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Agenda or Accident?: Unraveling the 2014 Mass Exodus of Cambodian Migrant Workers from Thailand
2015 (English)In: Asia in Focus: A Nordic journal on Asia by early career researchers, ISSN 2446-0001, no 2, 35-44 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In May 2014, Thailand saw its latest military coup d’état overthrow an elected government. Shortly after, approximately 250,000 Cambodian migrant workers fled from Thailand into their home country. In this essay, I examine possible rationales for the Thai military junta’s apparent cause of the mass exodus, by reviewing academic and media accounts and discussing them in light of actual Thai and Cambodian state behavior. I argue that the Thai junta attempted to consolidate its power among the Thai security forces themselves, on the one hand, and to fight human trafficking in order to improve Thailand’s fading international reputation on the other. The military junta had not foreseen the dramatic consequences of the announcement to arrest any illegal migrant workers and the few raids conducted by military personnel. However, in retrospect, the exodus proved very useful for the junta as it was able to turn previously irregular Cambodian migrant workers into a vast cheap legal workforce. As such, the military junta weakened the rivaling police force that had benefitted from the trafficking business and threatened the military’s power. The political divide in Thai society underlying this rivalry remains, nonetheless, unresolved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2015. no 2, 35-44 p.
Keyword [en]
Thailand, Cambodia, labor migration, military coup d’état, politics of migration, Thaksin Shinawatra
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:norden:org:diva-4911OAI: oai:DiVA.org:norden-4911DiVA: diva2:1119988
Available from: 2017-07-05 Created: 2017-07-05 Last updated: 2017-11-29

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