Aid volunteers may be ‘security threat’
Published on March 03, 2005
For reasons of national security, legal action should be taken against foreign aid volunteers helping victims of December’s tsunami as they do not hold work permits, Labour Ministry permanent secretary Charupong Ruangsuwan said yesterday
He said the government had allowed aid volunteers to provide disaster relief services without work permits after the tsunami hit Thailand, but they continue to remain in the country although they are no longer needed.
“They have to understand that we have regulations and they have to comply with them,” Charupong said.
“We have to prevent national security problems. There could be ill-intentioned groups posing as volunteers and that would be hard to control. The Interior Ministry and we are concerned.’’
However, Chakarin Patdamrongchit, secretary to Labour Minister Uraiwan Thienthong, said the ministry had no policy of arresting foreign volunteers, adding that the government should be lenient with them.
He said Employment Department director-general Chuthathawat Intarasuksri had not arrested anyone and he believed officials would not do so without a clear policy from Uraiwan.
The issue prompted Thammasat University law lecturer Phunthip Kanchanachitra Saisoonthorn to call on the government yesterday to issue a Cabinet resolution to allow foreign relief volunteers to continue to help Thai tsunami victims without work permits.
She said the country needed the help of volunteers, but the government also needed coordinators between the state and aid groups.
Mirror Foundation director Sombat Bun-ngamaong, dismissed Charupong’s reasons of national security as unreasonable. He said state officials should single out those who pose a threat to national security.
“The government cannot take care of all the tsunami victims. We have to let these people continue their work here,’’ he said.