Thailand says no policy to ‘sweep and clean’ illegal migrants

admin   •   June 16, 2014   •   2214

Cambodian workers ride on military trucks as they prepare to cross the Thai-Cambodia border at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew June 15, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA

Cambodian workers ride on military trucks as they prepare to cross the Thai-Cambodia border at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew June 15, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA

(Reuters) – Thailand’s junta denied on Monday that they were pursuing a “sweep and clean” policy of driving illegal foreign workers out of the country, despite mass departures by fearful Cambodians since the military took power last month.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that more than 100,000 undocumented Cambodian men, women and children have fled Thailand amid fears of a crackdown on illegal labor sine the May 22 coup.

The military’s ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) insists Cambodians are leaving of their own accord and said 60,000 had crossed the border as of Saturday. It estimates there were 90,000 illegals in Thailand.

Highways leading to the Cambodian border were packed on Sunday with trucks and buses full of Cambodian workers opting to head home rather than face any confrontation with Thai authorities.

“The NCPO has no policy to sweep and clean, but teams must go to areas where there are illegal laborers to organize and manage the foreign work force as we have accumulated problems over the past 10 years,” NCPO spokesman Winthai Suvaree told Reuters.

“We ask that those who employ foreign workers continue their activities as normal and maintain good order.”

Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry said it would ask Thailand to ensure better treatment for those leaving.

“We request that they send workers in a humanitarian way, or without prosecuting, and facilitate the legalization of undocumented workers,” said ministry spokesman Kuy Kuong.

Rights groups told Reuters they were unaware of departures by the more numerous community of migrant workers from Myanmar.

The exodus could prove disastrous for the Thai economy, which relies heavily on foreign workers, mainly from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, to perform jobs most Thais are reluctant to do, including manual labor and domestic work.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power in a bloodless coup following six months of street protests aimed at overthrowing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in a 2006 coup, was seen by many as the power behind the Yingluck government and as the most divisive politician in recent Thai history.

Thailand has been split for a decade between supporters of Thaksin and his policy of welfare benefits in the north and northeast and Bangkok-based royalist groups that accuse him of rampant vote buying and nepotism.

Despite a long history of enmity between Thailand and Cambodia, Cambodia’s veteran leader, Hun Sen, became a close ally of Thaksin during his more than five years as premier.

Several leaders of the pro-Thaksin “red shirt” movement have sought refuge in Cambodia after bouts of turmoil in Thailand, including after last month’s coup.

It remains unclear, however, whether any downturn in ties played a role in the mass departures. Thailand’s Foreign Ministry denied they were linked to politics.

“With Cambodia we have very good relations. They know that the rumors are unfounded and caused a lot of panic,” ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee told Reuters.

“Cambodia has worked with Thailand to clarify to those going home that there is no threat to them here.”

(Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak and Prak Chan Thul in PHNOM PENH; Editing by Ron Popeski and Nick Macfie)

Schools across Thailand reopen after coronavirus cases slow down

UNTV News   •   July 1, 2020

Schools across Thailand re-opened on Wednesday (July 1) with coronavirus prevention measures in place, following months of closure.

Nearly 5,000 students returned to Sam Khok school, about 50 km north of Bangkok, wearing face masks and receiving face shields and temperature checks from the school.

“Once students arrive at school, teachers hand face masks to them because it’s mandatory to wear them. We (school) are also providing face shields for students’ project presentations or for eating,” said principal Chuchart Thiengtham.

He added that students were told to stay in home quarantine for 15 days before school re-started as an extra precaution.

The school has also turned old ballot boxes into classroom partitions to enforce social distancing between students.

“I feel safe, but annoyed at the same time because partition blocked my view,” said 17-year-old student, Soponwich Thianthong.

Thailand on Wednesday marked 37 days without a case of local transmission. The coronavirus has killed 58 people among its 3,173 infections.

The country has extended an emergency decree until the end of July in a bid to avoid the risk of a second wave of the coronavirus, although it is also set to ease more restrictions on Wednesday, including reopening bars and allowing some foreigners into the country. (Reuters)

(Production: Vorasit Satienlerk, Jiraporn Kuhakan)

No more touching: Thai mall installs foot pedals in elevators

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020

No more touching in the elevators as a Thai shopping mall in Bangkok installed foot pedals for customers to step on instead of pressing the buttons, lowering the risk of having to be exposed to germs.

“Now everyone is worried about getting infected with the COVID-19 and the easiest way to get infected is that when you touch an object that has been contaminated with the COVID-19 virus, and then eventually touch your face and the virus will go into your mouth, your eyes or whatever. So, we came up with this idea of hand-free foot-operated elevator,” said Prote Sosothikul, the vice president of Seacon Development PLC which oversees the mall.

The foot-operated elevator pedal system is also welcomed by mall customers, saying they felt safer to use the lift without actually touching the buttons, reducing the risk of getting infected.

“I think they did a good job in preparing this. I feel much safer… Now that we can use our foot to press the elevator, it’s really great,” said 26-year-old Watcharaporn.

Thailand on Sunday (May 17) reopened malls and department stores for the first time since March in its second phase of relaxing measures as the number of new cases slowed.

Thailand has reported a total of 3,034 cases of the coronavirus and 56 deaths. (Reuters)

(Production: Artorn Pookasook, Juarawee Kittisilpa)

Trump urges U.S. to halt most social activity in virus fight, warns of recession

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump urged Americans on Monday (March 16) to halt most social activities for 15 days and not congregate in groups larger than 10 people in a newly aggressive effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Announcing new guidelines from his coronavirus task force, the president said people should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms.

As stocks tumbled, Trump warned that a recession was possible, a development that could affect his chances of re-election in November. The Republican president said he was focused on addressing the health crisis and that the economy would get better once that was in line.

The task force implored young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk if they develop the respiratory disease.

Reporters staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing measures.

Trump said the worst of the virus could be over by July, August or later. He called it an invisible enemy.

The president has taken criticism for playing down the seriousness of the virus in the early days of its U.S. spread. On Monday, when asked, he gave himself a good grade for his response.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job,” he said.

Trump said a nationwide curfew was not under consideration at this point.

Normally a cheerleader for the U.S. economy, he acknowledged the possibility of a recession while brushing off another dramatic decline on stock markets as investors worried about the virus.

“We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus. Once we stop, I think there’s a tremendous pent up demand, both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump said. The president has long considered soaring stock markets to be a sign of his administration’s success.

Trump said the administration had talked regularly about domestic travel restrictions but hoped not to have to put such measures in place.

He said he thought it would still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June. Trump upset European countries, which make up a large part of the G7, by instituting travel restrictions from European countries without consulting with them first. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

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