Labor Minister Announces Plans to Reform Migrant Permit Process

Thai and Cambodian officials have collaborated to normalize the status of nearly 84,000 Cambodians who migrated to work in Thailand illegally, Labor Minister Vong Sauth announced last week.

Speaking at the National Assembly on Thursday about labor issues, Mr Sauth also said the two countries were actively working together to legalize another 17,000 migrants.

“With more than 100,000 Cambodians who were working in Thailand illegally, we have worked with Thai authorities to legalize 83,680 Cambodian migrant workers to continue working in Thailand legally,” he said.

Mr Sauth said the two countries’ labor ministries were also in the process of organizing a meeting for mid-November at which they hoped to finalize reforms to the process currently used to permit Cambodians living along the border enter Thailand for work.

“The main point is we are trying to reduce the illegal border crossing of people who live near the border and are in the habit of going to work in Thailand in the morning and returning in the evening, and also the seasonal workers,” he said.

Contacted yesterday, Hou Vuthy, deputy director-general of the Labor Ministry’s general directorate, confirmed that the 84,000 Cambodians had been legalized since 2006 and that November’s meeting would take place in the northern Thai province of Chiang Mai.

Like the labor minister, however, he offered no details about what the reforms to the current permitting process would look like.

“It will provide lots of benefits to migrant workers because [government] authorities will know when they arrive at work,” he said.

Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Hun Hean had not heard of the plan when contacted last week but welcomed the news.

Now “only Poipet City citizens can get into Thailand legally, so other people cross illegally,” he said. “It will be very good to have the identification passes for all people, so they can all work legally and easily in Thailand without concern for their safety and security.”

Supachai Jaisamunt, spokesman for Thailand’s Interior Ministry in Bangkok, declined to comment on the issue and referred questions to other officials, who could not be reached.

(Additional reporting by Zsombor Peter)


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