During a Sangkran ceremony to celebrate the Khmer New Year with Cambodian workers and students living in Thailand, Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng urged them to abide by the laws of their host country.

Samheng, also chairman of the Commission for the Legalisation of Cambodian Workers Residing and Working in Thailand, hosted them at an April 9 function at the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok.

He noted that while some Cambodians returned to their homelands over the New Year, the majority did not as they were preoccupied with their jobs.

A labour ministry press release said Samheng commended the ambassador and his colleagues for their diplomatic efforts, in accordance with the government’s policy of strengthening economic and educational cooperation with the neighbouring country.

“The cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand is a win-win situation, as Cambodian workers can find well-paid jobs, while also learning valuable skills. They can return home with what they have learned and make very real contributions to national economic development,” he said.

He also praised the Cambodian workers in Thailand for their perseverance and hard work.

“Not only are you supporting your families, but you are contributing to the national economy. There are an estimated 1.2 million Cambodians working in Thailand, and each of them sends remittances home. The average amount is $167 per month, which adds up to about $2 billion a year in total,” he said.

Moeun Tola, executive director of the Centre for Labour Alliances and Human Rights (CENTRAL), said it is generally positive when government officials visit workers abroad, whether in Thailand, South Korea or Japan.

“It is important to consider whether their visits actually resolve any of the issues that migrant workers face,” he said, noting that their problems persisted despite previous visits.

“It is important to go and meet with Cambodians abroad, but whether a minister, secretary of state, or undersecretary of state, what is needed is not to go there and deliver speeches, but to listen to them. Officials should listen to their concerns and then address them. That is the right thing to do,” he said.