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Cambodians wait at Phuket's Immigration HQ for the bus ride home

Phuket's Unwanted Cambodians Ride Home in Style

Wednesday, November 3, 2010
SOME illegal immigrants get it better than others. Two busloads of Cambodians set off from Phuket for the border late yesterday evening in two tourist-style buses, hired at a cost of 80,000 baht.

The Cambodians, 59 males and 20 females, had been arrested at a Phuket construction site a few days ago. Large groups of Cambodians on Phuket are relatively unusual.

Late yesterday, the group was freed from the tight cells at Immigration headquarters in Phuket City and allowed to squat in the courtyard, chatting animatedly among themselves as they awaited the 15-hour journey to the border crossing at Sakaeo.

Cambodians are not obvious on Phuket. Burmese laborers, illegal and legal, are said to number 200,000 on the island.

This Cambodian group had mostly been involved with one construction company at Mai Khao, a northern beach on Phuket's west coast. And the group were happy to be heading home, having made 240 baht a day for the past two months.

The bill for the buses was being paid by Immigration, an officer said, and that works out to almost 1000 baht per illegal immigrant. Whether or not the construction company involved paid a fine or helped with costs was never quite made clear.

What the Cambodian workers said was that Immigration officers turned up one day, and all the illegal workers on the site were lined up, paid out, then trucked to local police stations.

After two days, their cases came to court, and they were each fined 500 baht. Having worked that fine off by serving a small jail term, two more days of incarceration followed at the Phuket City Immigration cells.

And then, the somewhat luxurious bus ride home. Phuket Immigration officers will escort them on the trip, and come back alone on the buses.

Thing Khuan, 40, told Phuketwan that he had two children waiting for him and was pleased to be heading east. ''Phuket is more expensive, so I spent more than I'd planned,'' he said. ''But that's ok.''

Ball Sumalee, 28, said it was his first time on Phuket, and the first time for many of the other Cambodians. They had all been hired in Cambodia and bussed to Phuket.

There was a payment to police as well, he said.

On a wall at the Phuket City building, not far from the cells, is a sign that says: ''If you have been purchased, threatened forced, deceived or are a victim of Human Trafficking, please inform our Immigration officers. We will be pleased to help you. ''
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


The cynic in me says.. If they were arrested a few days ago, where they arrested just prior to the month end salary payments ??

And then conveniently held, deported and sent off in luxury ??

Hardly seems difficult to determine who they work for, simply look for who billed for the work done.

Posted by LivinLOS on November 3, 2010 14:16


"Phuket Immigration officers will escort them on the trip, and come back alone on the buses."

... with a little stop at the casinos at the Cambo border; the real reason for this unusual bus trip?

Posted by jts-phuket on November 3, 2010 18:01

Editor Comment:

People who know all the facts before they read an article shouldn't bother with this site. Why speculate? The truth is, you have no idea. Your prejudice is showing.


Maybe, just maybe, this relative luxury has something to do with the escalating tension between the two countries

Posted by Insider on November 5, 2010 19:22


Only yesterday I was talking to some Cambodian workers who have recently started work at the same site. Today I saw about 20 running away (from the police?) towards Marriott.

Posted by Mac on November 15, 2010 16:18

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