Global Economic Crisis Gravely Affects Khmer Migrant Workers – Wednesday, 8.4.2009

Posted on 10 April 2009. Filed under: Week 607 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 607

I am out of hospital care, but still not yet quite OK. Trying to catch up with the delays.

Norbert Klein

“According to high ranking officials of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, the South Korean government announced on 29 March 2009 to change the quota for accepting Khmer workers, that is to accept less than in 2008, after the world fell into the most serious economic crisis since 1930. According to the South Korean quota for 2008, Cambodia could send more than 4,000 workers per year to Korea, but in 2009, Cambodia can send only some more than 1,000.

“The source from the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, administered by Minister Vong Soth, said that South Korea reduced the number of workers, because the economy of South Korea, especially its industrial sector, is seriously affected by the global economic crisis. South Korea reduced not only the number of workers from Cambodia, but also the number from other countries. In 2008, South Korea accepted 65,000 workers in total from 15 countries including from Cambodia, but in 2009, it reduces the number to only 17,000.

“Officials of the Ministry of Labor and Vocation Training said that South Korea is the third biggest market absorbing Khmer workers, after Siam [Thailand] and Malaysia. Also, a director of a company taking Khmer workers to Siam and Malaysia said that the reduction in the number of workers by the South Korean government was made, after Siam and Malaysia announced two months ago to totally suspend accepting Khmer workers, and no date was mentioned when workers might be accepted again. This increases the number of Khmer citizens who are jobless, while the national economy drops dramatically and alarmingly.

“According to the same officials, previously, Cambodian sent between 7,000 and 8,000 workers legally each year to Siam, Malaysia, and South Korea, to work mostly at industrial factories, construction sites, and in other services. Khmer workers going to different countries both legally and illegally earn approximately US$300 million per year. Also, recently Siam had suspended accepting workers from Cambodia, which was the biggest labor market for Khmer workers.

“An official of an association that sends Khmer workers to foreign countries said that the sending of workers has changed, and it declined strongly by 80% since early 2009, as the production of many factories was reduced, and some factories had to close, and most construction projects were stalled because of the widespread global economic crisis. Economists of an international organization said that the economic crisis, which requires different governments to think about unemployment of their own citizens by reducing the presence of foreign workers, seriously contributes to the impact on the situation of Cambodian migrant workers, which leads to concern about agriculture in Cambodia, whether it can provide employment to workers who are forced to return home from abroad.

“The director of the Cambodian Economic Association, Mr. Chan Sophal, predicted that the condition of Khmer migrant workers will face stronger negative problems than before. In the meantime, some economists said that while the economies of South Korea, Siam, and Malaysia are declining, they will not accept Khmer workers as before, because those countries also find it difficult to handle the effects of the global financial crisis. Most importantly, the Cambodian government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen has to hurry to deal with the problem of unemployment, so that the nation will not face a serious crisis.

“According to a report of the International Labor Organization [ILO] – about the global employment situation in 2009 – following the economic crisis, about 200 million workers mostly in developing countries will fall into absolute poverty, 140 million of these workers are in Asia. As for Cambodia, ILO estimated that around 500,000 workers are being harmed by the economic downturn, and tens of thousands of workers had already lost their jobs in the garment and construction sectors, excluding investment in agriculture, which is an important income source of the nation.

“As for the plan to send Khmer workers to Kuwait and Hong Kong soon, it is still unclear, because the government seems not to pay much attention on this problem. And the plan of the Hun Sen government to release a small amount of money to support workers who lost their jobs because of the economic crisis cannot cope with the increasing number of unemployed workers.

“Non-government organization officials observing the Cambodian economy said that since September 2008 until 2009, the Cambodian economy fell sharply, which strongly affects the living standard of a broad range of citizens. Obviously, as the national economy plunges and tens of thousands of Khmer citizens and workers lose their jobs, the prices of many goods skyrocket. The Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon, and the government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, are not seen taking action against the increasing inflation in order to ease the living of ordinary citizens.

“Some observers said that under Prime Minister Hun Sen’s rule, since the national election in 1998, the economy has not developed like that of neighboring countries, so that there would be enough jobs for the citizens. Therefore, some Khmer workers cross the border to illegally seek jobs in Siam, but they are arrested and sent back to Cambodia through the Poipet border crossing point, almost every day many of them arriving back.

“Observers said that at this stage, the Hun Sen government has to release reserve funds to stabilize the economy so that it does not continue to drop, otherwise the number of workers and citizens who are unemployed will increase, which might lead them to street protests, asking for solutions from Prime Minister Hun Sen. So far, Cambodia is facing a severe crisis, and Prime Minister Hun Sen has to settle the related problems urgently, otherwise his position as prime minister will be under threat.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3732, 8.4.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #55, 8.4.2009

  • Duch Charges that the Khmer Rouge Regime Came into Being because America Supported General Lon Nol’s [Khmer Republic] Regime

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #159-160, 7-8.4.2009

  • Cambodia Accuses [the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs] Kasit of Stirring up Instability by Claiming that [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Is Hiding in Cambodia
  • Cheam Yeap [chairperson of the parliamentary Commission for Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit]: Despite the Global Economic Crisis, Cambodia Will Try to Achieve 6% Growth [in 2009]
  • The Head of the Government Asks Vietnam to Help by Buying Cambodian Paddy Rice

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #19178, 8.4.2009

  • America Does Not Comment on Duch’s Accusations
  • Japan Grants US$5.6 Million to the Cambodian Mine Action Center for Mine Clearance in Cambodia
  • A Severe Earthquake in Italy Killed 150 People [by now 280], Injured 1,500, and Made 100,000 Homeless

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6623, 7.4.2009

  • At the Disputed Region Both Sides Step Up Troop Positions against Each Other; the Word “Pra Viharn” [the Thai pronounciation, rendered in English, for the Khmer pronounciation “Preah Vihear,” rendered in English] Is Still a Problem at the Joint Border Committee Discussing Border Markers and Troop Withdrawal from the Preah Vihear Region
  • [Two units of] Cambodian Peace Keeper Forces Prepare to Go to the Central African Republic and to Chad

Mate Neak, Vol.2, #28, 8-15.4.2009

  • The New Malaysian Prime Minister [Najib Razak] Is Sworn in to Take Office

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3732, 8.4.2009

  • Global Economic Crisis Gravely Affects Khmer Migrant Workers

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1429, 8.4.2009

  • Prime Minister Samdech [Hun Sen] Orders to Rebuild the Market at the Preah Vihear Temple [after it was burnt down during the recent military conflict]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4866, 8.4.2009

  • Duch Recognizes that Torture at M-13 [a center created by the Khmer Rouge between 1971 and 1975, before they overthrew the Khmer Republic] Was Cruel
  • Cambodia and Siam [Thailand] Agree to Set Border Markers Starting in July
  • Germany Said that It Will Maintain Aid for Cambodia at the Same Level
  • 50 Brahman Cows [that grow big quickly and provide much meat] Are Brought for Breeding into Cambodia

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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