Following a four-year delay imposed by the Ministry of Culture, a Cambodian-Thai film intended to educate villagers about the dangers of working illegally in Thailand hit the airwaves last week.
The movie, titled “No Home Too Far,” was filmed in 2001 in Thailand and Cambodia and tells the story of a man who leaves his wife in Prey Veng province for a job in Thailand.
The husband pays a man to get him into Thailand with the promise of a good job. But when he arrives, he is forced to work on a fishing boat where he must toil, even when sick, and some of his salary is stolen by his employer.
He also encounters Cambodians who have contracted HIV/AIDS, and all the workers are eventually arrested by Thai police and returned to Cambodia.
The movie was the brainchild of two NGOs, Cambodian Women for Peace and Development and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, said former CWPD Director Chou Bun Eng.
Both organizations deal with migrant work and HIV/AIDS awareness in the northwestern part of Cambodia, she said.
While the movie was shown in a number of provinces on both sides of the border as part of an educational campaign, the Ministry of Culture prevented it from being shown on television, she said.
“They said there were some parts that were sensitive,” Chou Bun Eng said. “I did not understand.”
Muong Sokhan, deputy director of the Ministry of Culture’s cinema department, said the ministry at the time didn’t believe the film was “strong enough” to prevent Cambodians from entering Thailand illegally for work.
“Actually, the conditions of workers working in Thailand illegally are more serious and bad than in the film, which is why we were afraid the film could not educate people about the difficulties of working in Thailand,” he said. “We did not ban it at all.”
In recent weeks several parliamentarians’ concerned about illegal migration urged the film to be televised.
Apsara television Director Nuth Bophan said Men Sam An, minister of National Assembly and Senate Relations and Inspections, was a key player in getting the film on television. The movie was shown on Apsara on May 14.
“Men Sam An is very worried about Prey Veng’s residents who have emigrated illegally to work in Thailand,” Nuth Bophan said.
Men Sam An said she was too busy to comment this week.
But two Prey Veng brothers, Thom Porn and Thom Thara, laborers in Phnom Penh who want to work in Thailand, said that while the risks are great, the lure of money is strong.
“No one wants to emigrate to another country and work illegally but they have no choice,” said Thom Thara, 23. “They would be starving if they did not.”
emigrate to work in another country because the job market is not large in Cambodia.”