Advance voting for Burmese migrants in Thailand

Advance voting for Burmese migrants in Thailand

Burmese migrant workers in Thailand will be able to cast ballots at the embassy in Bangkok ahead of the general election slated for later this year, the ambassador has said.

Speaking to DVB on Monday, Burmese Ambassador to Thailand Win Maung said that Burmese migrant workers living in Thailand would not be obliged to return home to vote.

“Any migrant who wishes to vote in the elections must first be registered on the voter lists back home in his or her constituency. They must also show their passport, not just the TR-38 which permits them to stay in Thailand. Otherwise, they cannot vote,” said the ambassador.

“We are providing forms at the embassy for migrants to apply to be eligible to vote in the election, which they can fill in and mail back home.”

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He said the advance voting would not only include students and migrant workers, but also Burmese nationals from different walks of life in Thailand, such as academics and embassy staff.

Moe Wai, coordinator of the Foundation for Education and Development (FED) based in southern Thailand, said it was most likely that only migrants based in and around Bangkok would be able to cast votes as it would be difficult for those living elsewhere to take leave from their work and travel up to the Thai capital.

“As of now, we have no confirmation about this news, however a Burmese embassy delegation earlier this year told us the plan [for advance voting],” he said. “I assume it will only be convenient for Burmese migrants who work in Bangkok or Mahachai. Others will have to prioritise their jobs rather than the politics back home.”

Thailand is host to some two to three million Burmese, most of whom work in low-paid employment in factories, fisheries, construction, agriculture or as domestic staff.

In the 2010 general election, no advance voting was permitted, nor could migrants vote on polling day at the embassy.

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