Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Passport cost cut after crisis

Passport cost cut after crisis

A military police officer opens the door of a truck for migrant workers in Poipet
A military police officer opens the door of a truck for migrant workers in Poipet after they crossed the Thai-Cambodian border last week. AFP

Passport cost cut after crisis

After the rush of Cambodian migrant workers swelling over the border appeared to finally be subsiding last week, officials said the number started to spike again yesterday, attributing the rise to the announcement of $4 passports.

On Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a subdecree that will see the normal fee of $124 for passports reduced to just $4 for students and migrant workers.

The same day, the number of workers crossing back into Cambodia via the Poipet International Checkpoint declined to 2,421 – towards the lower end of the scale since the mass exodus of workers fleeing Thailand began two weeks ago, but still vastly higher than the 100-person norm before the crisis.

But on Saturday and Sunday, an increasing number of migrants poured into the small checkpoint again.

“I think they heard about the passport prakas,” Banteay Meanchey governor Korsum Saroeurt said. “Many people are saying that they want to come back, get their passport and visa, and return to their jobs in Thailand.”

More than 220,000 mostly undocumented Cambodian workers have come back from Thailand so far, most fleeing fears of an imminent junta-led crackdown. They left behind jobs mainly in construction and agriculture that paid twice as much as in Cambodia.

“Cheaper passports are good but won’t end the problems. The workers will still be exploited,” said Kem Ley, an independent political analyst. “[The government] reduced the cost of the passport, but they didn’t raise the wages of the civil servants responsible for processing the passport or patrolling the border.”

Last week, passport troubles led to 13 migrant workers who were trying to come back to Cambodia going to prison in Thailand instead.

“They were cheated by their ringleader,” said Moeung Mony, an official at the Cambodian-Thai border relations office in Poipet. He added that the workers were not aware that their visas were fake.

The workers are in detention in Thailand awaiting legal assistance from Cambodia, according to Neth Sary, Cambodian consul general in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province.

On Friday, NGOs ADHOC and Human Rights Watch both urged the junta to improve treatment of migrant workers.

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not