Ty Kraichok Thailand and Southeast Asia (Period 7) Is Thai Government doing enough to help Burmese Migrant Workers One Burmese worker in Thailand, who is about 24 years old, described his work at awool company by mentioned that he had to work from 8am to 9pm every day and sometimeuntil midnight, but he did not receive any extra payments. He also mentioned that he needed tostay in a hall, which roughly measured about 30 feet by 10 feet, with 30 other men sleepingside by side. Based on all the harsh treatments that he had while he was working for the woolcompany in Thailand, he only earns 3,000 baht a month (Thailand) There are over 1.5 million Burmese in Thailand but only over 600,000 Burmesemigrant workers are living legally in the country. Burmese workers migrated to Thailand inhope that they will receive a better treatments and lifestyle that they would in Burma. SinceThailand has continuingly developed towards becoming more industrialized, there is anincrease in jobs that require people who are willing to work in dirty, dangerous anddemanding professions. However, Thai workers refuse to do those tough jobs that theindustrial companies offer, this allows Burmese migrant workers to filled the employmentshortage (Thailand). Though Thai employers choose to hired Burmese migrant workers, theyregularly treated the workers unfairly. Burmese migrant workers constantly suffer from humanrights abuse and unfair treatments from both the employers and the government authorities(“Illegal Myanmar Workers…”) Although the Thai government has taken some actions tohelp the Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, not only is the Thai government not takingappropriate action towards Burmese workers in Thailand, such as providing work permits, butBurmese workers in Thailandare also treated unfairly and suffer from abuse of their humanrights.
Supporters of Thai government declare that even though many blame the governmentbased on their lack of supports toward Burmese migrant workers‟ community, the Thaigovernment is taking some positive action in order to improve Burmese migrant workers‟ lifequality. Thai government is concern that Burmese migrant workers‟ children do not receive aproper education. In order to provide the workers‟ children a proper education, Thaigovernment‟s significant effort has shown through the government project in the NorthernProvince of Tak in Thailand, where Thai ministry of education has offered 45 schools with6221 children in the Burmese Migrant Workers Education Committee (BMWEC). Theproject greatly benefits the workers and their children in education due to their legal andfinancial issues, since there is no requirement on work permit in the registration processes(Main Library Education). Moreover, the Thai government also tries to encourage Burmesemigrant workers to get work permit, which will make them gain more rights in the country.The government guarantees that once Burmese migrant workers completed the work permitsprocesses successfully, they will receive the same rights as Thai workers and social basicwelfare in addition. Thai government also expands the workers‟ jobs limitation, which ispositive change for all of them. Before, Burmese migrant workers were only has two joboptions, which are household servant or working in the construction field. Now, Burmesemigrant workers who have work permit have more jobs opportunities since the governmentexpands Burmese migrant workers‟ job limitations by allowiing them to work in agriculture,fisheries, some sections in factory and domestic services businesses (Sujan). In addition, theThai government also shows their supports in Burmese migrant workers‟ health conditions byproviding Burmese migrant workers the access to the government health care scheme called“30 baht scheme”, where people can receive medical care for 30 baht per visit (Thailand).The 30 baht scheme program majorly benefits Burmese migrant workers since people at any
age can get their health examination or any public health services facility for only 30 baht,which is beneficial for both financial and health reasons (Thailand). Therefore, by buildingschools, giving out work permits, and providing public health care access, Thai governmenthas shown significant effort in trying to improve and support the Burmese migrant workers‟community. However, while Thai government has shown their urge to help Burmese migrantworkers through their positive actions, yet the actions has not yet enough. The effort thatmade by the government affected the Burmese migrant workers in a negative way rather thanin positive way. Burmese migrant workers have a difficult time to participate in thegovernment education program due to the extra cost associated with education, for example,school uniforms and text books (Burmese Migrant Children). Language difficulty is alsoanother problem that the workers need to face because most of Burmese children do notknow how to speak Thai, which makes it complicated for them to learn in governmenteducation support program (Burmese Migrant Children). With regard to the work permits,many Burmese migrant workers do not fully understand how the information that theyprovided will be used and the rights that they will receive (Thailand). Burmese migrantworkers also admitted that the cost of work permit registration is the main problem thatprevents them to register for work permit. Burmese migrant workers need to pay 1,900 bahtfor health examination that required in the registration of work permit processes and alsoadditional 100 baht for application fee and another 1,800 baht for work permit fee valid forone year. Cost of the work permit registration worries the Burmese migrant workers sincethey almost have nothing to eat due to the low wages that they receive each month. ABurmese worker mentioned that “I heard about the registration- I want to do this but I haveno cash, hardly enough to eat. I can‟t decide if I should stay here. Even if we want to returnhome we have no money. We are just staying on- there is no future” (Thailand). Burmese
migrant workers are also unsatisfied with public health services program that the governmentprovides because they believe that they do not receive proper treatments for their healthconditions and also experience discrimination by Thai public health workers. A 37 years old,Kayah woman, who has an experience in the 30 baht scheme program mentioned: “Myhusband has a kidney problem-from carrying heavy materials at work- he went to 30 bahtprogram but it is as helpful as private hospital. He screamed and suffered a lot. He eventuallywent to a Chinese herbal medical doctor, which was very expensive” (Thailand). This caseshows an ineffective public health system that the government provides to assist Burmesemigrant workers that do not help Burmese migrant workers to suffer less from illness anddiseases. Hence, it is justify to say that the supporting programs that Thai governmentprovides in order to help Burmese migrant workers are not effective enough due to thedifficulties of getting education, complex work permits system and poor public health care. Although Burmese migrant workers believe that the government could do better interms of improving the Burmese migrant workers‟ community in Thailand, but Burmesemigrant workers tend to feel more secure when they live in Thailand than when they live inBurma. In Burma, people are force to join the military labor force that makes people do manydifferent tasks without getting paid. The workers mostly described their working conditionsat the army labor forces as a slave-like condition (Snodgrass).The Burmese army also takesover people‟s traditional lands and migrate people, regardless on the ages, into the detentioncentre, which people are distributed to do different jobs, for example, working in theconstruction filed, working in the gem mine and some section in domestic services(Thailand). This shows how Burmese are manipulated and are forced into labour day andnight by the government. For the past 40 years under the current government power, peoplehave been treated very cruelly, which makes Thailand is a much better place to live in(Cropley). A Shan described his live in Burma by mentioned that he decided to left Burma
because he was suppressed by the government authorities and his brother was killed and hissister was sexually abused then murdered by the Burmese police (Thailand). In addition, oneof the Burmese migrant workers said that although he has dilemmas living in Thailand, it ismuch better because at least there is a career where he can earn money and work(Cropley).Since there are many conflict going on in Burma for the past several decades, forexample, civil conflicts and economic mismanagement. One Burmese migrant worker statedthat “Thailand is better. If I could become a citizen I would. In Burma I‟m panicked all day,every night I dreamed of Misery Number 1, Misery Number 2” (Thailand). He also describedthe harsh living condition in Burma, which mainly due to the military dictatorship. A lot ofmigrant workers have left Burma for various reasons, including forced labour,abuse by themilitary, and lack of job opportunities. Even though Burmese migrant workers feel more secure in Thailand than in Burmabut the Burmese workers in Thailand do not receive equal rights or treated fairly like otherThai workers. The Burmese have poor working conditions, longer working hours, and do notreceive the minimum wage according to Thai law. Burmese migrant worker normally face anunhealthy working conditions, which most of the time dirty and unsafe. One of the workers ina knitting factory said that many women fainted from the heat when they are working due tothe work cite‟s temperature. Also, the Burmese workersnormally do not get enough time torest, which always made them exhausted and ill (Cropley). In addition, Burmese workersneed to work for more than 14 hours a day but do not receive an extra payment (BurmeseMigrant Worker). A 24yearold man from Yangon said that he worked from 8 am to 9 pmwithout any overtime pay (Thailand). Burmese workers in Thailand suffer from poor wages,most workers receiving only half of the minimum wage. On average, they are paid 70 baht aday working for 10 hours, while the minimum wage in Thailand ranges from 133 baht to 169baht a day (Burmese Migrant Worker). A man from Yangon said that his earnings varies
from 2,000 to 3,000 baht a month, and it was very hard for him and his wife to earn enoughto cover their everyday expenditure (Thailand). These unfair treatments towards Burmeseworkers in Thailand such as poor working conditions, long working hours and receiving lessthan the minimum wage clearly shows that the Thai government is not doing enough to helpthe Burmese migrant workers in Thailand. In the contrary, critics of the Thai government claim that even though some positiveactions have been taken in order to aid the Burmese migrant workers, they are alao beingabused by the government and police, along with their employers. When policemen inRanong beat a Burmese teenagers to death, people just stood there and watched the abuse butdid not care to help because they were frightened of the police. One of the witness said thathe felt that Burmese people always have to be frightened of the Thai police because they arescared of getting deported (Pichai). Many Burmese workers in Thailand also live under thethreat of arbitrary arrest by the police. For instance, a Karen worker said that Thai policediscriminate and abuse against Burmese workers and that even if they have work permits,they must give money to the police to avoid worse abuse (Burmese Migrant Worker). Inanother case, a 12 year old girl who had no registration card when stopped by the police wasforced to pay 1,000 baht as a bribe in order to avoid getting arrested (Thailand). Burmeseworkers are also abused by their employers, who keep their work permits in order to be ableto treat them like slaves (Cropley). Yin Ma became an illegal immigrant when her employertook her work permit. She said that she was frightened and was hurt mentally, that she couldget deported (Cropley). Phoe Nge was beaten constantly and was killed by his employer whotreated him like a slave, and was shot by his employer 7 times simply because the employer‟swife took and interest of him (Burmese Migrant Worker). These cases of human rights abuseboth mentally and physically show how Burmese workers‟ lives in Thailand are devastateddue to the Thai government‟s lack of care and action towards them concerning forced
deportation, arbitrary arrest, and inhumane treatment by their employers. Although the Thai government has helped the Burmese migrant workers in Thailandin several ways, it is evidentthat they suffer and face difficult challenges due to the lack ofhelp provided by the Thai government. Additionally, although Burmese workers preferThailand over Burma, Burmese migrant workers are treated unfairly when compared to localThai workers and are abused by police and employers. In conclusion, the Thai governmentshould provide more attention and care to the Burmese migrant workers in Thailand more andthink of effective methods in order to make them feel more secure and comfortable.
Works Cited"Burmese Migrant Children Missing out on Education." One World South Asia. 16 June, 2009. Web. 26 Nov, 2010."Burmese Migrant Worker Abuse". Verbal. May 31, 2009. Web.Nov 16, 2010.Cropley, Ed. "In a Thai Border Town, Burmese Workers Toil in Penury". Reuters. June 04,2007. Web. 15 Nov, 2010."Education of Burmese outside Burma Education of Migrants and Refugees from Burma." Online Burma Library. 20 Dec, 2008. Web. 26 Nov, 2010.Pichai, Usa. "„Halt Abuse of Migrant Workers in Thailand‟ HRW." Mizzima News. 24Feb, 2010. Web. 05 Oct, 2010.Snodgrass, Cedric. "Burmese Migrant Workers in Thailand Burma Digest." Burma Digest.13June, 2007. Web. 17 Oct, 2010."Thailand: The Plight of Burmese Migrant Workers". Amnesty International. n.d. Web. 10 Nov, 2010.