Little help for migrant labour

Despite the cabinet’s decision to extend by another two years the nationality verification deadline for migrant workers, the problems of underground labour and exploitation will not go away.

It is estimated that there are about 2-3 million migrant workers in Thailand, mostly from repressive Burma. The deadline extension will allow the registered workers, numbering about a million, a two-year grace period to have their nationality verified and passports issued by their governments as preconditions for obtaining work permits here.

But there are still many stumbling blocks ahead.

To start with, the Thai authorities are not equipped to help the workers deal with a complicated system which concerns various agencies as well as the governments from the workers’ countries of origin.

In addition, if the Burmese government still refuses to speed things up by processing the nationality verification requests in Thailand and still requires the workers to travel back and forth to Burma, the chances of meeting the deadline are zero.

The deadline extension also assumes that the workers are willing to enter the nationality verification process, which is not true.

A large number of migrant workers from Burma are ethnic minorities who face harsh oppression at home. They fear that the information they must give to the Burmese authorities will not only facilitate future extortion but also threaten both their safety and that of their families back home.

Prior to the deadline extension, registered workers were meant to file their nationality verification papers before Feb 28 this year, or face deportation. There was simply no way that 1 million registered migrant workers could meet the deadline, which is only a month away. Continue reading “Little help for migrant labour”

Thailand:Seh Daeng to return on Monday

Army specialist Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol said if police have not issued an arrest warrant for him as reported by the media, he will return to Bangkok on Monday.

“Whether or not I will provide information for state authorities or hold a press conference on the arrest of his close associates depends on the situation”, Maj Gen Khattya, widely known as Seh Daeng said on Saturday morning.

Army Chief Anupong Paojinda on Friday called a meeting of senior army officers and after that he had ordered officers at army units nationwide to arrest Maj Gen Khattiya immediately if they spot him.

Seh Daeng has denied any link to war weapons seized in raids on his home and the living quarters of his aide on Thursday. He also denied any involvement in the Jan 15 M79 grenade attack on the office of the army chief.
BKK Post

At UN, Nigerian Minister Dodges on Mandate, Myanmar and Taxes by Inner City

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 22 — Nigerian Foreign Minister Chief Ojo Maduekwe brought a $1.5 million check for Haiti to the UN’s Ban Ki-moon in New York on Friday. Afterwards Inner City Press asked him about Nigeria’s previous bilateral grant of $500,000 to the military government in Myanmar, months after Cyclone Nargis hit that country.

What had changed Nigeria’s policy, and what follow up had there been on the Myanmar regime’s use of the $500,000? Video here, from Minute 6:22.

Ojo Maduekwe said the money had gone straight to Myanmar’s government so as to be a “speedy response.” But it was months after the cyclone. Here, Ojo Maduekwe here, the Secretary General made a flash appeal. But that was also true in Myanmar. Click here for Inner City Press’ first, exclusive story.

Ojo Maduekwe said, “it’s not that what we did last time was wrong, just that we’re improving.” click links

U.S.: Clinton Criticises China over Internet Censorship

By Eli Clifton

WASHINGTON, Jan 22, 2010 (IPS) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech Thursday laying out the Barack Obama administration’s position on internet freedom, and publicly called on Chinese authorities to investigate the security breaches which preceded last week’s decision by Google to end its cooperation with Chinese internet censorship.

“Those who disrupt the free flow of information in our society or any other pose a threat to our economy, our government and our civil society,” said Clinton in remarks delivered at the Newseum, here in Washington DC.

On Jan. 12, Google announced that it would cease to censor its search engine results in China and, if an agreement could not be reached with the Chinese government over this decision, would shut down its offices in China.

Google’s decision to end their cooperation with the Chinese government was announced along with accusations that Chinese hackers had breached Google’s security and gained access to the email accounts of several diplomats, journalists and Chinese human rights activists.

The decision by Google to go public with the security breaches and refuse to continue with censorship of Google search engine results has called attention to Beijing’s efforts at censorship, as well as the rampant corporate espionage and intellectual property theft reportedly conducted by, or on behalf of, Chinese companies.

While the Chinese government has denied any involvement in the hacking of Google email accounts and claims to be committed to protecting intellectual property rights, many here believe that the Chinese government hasn’t made a serious effort to stamp out these violations.

Recent reports suggest that the Chinese government may be directly involved in the hacking attempts and theft of intellectual property.

According to an FBI report leaked by the Daily Beast last week, the Chinese government has developed 180,000 cyberspies that “poses the largest single threat to the United States for cyberterrorism and has the potential to destroy vital infrastructure, interrupt banking and commerce, and compromise sensitive military and defence databases.” Continue reading “U.S.: Clinton Criticises China over Internet Censorship”

Thailand prepared to explain its record to Human Rights Watch

HUA HIN, Jan 23 (TNA) — Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Saturday that he is prepared to clarify to New York-based Human Rights Watch on its recent charges that his government violated several human rights in 2009.

Expressing puzzlement regarding the NGO’s report to journalists, Mr Abhisit said his government treated anti-government protesters, the ongoing violence-plagued in the three restive southern provinces and alleged lese majeste violators with fairness through law enforcement.

Defending his government’s treatment of law violators, Mr Abhisit said it is necessary for his government to explain to Human Rights Watch.

In its World Report 2010 which was released on Wednesday, Brad Adams, the NGO’s Asia director, said: “While Prime Minister Abhisit sometimes said the right things about human rights in 2009, his actions didn’t match his words. The government continually undermined respect for human rights and due process of law in Thailand.”

The report charged Mr Abhisit of “not honour[ing] his pledge to uphold human rights principles and international law in 2009. Getting Thailand back on track as a rights-respecting nation in 2010 is crucial both for the country and the region.”

Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya told journalists in Krabi that he too had not yet read the report.

Defending the government’s actions in the past year, Mr Kasit said the government did not intervene in legal procedures against anti-government protesters, but that independent continued investigations on the issues.

He said the reports obtained by Human Rights Watch may be out of date and that the foreign ministry would “continue to clarify such charges” in future. (TNA)

Burmese civil servants anticipate increased salaries

Sat 23 Jan 2010, Jeary Chai, Mi Yin Mon
The Burmese government has announced that it will increase civil servant’s salaries by 20,000 kyat a month. Workers learned about the pay-raise when letters ordering the increase were sent to public institutions throughout Burma at the beginning of 2010.

A high school principal informed IMNA that the salary increase orders are meant to ease the financial burdens of civil servants across the country.

According to this principal, the pay increase was ordered by the Burmese government’s Custom’s Department on December 31st, 2009. Despite the fact that the financial year for Burmese civil servants will technically end in April, the Burmese government has decided that the pay raises will commence at the end of January 2010.

A teacher from a primary school heard from the school’s project planner that the salary increases are only temporary; the pay raises will last for 15 months, until the end of the Burmese financial year in 2011. At this point the government will decide whether or not the salary increases will become permanent.

A teacher from Mon State said that the lower civilian staff, like janitors and security guards, who currently are paid roughly 15,000 kyat a month, will get 35,000 kyat per month with the increases. The teachers from primary schools, middle schools, and high schools will also receive an additional 20,000 kyat a month. Continue reading “Burmese civil servants anticipate increased salaries”

USDA kicks off 2 month long campaign in Thanphyuzayart Township

Thu 21 Jan 2010, Ong Mon, Khatter Non
The Thanphyuzayart Township division of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) called meetings with village headmen all over the township last week, in preparation the for the launch of a 2 month long township-wide campaign to organize its members for the 2010 elections.

Insiders confirm that similar USDA campaigns have already been spearheaded in Mudon Township and Moulmein City.

“Right now, they [the USDA] have not called on the villagers [who are members of the USDA] yet. They just called meetings with the village headmen, and ordered them to organize [USDA card-carrying] villagers. They will come and organize among the villagers themselves over the next two months” a Thanphyuzayart Township village headman who attended the USDA meeting in his village told IMNA.

A source who attended a meeting in Thanphyuzayart Township reported to IMNA that the Thanphyuzayart USDA officers pledged that voting for the USDA in the upcoming 2010 elections would be highly beneficial to the people; these officers reportedly claimed that by gaining a chair in parliament, the USDA could promote community development and push for reparation of roads and establishment of schools. Continue reading “USDA kicks off 2 month long campaign in Thanphyuzayart Township”

Successful migrant passport registration motivates more applications

Thu 21 Jan 2010, Jaloon Htaw
Reports of rights gained by migrants who have successfully registered for temporary passports has spurred registration for the temporary passport by Burmese migrant workers, according to migrants and assisting NGOS.

According to Mon migrant worker from an ice factory Maharchai (Samutsakorn), Thailand, migrant workers increasingly believe in the registration process for the temporary passport, after seeing and hearing from others who have already gotten passports and exercised rights guaranteed to them under the Thai/Burma temporary passport system.

“Last time I didn’t believe the Burmese authorities when they said they were making the passport. But now my nephew has actually got a temporary passport,” the migrant worker from ice factory explained, having previously been skeptical of the process. “Everything was ok when he went to do it. So I am interested in doing it. In our factory, we have about 300 people, and they all will register for a passport. Now, in one day, we have about 150 people going to register for a passport in Tachilate.”

Rights guaranteed in the temporary passport allow for unrestricted travel in the kingdom of Thailand, legal status within the eyes of Thai police and immigration authorities, and guaranteed treatment at health care facilities in Thailand.

According to one migrant worker, at a canned fish factory in Maharchai, 10,000 Burmese’s migrant workers have already submitted registration forms for the temporary passport. Continue reading “Successful migrant passport registration motivates more applications”