Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said that the government will continue supporting workers looking for employment outside the country despite critics claiming that doing so only benefits other countries.
Speaking to workers in Kampong Chhnang province, Mr Hun Sen said that Korea and Japan are among the countries targeted to send migrant workers, while also addressing the criticism.
“Someone is always accusing me of making Khmer people servants in other countries, but sending workers abroad is not strange because it’s not only Cambodian workers who work abroad,” Mr Hun Sen said. “The Philippines send their workers abroad. Regardless of the criticism, I will continue to seek employment in other countries on their behalf.”
He added that families of migrant workers tend to earn a better income than those who stay in the country to work.
“We notice that families who have members working abroad have a better life because of their combined incomes with family members who work at local factories,” Mr Hun Sen said.
He said that the government is now seeking to solidify a deal for migrant workers to work in Kuwait and added that a Memorandum of Understanding to protect workers in the Middle East is needed.
Cambodian Ambassador to South Korea Long Dimanche said that the South Korean government increases the number of Cambodian workers needed yearly.
“The government of Korea always increases the number of Cambodian migrant workers because our workers work very hard and do not commit crimes,” Mr Dimanche said, adding that about 50,000 migrant workers are employed in South Korea. “Workers in Korea send money home which helps their families and the country’s overall economic development,” he said.
According to a Labour Ministry report, there are 1.5 million migrant workers in countries such as Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Malaysia, and in Hong Kong.
De The Hoya, a programme officer with the labour rights group Central, said that there are many undocumented migrant workers in Thailand and that the government is working to solve the issue.
“Officials are providing documents to migrant workers to avoid arrests or fines from the Thai government,” Mr The Hoya said.
About 5,000 Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand have until June 30 to receive necessary documents such as passports and other legal documents.