Migrant Worker Rights Network international affairs advisor Mr Andy Hall travelled to Bo Phut and Koh Samui district police stations on Koh Samui island to hand over urgent complaint letters signed by MWRN President U Sein Htay Sun to the Thai police commanders of both police stations and discuss the content of the letters, according to Mr Hall.
The MWRN handles rights and livelihood issues for migrant workers in Thailand, and has recently been involved in helping with the defence of the two Myanmar migrant workers accused of the murder of two British tourists on Koh Tao in September.
The complaint letters, sent by MWRN on behalf of Myanmar migrant workers on the three islands, requested urgent reconsideration by the Royal Thai Police Force and the Land Transport Ministry of allegedly excessive fining practices against migrant workers where migrant use of motorcycles is a necessity but lack of access to driving licenses and allegedly abusive practices by Thai police officers impacts strongly on the ability of migrant motorbike users to survive comfortably, according to a Facebook post.
Motorcycles are a necessity for many migrants due to limited or lack of public transport options on the islands.
The MWRN alleges this problem has been present for many years already but has remained unaddressed.
Migrant workers reported to MWRN that being stopped twice in one month for motorcycle violations can cost migrant workers up to 5,000-6,000 Thai baht [K166,000-200,000] or 2,000-3,000 baht per time, sometimes equal to their actual month’s salary.
Tourists and Thais allegedly face much lower rates of fines of around 200-1,000 baht per time, even though tourists rarely hold driving licenses also, according to the complaint.
Mr Hall reported that the Thai police commanders listened politely and with concern and ordered their subordinates to urgently look into and investigate the MWRN complaint letter and ensure safe and just use of motorbikes and roads for everyone, of whatever nationality, in the areas under their control.
MWRN says it will closely monitor developments on this issue.