The Burmese and Illegal Immigration
(Translated from the ‘Khom Chad Leuk’ Thai language newspaper, 5 July 2006)
(Photo: Courtesy of ‘Khom Chad Leuk’)
At the going rate of 10-15,000 baht a head, the border town of Mae Sot, Tak province – is the largest starting point in the whole of the country for illegal Burmese coming to work in Thailand.
Since the local Thai population is becoming more and more tired of undertaking tediously hard manual labor, the need for illegal immigrants willing to do any kind of work for meager pittance has been going up and up. With the assistance of criminal gangs, the illegal Burmese are transported off to work in dirty factories, construction zones and even restaurants and fishing boats.
Just last month, at a temple in Bangkok, the Din Daeng district police arrested 44 illegal Burmese who were found packed into the back of two Isuzu pick-ups like sardine fish. After investigation it was found that that the entire group had walked across the Thai-Burmese border at Mae Sot, Tak (on day passes) and been illegally shipped off to a ‘safe-house’ in Nakhorn Sawan province. After an agent had come to offer them a job, the illegal Burmese forked over another 2,000 baht each for the wonderful privilege to work as construction workers in Bangkok.
Known as ‘The Gateway for Illegal Immigrants’, Tak province is a haven for ‘illegal harbouring gangs’ to do business brokering the lives of poor Burmese with counterpart agents on the opposite side of the border. Our sources found out that the average going rate, which has to be paid by a ‘worker-wanna-be’ to secure both the journey and job in Bangkok, is between 12-15,000 baht. Even a job and the journey to nearby Tak provincial town will set them back 5,000 baht!
One of the arrested Burmese workers in Bangkok, Mr Ong, informed our reporters “It is like a ‘made-to-order’ business. There are gangs operating at every point of the Thai-Burmese border. With a mobile telephone at hand, they are ready and eager, at all times of the day, to ship across the number of illegal workers wanted – it all works like a quota!”
According to sources – the numbers of Burmese working both legally and especially illegally are phenomenal. In just Samut Sakhorn province alone (near Bangkok), there are approximately 80,000 registered legal Burmese workers, however the estimated figure for illegal Burmese is in excess of 150,000! The local people of Samut Sakhorn have compared the influx of illegal Burmese to ‘A Shrimp Market’
One of the locals said “This entire place looks like a Burmese village! There are Burmese restaurants, karaokes and even Burmese prostitutes. Even the government offices are littered with signs in the Burmese language”
The three most strategic entry points for illegal Burmese hoping to strike it lucky and get rich in the ‘Land of Smiles’ are Tak, Kanchanaburi and Ranong provinces.