Thai workers stranded in Malaysia to get cash aid

Thai workers stranded in Malaysia to get cash aid

FILE PHOTO: Health officials wearing protective clothing as preventive measure against Covid-19 coronavirus guard a checkpoint for returning Thai residents from Malaysia in Nong Chik district in Thailand's southern province of Pattani on April 2, 2020. (AFP)
FILE PHOTO: Health officials wearing protective clothing as preventive measure against Covid-19 coronavirus guard a checkpoint for returning Thai residents from Malaysia in Nong Chik district in Thailand's southern province of Pattani on April 2, 2020. (AFP)

The Interior Ministry is pushing ahead with a proposal to give cash to Thai workers stranded in Malaysia as part of urgent relief measures after the neighbouring country decided to extend its broader closure to April 28.

The shutdown, carried out under Malaysian Movement Control Order (MCO) to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, has severely affected the workers, especially those working at tom yam kung shops, which sell Thai spicy and sour shrimp soup in southern state of Johor Bahru. They cannot make a living and reportedly wait desperately for food given by Malaysian authorities once every three days.

At least 20 Thais, mostly with no work licences, work at tom yam kung shops, Narong Sasithon, Thai ambassador to Malaysia, said, adding they are among several hundreds of Thai workers and students who are prohibited from travelling under the MCO.

"We are really worried about their living conditions," deputy Interior Minister Niphon Bunyamanee said ahead of his trip to Narathiwat today to discuss the issue with local officials and Thai diplomats.

He earlier asked the cabinet to carry out a cash handout programme for eligible Thai workers in Malaysia. The deputy minister needs an update on the condition of the workers during his meeting today to better plan the help.

Currently the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur is helping workers by asking volunteers to give them food, and for those working in some areas, they will get necessities through the mail.

The embassy is also helping 250 Thai students who have been ordered to stay in dorms during the MCO, Mr Niphon said. Their universities also take good care of them, treating them to two meals a day.

Kuala Lumpur earlier planned to enforce the MCO until April 18, but with the epidemic in Malaysia still volatile, it has decided to extend the travel restriction period.

Meanwhile, officials in the southern province of Satun are preparing facilities to quarantine Thai arrivals from Malaysia.

The city auditorium as well as 23 designated spots, including some schools, in Muang district will be used to keep them under watch for 14 days, Muang district chief Kongskun Chantharat said yesterday.

Relatives of all returnees have also been asked to help officials during the self-isolation period. "Each family will take care of their children," he said.

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