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Sary Seng

WORKING PAPER (5 July 2007)

Word Count: 10,000

Keywords: Thailand, Cambodia, migration, illegal immigration


This paper examines the living conditions of Cambodian illegal immigrants in Thailand, focusing on the experiences of 30 people, 15 of whom are working as construction workers in Bangkok and 15 of whom are working as fishermen in Rayong province, Thailand.  The broadest conclusion that can be drawn about the Cambodian migration narrative is that, to some degree, asymmetrical power relations at the institutional-macro level (i.e. between the governments of Cambodia and Thailand) are projected down to the level of employers and migrants to the detriment of the migrants.  The result is that Thai employers, and thus the construction and fishing sectors receiving immigrants, are able to appropriate much of the producer surplus entitled to hard-working Cambodian immigrants.  In practice, the immigrants are working and living under harsh and dangerous conditions and are often treated indecently.  However, the incentives for migration remain far more compelling than the risks of migration and Cambodian workers continue to flow into Thailand.  This paper investigates these conditions and the broader Cambodian experience with ethnographic detail and concludes with recommendations for equalising the distribution of benefits from migrant work. Download full Paper (PDF)


Thanks Sary SENG for sharing this informative paper.

Sary SENG is currently doing Ph.D at Mahasarakham University, Thailand