Yangon (Chindwin): The corruption at border checkpoints is flourishing again as hundreds of thousands of Myanmar migrant workers return home from Thailand as a result of job scarcity for migrant workers. Thailand’s economy is stagnating, because of the global pandemic and growing concern with the political instability in the kingdom due to ongoing protests.
Myanmar migrant workers are choosing to return home as life in Thailand is extremely difficult. It is ever more impossible to afford to live in Thailand without a proper job and being in fear of further crackdowns on the migrant population by authorities.
Previously, many thought that it might still be affordable to pay for re-entry at the Thai-Myanmar border, but things have changed dramatically since the military coup in February. Under the previous NLD Administration, people paid only 500 Baht at the border control gate to the authorities for re-entry. Now, it is much more likely that the State Administrative Council (SAC) authority is charging returnees 10,000 Baht for re-entry. This appears to suggest that the corruption at the border checkpoints has increased two-hundredfold within just eight months of the coup.
Similarly, the coercive charge of hundreds of US dollars for returnees at the Yangon International airport by the border control authority has reportedly been trending on social media lately. People with knowledge of the matter told Chindwin that life at the border control immediately changed after the coup with travellers being treated disrespectfully.
Mr Ye Min posted on his social media regardless of this matter saying that this is what people are dealing with the junta and the check-point becomes a hell-hole. Chindwin has attempted several times to contact the person, but unable to reach him.
There were more than one million Myanmar workers registered in the kingdom at the end of 2020, according to Thailand’s Labor ministry. Human rights groups have been campaigning for better protection of Myanmar workers in Thailand.
Corruption at border control checkpoints is a severe problem for Myanmar. Bribery and corruption have been the best survival methods for the military elites and their cronies for many decades. A U.N survey in 2014 reveals that corruption is the greatest hindrance for business and foreign investment and trade in Myanmar.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows that Myanmar’s corruption index was at 147 in 2015 at a time when former President Thein Sein was finishing his presidential tenure. Little has progressed from 2016 – 2020 under NLD (National League for Democracy) government – at 137.
After the coup, few individuals close to the military, Chindwin has learned, praise the military for staging the coup on their social media and condemn the NLD government as incompetent for governance and managing of the economy.