[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
THE NATION: 980429: Confusion
- Subject: THE NATION: 980429: Confusion
- From: suriya@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 12:16:00
THE weekly meeting of the Chuan Cabinet
briefly plunged into disarray yesterday as
ministers were left bemused and
undecided by the ambiguity of the Labour
Ministry's policy on illegal foreign labour.
The confusion arose from the ministry's
request for a Cabinet approval yesterday to
relax the repatriation of illegal immigrants
employed in 13 provinces bordering
Burma, Laos and Cambodia and in 23
other provinces dependent on the fishing
The ministry had earlier announced that the
labourers would be forced out by May 1.
Labour Minister Trairong Suwankhiri, who
first declared his tough expulsion policy and
later retracted it by proposing the leniency,
was absent yesterday, being on a visit to
His deputy Jongchai Thiangtham failed to
answer a barrage of questions from
confused fellow Cabinet ministers about the
ambiguity of the ministry's policy, prompting
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai to intervene
by asking for more information from
concerned officials, an informed
Government House source said.
Chuan himself, the source said, told the
meeting that he was worried about the
policy change since it was tabled only two
days before the deadline for the
originally-planned repatriation on May 1.
The meeting finally agreed to defer taking a
decision on the Labour Ministry's proposed
leniency after two-and-a-half hours of
confusion and referred the matter back to
the sub-committee studying solutions to the
illegal labour problem, the source said.
The source said any decision announced
by the sub-committee by May 1 will
immediately take effect without having to be
forwarded to the Cabinet for approval.
The Cabinet yesterday also appointed
three more members to the sub-committee,
viz Deputy Prime Minister Panja
Kesornthong, Deputy Prime Minister Suwit
Khunkitti and National Security Council
secretary-general Col Boonsak
The same source said that the Labour
Ministry's policy to repatriate illegal foreign
labourers was questioned by Cabinet
ministers who are MPs representing
provinces where many of the immigrants
Deputy Agriculture Minister Newin
Chidchob quizzed Jongchai as to why
northeastern border provinces like Si Sa
Ket and Buri Ram were not included in the
leniency list and noted that there were many
illegal immigrants working in rock-grinding
plants in those provinces and elsewhere,
the source said.
Before leaving for Vietnam yesterday,
Trairong, in a clear reversal of his earlier
stand that some one million illegal
labourers in Thailand must be expelled by
May 1, said it is impossible to push back all
of them ''in one day''.
''The repatriation will take time. We also
have to ponder on who will replace some
70,000 foreign labourers in the fishing
industry. Sudden massive expulsion will
cause serious damage,'' he said.
However, he said, police will begin
arresting illegal immigrants working at
factories nationwide as originally planned.
Trairong earlier said that Thailand, facing a
severe economic crisis, would have to
expel the illegal foreign labourers and
replace them with jobless Thais to help
cushion the impact on the native population.
Immigration Police Bureau Commissioner
Pol Lt Gen Chidchai Wannasathit said
yesterday that police will start an intensive
crackdown on illegal labourers in 27
As of yesterday, about 100,000 illegal
immigrants have been sent home, he said.
BY PIYANART SRIVALO