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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Illegal migrants from Cambodia remit less

Illegal migrants from Cambodia remit less

Study says those from Laos, Myanmar send more

CAMBODIAN migrants working illegally in Thailand are less likely to send money back to their relatives than their counterparts from Myanmar and Laos, researchers said Wednesday in Phnom Penh at the launch of a conference on regional migration.

Around 40 percent of Cambodian workers send money back to their families, whereas 51 percent of workers from Myanmar and 56 percent of workers from Laos do the same, according to research conducted by the Institute of Population and Social Research at Mahidol University in Bangkok.

Aree Jampaklay, the lead author of a draft report presented at the conference, said researchers had been unable to determine why Cambodians remit less money, but speculated that Cambodian workers might be more likely to have brought their families with them when they crossed the border.

“One reason might be because [Cambodians] who live in Thailand might have family already in the country, or because they are unregistered they can come back and forth,” she said.

The draft report drew from interviews with 356 migrants – 120 each from Cambodia and Myanmar, and 116 from Laos – conducted in 2007. Andy Hall, director of Thailand’s Migrant Justice Programme, said that although the study was somewhat dated, the overall findings were likely still accurate.

We live illegally, so one month our boss cut our salary by 300 baht (US$9).

Several illegal migrant workers interviewed on Wednesday said they were prevented from sending more money back home by payments they were forced to make to employers to avoid deportation.
Meng Kong, who said he works in the timber industry and has been based in Thailand’s Trat province for the past 18 years, said his boss sporadically forced him to pay a fee to avoid being turned over to police.

“We live illegally, so one month our boss cut our salary by 300 baht (US$9) per month,” he said. “If we don’t agree, the police will come to arrest us.”

Hall said remittance payments from illegal Cambodian migrant workers would likely decrease as a result of Thailand’s new nationality-verification process. Migrant workers were given a deadline of March 2 to register for the process, wherein they were to submit documents to their home governments in order to secure new work permits in Thailand.

“I would say the number [of migrants sending remittance payments] would be the same, but I would imagine remittance would be hit quite hard by registration, because of additional costs they have to pay,” he said.

The conference, dubbed the “International Conference on Mobility Patterns of Cambodian and Other Nationals in the South East Asia Region”, runs until Friday.

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