Lt Phatkorn Pongpaiboon from Thalang Police was called to the workers’ camp, in Baan Lipon, Moo 5, Srisoonthorn, at 11pm on Feb 13 on being notified that a newborn baby had died at the camp.
At the camp, Lt Phatkorn and rescue workers met Myanmar couple Mr Ang Thu Lin, 24, and Miss Moe Khat, 24. Ms Moe was crying still cradling the body of her newborn daughter in her arms.
Lt Phatkorn explained, “We questioned the couple. They have been staying at the camp with their 5-years-old son for two months.
“Ms Moe became pregnant, and Mr Ang said they both went to Thalang Hospital to ask about any costs involved in having the baby delivered there. He said they were told it would cost B20,000.
“Mr Ang said he could not afford to pay that amount, and the couple planned to return to Myanmar and have the baby born there.
"But Ms Moe started having contractions at 7pm that night and was able to deliver the baby with assistance from neighbours. The baby stayed alive for 13 hours, and she passed away at 9pm,” he said.
“After we arrived, Ms Moe was taken Thalang Hospital to make sure that she was in safe condition,” Lt Phatkorn confirmed.
As the investigating officer, Lt Phatkorn said there were no charges to be pressed against anyone as he found no evidence of anyone responsible for the baby’s death.
“The baby’s death was not caused by anyone’s actions, and that is according to the result of the post-mortem examination from Thalang hospital,”
“I spoke with a representative from the company who hired the couple. Both are legally registered and have work permits and are registered with social security fund. Everything is in order,” Lt Phatkorn said.
Thalang Hospital Director Bunpot Pankhlueb said he had no knowledge of the death of Mr Ang and Ms Moe’s baby, or of any Myanmar people being refused hospital care because of lack of funds to pay for the treatment.
“I don’t know about any case about a Myanmar baby dying,” he told The Phuket News.
Seangdao Promkhan, head of the Management Division at Thalang Hospital, also denied any knowledge about the case.
"Generally, Myanmar patients come to ask about all kinds of medical costs at the hospital. There will not be any record when they come in asking for information,” she said.
The claims by Mr Bunpot and Ms Seangdao denying any knowledge of Ms Moe’s come despite Lt Phatkorn confirming that the hospital provided post-natal care for Ms Moe and performed a post-mortem examination on her child’s body.
“We have standard procedures for emergency cases involving pregnant migrant workers. Cases involving pregnancy are considered by the private insurance and the social security insurance,” Mr Bunpot said.
“The case of social security insurance is for normal circumstances involving giving birth. They have to pay first, then they can claim the get money back later. If not, hospital staff will contact the employer to confirm the migrant worker’s rights,” he added.
As such, Mr Bunpot gave no explanation about whether or not hospital staff confirmed Ms Moe’s right to standard health care as guaranteed under Thai law.
Mr Bunpot also neglected to explain the B20,000 price that Mr Ang was told he would have to pay.
The provision of standard health care for legally registered migrant workers has been recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as far back as 2016.
One bulletin issued by WHO plainly states: “Migrants who have work permits are fully covered by the Thai social security scheme. This is a mandatory scheme financed by payroll taxes, to which employers, employees and the government contribute equal parts. Thai nationals and migrants who contribute to the social security system have equal rights of access to social security benefits, including health services.
Regardless, Ms Saendao made her position clear on the issue. “We will not follow up on this,” she said.
Peeraporn Borvontanasan, senior officer at the Phuket Social Security Office, also said she was unaware of the death of Mr Ang and Ms Moe’s baby.
“It is up to the employee to contact the Social Security Office. No one has contacted me about this,” she said.
“I don’t know why Mr Ang and Ms Moe did not go to the hospital. Employees covered by the Social Security Office are covered for up to B13,000 in fees for medical treatment for giving birth to a baby.” Ms Peeraporn added.
“Honestly, I have not been notified about this case. At this stage, however, it is employee’s responsibility to claim compensation for their baby’s death,” she said.
However, that understanding flies in the face of the action taken by the Phuket SSO in the horrific building collapse in the same area in Thalang in November that killed seven workers, when Wanarat Srisuksai, Director of the national Bureau of Occupational Safety and Health, under the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare (DLPW) of the Ministry of Labour, and DLPW Inspector-General Anan Bowonnaowarak inspected the site of the building collapse.
In that case, the Phuket Social Security Office was ordered to accelerate “the examination of various rights regarding remedies” for the workers, even though they were not even registered with the SSO. (See story here.)
Asked who is responsible for informing workers of their benefits, Ms Peeraporn said plainly, “It is Phuket Provincial Employment Office’s responsibility to tell all workers.”
THE EMPLOYMENT OFFICE
Phuket Provincial Employment Office Chief Santi Nantasuwan told The Phuket News this week that he too had no knowledge about the case.
However, now that the death of Mr Ang and Ms Moe’s baby has been brought to his attention, Mr Santi assured, “But now we are contacting the police to find out which company oversees the camp where the Myanmar couple are staying.
“We want to check that everything is legal with the workers and the company. We will try to find them soon,” he said.