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Phuket Opinion: Chasing Myanmar

Phuket Opinion: Chasing Myanmar

PHUKET: The current push to hunt down Myanmar nationals suspected of bringing COVID-19 to Phuket screams loudly of the long-standing attitude officialdom has of Phuket’s legalised cheap labour.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 6 December 2020, 09:00AM

Myanmar women at a construction site in Phuket. Photo: The Phuket News / file

Myanmar women at a construction site in Phuket. Photo: The Phuket News / file

The order in Phuket to “crack down” on new arrivals to the island from Thailand’s westerly neighbour came only early this past week, more than three months after more serious orders for officials to take proactive action were issued in Phang Nga, the province immediately north of Phuket.

Those orders were issued by Chamroen Tipayapongtada, a former Governor of Phuket, well liked and well respected during his time on the island for his common sense approach to dealing with issues. Of note, he is much younger than the traditional age of our serving governors.

Mr Chamroen is well versed in how the migrant worker supply trade works in Phuket, and well aware that any migrant workers heading for Phuket must pass through Phang Nga first.

His orders to subordinate officials in Phang Nga included serious warnings against any employers found with illegal migrant workers AND warnings of serious action against any officials responsible for areas where any illegal migrant workers are found.

Meanwhile, for months, Phuket officials did nothing. There is no way this could be believed to be a coincidence. The crackdown in Phuket came only after a direct order from the prime minister.

Hard-working people from Myanmar have long been the backbone of Phuket’s rise over the past two decades. The government would like to talk all about investors and new construction, but no mention is given of how important these people are to businesses across Phuket, despite living in the poorest conditions on the island even while working for local municipalities doing work that many Thais simple choose not to do.

Before the COVID crisis, the reliance on Myanmar workers and their low rates of pay permeated nearly every business sector on the island. Everywhere you went you saw a Myanmar worker in your local restaurant, at your local store – and those were just the one you could see. As Phuket tries to climb out of the economic hole we have found ourselves in, it is very difficult to see that dependence fading.

According to the Phuket Employment Office there are 59,000 migrant workers on the island; 80% of those are from Myanmar. Of course officials must target sections of the community that are at more risk of bringing COVID-19 to the island, but the attitude behind the approach is appalling. These “visiting neighbours”, many of whom have lived on Phuket for years, must not be taken for granted.

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Jor12 | 07 December 2020 - 15:22:08

k...a commentator has suggested a point to which I disagree and say so and give reasons for saying so, with sound psychological reasons to strengthen that counter argument.  

Kurt | 07 December 2020 - 10:09:27

See here! 3 Reactions without any forum contents at a row from D, P, and J. Just always insinuating, suggesting, pretending things. Often insulting personally others. And when they are wrong, just twisting and derailing senseless.
Never come out with own opinions as they are invited for by PN. Pity, that downgrading behavior.

Jor12 | 07 December 2020 - 03:47:24

LA...I do too, but would definitely not agree with your prognosis of substandard work forces. I don't hire people as cheap labour to help my bottom line. I have more dignity  than that. No wonder there is such a backlash against the "hi so's'.  You aptly demonstrate that. 

Pascale | 06 December 2020 - 22:45:52

300 ?  Wow, never knew there were so many shoe shiner in Yangon.

DeKaaskopp | 06 December 2020 - 22:04:27

Of course you did Munchausen !  Lol !  

LALALA | 06 December 2020 - 16:25:24

Jor 12, because I used to run a company in Myanmar with around 300 permanent employees.

LALALA | 06 December 2020 - 16:21:52

Maybe for you Pascale, not for me. For me most important is quality as I save on maintenance and follow up later which has a positive impact on project cost overall. If its cheaper at the front end is only a additional plus but not most important. And if I hire Myanmar labor I get more quality then when I hire LOS solly no have, maybe tomollow attitude.

Pascale | 06 December 2020 - 15:54:11

@Lala  You forgot to mention the most import point for yourself why you would choose worker from Myanmar. They are cheaper !

Jor12 | 06 December 2020 - 15:09:48

La...and how would know that, given that you stated you keep away from the "riff raff." Do you actually employ anyone? It's not blame game it's just a plain fact as to where the infections are occurring. 

LALALA | 06 December 2020 - 12:22:40

I personally would rather employ Myanmar labor than any Thai, simply because they are more skilled and not as lazy as Thai. Surely Thai authorities now start to blame the new 'outbreak' in Northern Thailand on Myanmar even if it was caused by negligence of their own citizens. Business as usual, face saving lies in LOS continue.


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