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The Myanmar Association in Thailand (MAT) has called on the Burmese government to recall its labour attachés from the embassy in Bangkok due to their unhelpfulness and rudeness in dealing with migrant workers in need of consular assistance.
MAT director Kyaw Thaung urged the new National League for Democracy (NLD)-led administration to replace the military-background labour attachés with genuine civil servants.
“On 4 July, the MAT requested assistance from the labour attachés concerning a case of migrants who had to work from 5am to 2pm for a wage of just 200 baht [US$5.70],” said Kyaw Thaung. “They responded by saying that they did not want to lose face by confronting the Thai Labour Ministry about it.”
He continued: “Then, a couple of days ago, we reached out to them again, requesting help for another group of migrants. The attachés yelled at us, shouted rude things, and threatened to get us arrested for disturbing their work.
“We believe these officials pay no attention to real migrant issues. They are only willing to work with ‘brokers’. We call for them to be recalled and replaced with real civil servants with civilian backgrounds. It is very inconvenient working with officials with military backgrounds who have no desire to change.”
On a recent visit to Thailand, Burma’s new State Counsellor and Foreign Affairs Minister Aung San Suu Kyi met with various Burmese migrant advocacy groups in the country, following which she urged embassy officials to provide the appropriate assistance to Burmese citizens in need.
U Khaing, the chairman of the Thailand-based Aid Alliance Committee for Myanmar Workers, echoed the MAT complaints.
“Since 2012, four batches of attachés have passed through the embassy, and none did very well,” he told DVB. “We assume they have their own limitations – there are over three million Burmese migrants in Thailand and just two labour attachés, neither of whom ever seem to be familiar with Thai labour laws or indeed the country itself.
“They have so many requests for help that I think they just stop picking up the phone,” he said.
The Burmese embassy in Bangkok was unavailable for comment.