Future cloudy for Myanmar expats

Future cloudy for Myanmar expats

Migrant workers, students have mixed feelings about their homeland, as world looks on

A woman holds a candle and a picture of leader Aung San Suu Kyi as Myanmar citizens protest against the military coup in Myanmar outside the United Nations venue in Bangkok on Saturday. (Reuters photo)
A woman holds a candle and a picture of leader Aung San Suu Kyi as Myanmar citizens protest against the military coup in Myanmar outside the United Nations venue in Bangkok on Saturday. (Reuters photo)

As a result of a military coup in Myanmar on Feb 1, many migrant workers in Thailand say they are reluctant to go back home, but a student said he and his friends are determined to study and return for the betterment of their homeland.

A 45-year-old Myanmar migrant worker, known only as Macho, said she was concerned over the fate of her country as she believes other nations will boycott the country resulting in a reduction of investment and loss of employment opportunities. The country "is also going backwards" in terms of democracy.

She said that under the National League for Democracy (NLD) Party, the country found a new direction, such as better education and public utility systems, as well as increases in state officials' salaries and pensions, from 50,000 kyat (1,500 baht) a month to 150,000 kyat, she said.

Most people believed the military will not renounce their authority even though they have declared they will make way for new elections in one year, she said.

"Myanmar labourers in other countries [have been] urged to come back to work in Myanmar, but the move has destroyed their dreams instead," Macho said.

However, she believes other nations will put pressure on Myanmar to return to democracy.

Macho also urged the military to show evidence to prove the transparency of the election result.

Another 35-year-old Myanmar worker, known as Min, said most Myanmar labourers hoped to save enough money before heading back to Myanmar to work.

But with the current situation, people want to stay away from the country due to the "unfair power under the dictatorship", he said.

"We now believe investors will want to move out [of Myanmar]," he said. "If we go back we will have to be unemployed. Or even if we are employed, we won't have a good income."

Thousands of people took to Yangon's streets on Saturday to denounce this week's coup, and the government moved to cut off the country's internet after blocking major social media platforms. (Reuters video)

Nevertheless, a 28-year-old student from Yangon said that although he was upset about the situation and worried what might happen to the country, he would do his best in his studies before going back.

The student said he had put high hopes on the latest election. He had voted for the NLD -- he dared to travel to Yangon to cast his vote, despite the threat of Covid-19.

"On Feb 1 when I heard the news about the military takeover, I was angry, fearful, upset and worried at the same time as soon as I woke up," he said.

"I felt it was hopeless to go back to my country. I couldn't even contact my family as they cut off all the telecommunication systems.

"We are still worrying about what is going on.

"My plan is to continue my studies and I will endeavour to help my country as a part of good citizenship," he added, saying that he would not join any protests in Thailand as he does not want confrontations with the police.

Although some Myanmar students may join rallies in Bangkok, most of his friends are too busy with their studies, he said.

"We chose to practise civil disobedience in non-violent ways.

"But we have to be passionate to be able to stay strong. We should be united, fearless, passionate, confident in ourselves that we deserve democracy.

"I am looking forward to all these crises to be solved soon and there will be national reconciliation.

"We do hope our beloved trusted elected leaders including, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, will be released immediately."

When asked what he thought about Thai politics, he said: "As His Majesty the King said, 'Thailand is a land of compromise'.

"Thai people also have a high level of political knowledge. They can make the best in their own ways.

"Myanmar and Thailand, we both have very common things, not only the religion but also our food and culture."

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