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Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has used Section 44 of the interim constitution to exempt migrant workers from Burma, Lao and Cambodia who possess pink work permits from paying fees to return home during the Songkran holidays.
The migrant workers must, however, receive permission from their employers to leave work, and return to Thailand no later than 20 April.
Known as Songkran in Thailand and Laos, the Buddhist New Year is celebrated as Thingyan in Burma and the Khmer New Year in Cambodia. The premise, however, is the same, with all the countries bringing in the holiday with fervent water fights.
Labour Minister Gen Sirichai Distakul, who proposed the idea, said the fee-forgiveness was aimed at forging good relations with neighbouring countries and improve the image of Thailand’s treatment of foreign workers.
The waiver applies to various groups of workers, including those in the fishing and seafood-processing industries who hold the so-called “pink cards” with expiry dates of 31 March 2018.
Eligible workers must have passed nationality verification, while children under age 18 must possess passports, temporary passports, travel documents or certificates of identity.
The order was published in the Royal Gazette on Monday and is effective immediately.