Author Topic: Fancy words can't hide ugly reality of child labour  (Read 948 times)

Offline thaiga

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Fancy words can't hide ugly reality of child labour
« on: October 03, 2012, 11:58:04 AM »
BANGKOK: -- PM Yingluck's speech to UN emphasised maximising human potential, but under her watch the worst forms of child labour have flourished in Thailand


The US Labour Department late last week released three new reports on child labour as mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000.

The aim of this landmark Act is to gauge the situation, and document efforts by US trading partners and beneficiaries to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. Of the three recently released reports, perhaps the most shocking for Thais is the annual "Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labour".

The report delivers country-specific suggestions for actions that would help combat the problems. But, judging from the content of this latest report, Thailand has not lived up to its commitments.

The report claims that Thailand is using forced labour in the fishing sector. Moreover, Thailand is also listed as continuing to use child and forced labour in both the garment and the shrimp industries, as well as child labour in sugarcane production and pornography.

The report was released about the same time as Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and other world leaders had gathered in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

"During this period of economic uncertainties, we must not consider economic growth alone. It is important to put people at the front and centre of the development agenda," said Yingluck in her address to the Assembly's General Debate.

"This is what every government should do: put people at the heart of the country's economic development strategy," she said. "Because we believe that the greatest asset of any country is its people, and how much a country can excel depends on how much its people can fully realise their potential."

These were strong statements indeed. But we can surely be excused for questioning her sincerity and commitment to the issue given the fact that, according to the US report, Thailand appears to be moving backwards. Besides garment, shrimp, sugarcane and pornography, the report also added the fishing sector as one of the Thai industries that continues to use child and forced labour.

When the issue of child labour comes up in discussions with Thai government officials and in other public spheres, the tendency is to dismiss these claims. Officials tend to hide behind a romantic notion that the children in question are helping their family to put food on the table, but say nothing about the fact that their entire future is being denied because of these very activities.

Too often we see children playing at construction sites just metres away from where their parents are working. By using such adults as cheap labour we intend to maximise profits.

But we don't seem to want to know the additional cost that comes with such services. Ever wondered if the children of these construction workers, many of whom are from neighbouring countries like Myanmar and Cambodia, go to school?

Yingluck said that inclusive regional development was the way forward, adding that Thailand and its neighbours in the region have a shared destiny. But it is at the local level - the people-to-people level - where it counts the most, and not in the talk of a fancy-worded speech delivered in front of an international audience.

For its people-centred talk to have any meaning, the government must live up to its stated aim and show the public that this administration, or any other administration for that matter, lives up to its promises. Democracy is not a free ride. As citizens, all of us have a role to play, and one of our responsibilities is to hold our elected representatives accountable for their promises.

The Nation
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


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Re: Fancy words can't hide ugly reality of child labour
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2012, 07:37:20 PM »
Child labour is another form of child abuse.