Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai passport offices get OK

Thai passport offices get OK

Cambodian workers at the Daung International Checkpoint in Battambang last year.
Cambodian workers at the Daung International Checkpoint in Battambang last year. Heng Chivoan

Thai passport offices get OK

The Ministry of Labour yesterday announced the green light had been given on new offices in Thailand designed to hasten the issuing of passport and travel documents for Cambodian migrants working there illegally.

The news comes as the National Police announced the number of Cambodian migrant workers last year had dropped by about 30 percent – to some 320,000 – during an anti-trafficking meeting on Tuesday between the Kingdom, Laos and Vietnam. However, unofficial estimates of Cambodian migrants abroad run as high as 1 million, with the majority in Thailand.

Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour posted an eight-point plan on the new documentation offices on his Facebook page after a meeting between Thai authorities and a committee for legalising Cambodian workers – a body vice-chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son Hun Manet.

“From March 1, 2017, the Thai side agrees with Cambodia to directly provide passports or travel documents to Cambodian workers who have pink cards and have been working in factories and enterprises
that employ a Cambodian workforce of 80 or more,” the plan read.

Thailand has also agreed to send immigration officers to factories to facilitate the documents, and to “reduce the required documents” Thai employers requested. Sour could not be reached for clarification yesterday.

Dy The Hoya, of workers’ rights NGO Central, welcomed the move to fast-track legal documents for workers over the border, but detected a political motive, and feared it may not benefit workers in practice. “If it is effective, it would be helpful for decreasing trafficking, but in case it is not, it is just for marketing; we are close to the election,” he said.

“The thing is, migrant workers do not know about this news,” he said, saying he has spoken with many Cambodian labourers in Thailand since the new offices were announced. He said the proposed 955 baht (about $27) price for passports was very reasonable, but feared hidden costs may be involved.

He stressed there was still a very high risk of migrant workers being lured onto fishing boats, and a lack of proper documents could fuel that danger. A study released earlier this week warned that even when migrants are armed with legal documents, they can still be vulnerable to abuse at the hands unscrupulous employers.

National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun on Tuesday said Cambodia was vulnerable to new technologies that could be used by brokers and traffickers to trick workers into slavery.

“[We must] provide each other the blacklist and masterminds and networks of human trafficking criminals in order to arrest, and secondly continue to strengthen checks at borders to prevent the illegal flow in and out of human trafficking,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Aeon, Micromax partner again for third mall

    AEON Mall (Cambodia) Co Ltd and a locally-owned Micromax Co Ltd have entered into a partnership agreement to develop fibre optic infrastructure for $200 million Aeon Mall 3, which is expected to be opened in 2023. The agreement was signed on June 20 between Masayuki Tsuboya, managing director of