46 Myanmar job seekers caught near Malaysian border

46 Myanmar job seekers caught near Malaysian border

Thai authorities prepare to take illegal Myanmar job seekers from the rubber plantation hideout to Sadao police station in Songkhla for legal action. (Photo: Assawin Pakkawan)
Thai authorities prepare to take illegal Myanmar job seekers from the rubber plantation hideout to Sadao police station in Songkhla for legal action. (Photo: Assawin Pakkawan)

SONGKHLA: A group of 46 Myanmar migrants wanting to get jobs in Malaysia were arrested in Sadao district near the Malaysian border on Friday evening.

A combined team of soldiers, border patrol police and immigration officers found 34 men and 12 women hiding in a rubber plantation in tambon Tamnak Kham, after being alerted by the plantation owner, said Col Thanitphon Hongwilai, commander of a military task force.

All were Myanmar migrants.

During questioning, the migrants told the arresting team via an interpreter that there were two groups of them. One group used to work in Bangkok but wanted to seek jobs in Malaysia. They had contacted Mong Mao, a Myanmar job broker, in Malaysia to get them jobs there. They were asked to pay 30,000 baht each by transferring half of the brokerage fees to the job broker first. The remaining sum would be paid when they arrived in Malaysia.

They had travelled by an interprovincial bus from Bangkok to Hat Yai district of Songkhla. A van was sent to take them to the rubber plantation, as they waited for someone to pick them up to the border.

The other group had travelled from Rakhine township in Myanmar. They had contacted a Myanmar job broker in Malaysia and were told to pay 26,000-baht brokerage fees each. They had paid half of the brokerage fees and would pay the remaining sum when arriving in Malaysia.  

They had sneaked into the country in Ranong province via a natural border crossing before a truck was sent to take them to the plantation, where they met the first group.

All were taken to Sadao police station for legal proceedings before being deported to Myanmar, said the arresting team.

Adisorn Kerdmongkol, a representative of a migrant labour development network, recently estimated that 80,000 illegal border crossers, the vast majority of them from Myanmar, were caught in Thailand last year. As many as 100,000 more probably slipped past the authorities and were now employed in major provinces, he added.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has said all parties involved should step up efforts to register workers from neighbouring countries so that they can be employed legally in Thailand, where a labour shortage is threatening the economic recovery.

The Federation of Thai Industries has said that the country faces a shortage of about 800,000 migrant workers needed for the manufacturing, service and tourism sectors.


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