Thai authorities are preparing to take illegal Myanmar job seekers from the rubber plantation hideout to Sadao police station in Songkhla for legal action. (Photo: Assawin Pakkawan)
SONGKHLA: A group of 46 Burmese migrants wishing to find jobs in Malaysia were arrested on Friday night in Sadao district near the Malaysian border.
A combined team of soldiers, border patrol and immigration officers found 34 men and 12 women hiding in a rubber plantation in Tambon Tamnak Kham, after being alerted by the owner of the plantation, Col. Thanitphon Hongwilai, commander of a military task force.
All were migrants from Myanmar.
During interrogation, the migrants told the arrest team through an interpreter that they were two groups. A group was working in Bangkok but wanted to look for work in Malaysia. They had contacted Mong Mao, a job broker from Myanmar, in Malaysia to find them a job there. They were asked to pay 30,000 baht each by first transferring half of the brokerage fee to the job broker. The remaining sum would be paid upon their arrival in Malaysia.
They had traveled by interprovincial bus from Bangkok to the Hat Yai district of Songkhla. A van was sent to take them to the rubber plantation, as they waited for someone to pick them up at the border.
The other group had traveled from Rakhine Township in Myanmar. They had contacted a Myanmar job broker in Malaysia and were told to pay a brokerage fee of 26,000 baht each. They had paid half the brokerage fee and would pay the balance upon arrival in Malaysia.
They had snuck into the country in Ranong province via a natural border crossing before a truck was dispatched to take them to the plantation, where they encountered the first group.
All were taken to Sadao police station for prosecution before being deported to Myanmar, the arrest team said.
Adisorn Kerdmongkol, a representative of a migrant labor development network, recently estimated that 80,000 people crossing the border illegally, the vast majority of them from Myanmar, were arrested in Thailand l ‘last year. As many as 100,000 others have probably escaped authorities and are now employed in key provinces, he added.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said all parties involved should step up efforts to register workers from neighboring countries so they can be employed legally in Thailand, where a labor shortage threatens recovery economic.
The Federation of Thai Industries said the country faces a shortage of around 800,000 migrant workers needed in the manufacturing, service and tourism sectors.