Mon migrant workers in Malaysia invited to register with the UN

Wed 30 Sep 2009, Asah
On the 15th this upcoming October, 2849 Mon migrant workers in Malaysia will be allowed to register as refugees with the United Nations (UN).

The invitation has been extended not only to Mon workers already residing in Malaysia, but also to Mon refugees living in refugee camps in Thailand, many of whom are now moving to Malaysia to take advantage of the UN’s offer.

Registering as refugees win the UN provides migrants with official United Nation identification documents; such identification aids them in finding employment and provides legal benefits.

According to Nai Sai Wana, chairman of the Malaysia Mon Refugee Organization, migrant workers from many Burmese ethnic minorities will be allowed to register in much higher numbers than last year. Between 600 and 700 Ka Chin, 10, 000 Chin, over 600 Shan, over 2,800 Mon, over 1,000 Karen, and roughly 400 Karen Ni migrant workers from Burma will be allowed to register with the United Nations by then end of a registration period that started on July 17th and will last until the cutoff point on October 15th.

“On the 15th of March 2009, we registered with UN about 5,000 Mon migrants in Malaysia. So, they gave many Mon migrants this special this October. In 2009, those who have been registered at the UN can get a job easier than others. And NGO groups help those who have registered already to get jobs,“ he added. Nai Sai Wana also mentioned that opportunities for migrant worker registration in Malaysia this year were far greater than last year, when only migrants recently released from prison, or those infected with diseases like HIV, were allowed to register with the UN. According to the chairman, there are over 20,000 Mon migrant workers living, but only 6,500 are members of the Malaysia Mon Refugee Organization. By becoming members of the MMRO, migrant workers are allowed to register with the United Nations as legal workers in Malaysia.

According to a worker already registered in Malaysia, this year the MMRO wants to register more Mon migrants than last year, because the organization is anxious to draw UN attention to migrant worker issues and abuses in Malaysia.

“After we registered, we got a paper [like a certificate] and then one month later we got a UN ID. If we have a UN ID, we are supported when we want a job, and the police don’t arrest us. In fact, we can get a good job as well as a good salary. We aren’t afraid of a boss who doesn’t pay money each month for a working salary,” this worker added.

According to a Mon migrant worker who registered with the UN just last month, many Mon migrant workers in Malaysia want to register with the UN because not registering leaves them vulnerable to being arrested by the Malaysian police will. It is also very difficult to get a good job without a UN certificate and a passport.

“If we have no UN ID or passport, the police can arrest us at any time. And we have to be afraid that they will arrest us if we go somewhere. Those who have a ID get a salary of 1200 Malaysian ringgit per month, but those without an ID only get 800 ringgit per month. Sometime a boss wouldn’t pay our salaries, and we couldn’t complain, this worker added.

On the 13th of August in 2009, 250 Mon migrant workers in Malaysia were allowed to register with the UN, Nai Sai Wana pointed out.

The chairman also mentioned that last year, the UN allowed Kachin migrant workers to register in greater numbers than members of other ethic minorities from Burma. Only 30 member of each ethnic group (including the Mon) were allowed to register.

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