong learning policies and practices can support the development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and contribute to the 2030 Agenda.”

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning David Atchoarena says the recent new members have shown that they can make “lifelong learning a reality,” even after enduring the pandemic.

“With unprecedented urgency, the Covid-19-19 pandemic has underlined the necessity to build more resilient education systems for the future. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities must be at the centre of this undertaking.”

David says he hopes it will inspire other cities in Thailand to follow.

“I very much hope that we will see many other cities from Thailand joining the network and working on providing lifelong learning opportunities for all to ensure a sustainable and peaceful future.”

The mayor of Chachoengsao, Kolayuth Chaisang, says his goal is to provide “effective education, thoroughly and equally to all citizens.” According to the Bangkok Post, the city is a key urban centre both economically and culturally.

The mayor of Chiang Mai, Tussanai Buranupakorn, says he wants to revitalise the city, while also maintaining the cultural significance. The city has a number of educational institutes, which goes along with UNESCO’s learning city principles.

Phuket is a hub of sustainable creativity, according to the Bangkok Post. The mayor of Phuket, Somjai Suwansupana, says he wants to preserve the city’s “identity, local wisdom assets and the charm of our multiculturalism.”

SOURCES: UNESCO |Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

A newborn baby was found on a bench at a neighborhood by Phuket’s Patong Road. The baby boy was wrapped in cloth and left inside a reusable shopping bag. The bag also had a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing.

A woman walking by early in the morning heard the baby crying. She followed the cries and found the baby on the bench. She called police and calmed the baby, feeding him milk that was left in the bag.

Police took the baby to the Patong Hospital. The baby, about a week old, is in good health, police say.

“Police and rescue workers together rushed to the scene and called Patong Hospital to have a medical team meet us there … This baby is healthy and does not appear to have suffered any injuries. He is now safe and being cared for at Patong Hospital.”

Police are reviewing surveillance camera footage to see if they can track down the mother, or whoever left the baby behind.

Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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