Chalerm in bid to aid Thai workers in M'sia
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung yesterday discussed ways to improve the welfare of tom yam restaurant workers in Malaysia and offer them educational opportunities.He will today meet with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as part of a trip to address unrest in the southern border provinces.
The meeting is scheduled to take place at 9am this morning.
Chalerm paid a call yesterday on Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. According to the Malaysian government news agency Bernama, the two agreed to explore five issues, including prisoner transfers, an extradition treaty, a memorandum of understanding on transnational crimes and cooperation on Thai migrant workers.
Earlier in the day, Chalerm sat for a discussion with the governors of Thailand's five southernmost provinces and met the Thai ambassador to Malaysia.
He also talked with representatives of Thai-owned tom yam restaurants. Authorities estimate that there are more than 5,000 such restaurants in Malaysia, each hiring between 20 and 30 Thai workers.
According to an informed source, Thai authorities have long suspected that the tom yam restaurants in Malaysia have served as financial fronts for the insurgency and provide shelter to the insurgents who carry out attacks on Thai soil.
This view changed last year under the direction of Tawee Sodsong, secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre. Instead of seeing the tom yam restaurants as threats, Thai authorities are now paying attention to the quality of life of the workers.
Chalerm said negotiation, not the use of violence, would be the best way to end the unrest in the South. He also instructed provincial governors to actively engage local administrative officials in the efforts to restore peace.
"Local officials know best about the situation," he said.