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Migrant voters’ hopes get boost in Thailand

Migrant workers wait to cross into Thailand at the Poipet border checkpoint in 2014.
Migrant workers wait to cross into Thailand at the Poipet border checkpoint in 2014. Hong Menea

Migrant voters’ hopes get boost in Thailand

Thailand's Ministry of Labour will call on employers to allow Cambodian citizens working in the neighbouring kingdom to return home to register to vote, Thai officials said yesterday.

The announcement came in response to the consistent lobbying of CNRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, who has made several trips to Thailand to talk about voter registration for Cambodian migrants.

Cambodian workers who carry passports and obtain permission from their employers will be allowed to return home to vote, Thai Labour Minister Puntrik Samiti said, adding that the ministry will encourage – though not compel – employers to grant permission.

But those who currently hold “pink slips”, or temporary work permits that allow them to travel only within their province of employment, cannot take part in the scheme.

When asked whether she was satisfied with the decision, Sochua responded that this progress was better than none.

“Although it is not all that we want . . . now at least the 200,000 who hold a passport can return,” she said, adding that she will continue to ask for an executive order that would stop Thai employers from withholding the passports of foreign workers.

Meanwhile, Sochua said she hopes Cambodia’s labour minister will pressure his Thai counterpart to help more Cambodian workers obtain the documentation needed to travel in and out of the country to register.

Additional reporting by the Bangkok Post

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