The premier’s eldest son, Hun Manet, met with migrant workers in Thailand on Friday, a day after a group of them demonstrated to complain of a cumbersome and expensive process getting the papers needed to work legally.
About 400 frustrated workers and employers gathered at a passport centre in Bangkok on Thursday, said Khluong Veasna, an organiser of the Thai Confederation of Service Employees (SERC).
“Some employers complained the service is way too slow,” he said, adding that Cambodian officials were accused of asking for bribes to expedite the process.
General Manet travelled to Thailand the following day with Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour. During the visit, they announced that workers would no longer need hard copies of documents to apply for passports and that photocopies of their identification cards or birth certificates would be enough. On top of this, he said, the process of getting an appointment would be sped up and simplified.
Manet, a high-ranking military official, said yesterday the trip was part of his job as deputy chief of the National Committee to Legalise Migrant Workers. “The mission is to visit and evaluate the process of assisting the legalization of workers,” he said in a message.
Sour contended that protests by migrant workers had not taken place and that it merely consisted of upset brokers angry at officials for making their work unnecessary. “I and Manet went to Rayong province and workers are so happy, as they receive the document within the same day,” he said.
The trip was met with scepticism by migrant worker Rann Vandy, however, who served Manet in a restaurant in Bangkok during his trip.
“I’m not sure what service he comes to provide to us . . . as I don’t see any proof of him helping us,” he said.
Veasna, of SERC, also disputed that the visit was just to smooth out the process, saying that it was more about praising the party than making changes. “His message is: ‘Because CPP is leading the country under his father, they care so much about migrant workers’. And he asked [us] to continue to support the CPP.”
The rush for documents is due to a Thai Royal Decree in June imposing harsh punishments on undocumented workers and their employers if caught working without papers. The Thai government granted a grace period until the start of next year, when the law is scheduled to go into effect.