This interview with U Aung Kyaw, the chairman of Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN), is about the meeting of two police forces, possible consequences and changing policy on Myanmar after the Move Forward party formed the government.
TLT: Could you talk about the arrest of Myanmar migrant workers who illegally crossed Thai border?
U Aung Kyaw: Myanmar youth at all age levels lost their works and employment opportunities after 1 February 2021, and that they tried to seek green pastures abroad legally or illegally. Some of them illegally went to Malaysia. As employments in Singapore, South Korea and Japan need qualifications, they also illegally migrated to neighboring Thailand as common labors amid insecurity in jobs to address their livelihoods through border areas. This type of migration will not end until situations of our country return to normalcy. When our country becomes prosperous and peaceful, our young people could shape their future independently, and human resources will not flow out of the country. At the moment, the young and middle age workforce are trying to seek overseas job as they are not possible to secure livelihood at home.
TLT: Reports said polices forces from Myanmar and Thai discussed cross-border human trafficking cases and preventive measures against illegal migration along the border areas. What is your view on this?
U Aung Kyaw: We recently learnt that most of the illegal migration occurred at Thai border town Kanchanaburi as security has tightened at Myawaddy-Mae Sot border area. And that brokers for illegal migration have chosen safer route.
TLT: In recent Thai elections, the Move Forward Party won majority votes. What will be the impacts on the policy of Myanmar migrant workers if they could form a government?
U Aung Kyaw: The leader of Move Forward party expressed their policy on Myanmar within three years after establishing their party. He made historic remark as a young generation. It was praised by both local and foreign media. As a younger generation, he is active. He systematically challenges for reform. He won majority votes of 52 million population for his election pledge to alter conservative policies. Our peope have also decided to establish a country with justice and freedom after changing the trend for our future. He issued decisive statements and submitted objections for Myanmar people. Even as a party leader, he strongly condemned the coup of Myanmar military that caused the country plunge into darkness. Out of 70 political parties in Thailand, he is the first one to express objection against the military takeover in Myanmar. Since then, we were monitoring them. During his political campaign, he expressed his consideration about Myanmar people, providing humanitarian assistance after they could form a government, and working for Myanmar in collaboration with the United States and the European countries. He understand the hardships of Myanmar migrant workers, and said to support the lives of migrant workers. We remain hopeful for his pledges. After he could form a government, he could help the difficulties of Myanmar migrate workers, the lives of ethnic people at the Myanmar-Thai border and the hardships of our people at home. I believe it.
Moreover, we will have to watch the upcoming situation very cautiously. We also have some worries. Although the election has been held, the winning parties are not ready to form a coalition government. They are still under negotiation, while former General Prayut is leading the caretaker government. We should be very cautious their development. His policy inclines to Myanmar junta leaders. Until the Move Forward party has not formed the government, our people should be vigilant about migration. Illegal migration is very dangerous.
TLT: There are some reports that the representatives of Labour Rights Foundation and the Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN) met with Thai government’s Ministry of Labour on 26 May. What are the topics of discussion?
U Aung Kyaw: As we have established labour union with migrant workers in Thailand for decades. We regularly report the situations of Myanmar migrant workers and their concerns to Thai government after collecting information from our workers. We made discussions with Thai labour unions on the International Workers’ Day or May Day every year. We gave suggestions to Thai government for the well-being of our workers. We also met again with the officials on 1 May. We requested the Ministry of Labour to facilitate the renewal of MoU for our migrant workers after 4 years of labour contract as they are not in favourable situation to go back home due to instability in Myanmar.