Taiwan-Thailand labor conference canceled: CLA

Amber Wang,The China Post

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) yesterday reiterated that a labor conference between Taiwan and Thailand would be canceled regardless of Bangkok’s decision to grant its Chairwoman Chen Chu a tourist visa. “Chairwoman Chen was invited to attend the conference by the Thai Labor Ministry, but she never made a request to travel around Thailand,” Kao Fang-yu, director general of the CLA Employment and Vocational Training Administration, told the press last night. “The CLA will not change its decision to cancel the labor conference and the signing of an employment agreement unless the Thai government gives a clear and reasonable explanation for its action,” Kao stressed. According to Kao, the Taiwan-Thailand direct employment agreement, once in effect, would lower the brokerage fee by 63 percent, saving each Thai worker about NT$60,000. Kao noted that the Thai government’s refusal to issue Chen a visa not only affected relations between the two countries, but also the protection of Thai workers in Taiwan. The political tug-of-war started earlier this week when Bangkok reportedly refused to grant Chen an entry visa under pressure from Beijing, an act which immediately drew harsh criticism from the CLA.

Thai officials were quoted in media reports as saying that the conference would be postponed because Taiwan wanted to send a higher-ranking official, with the rank of cabinet minister, to the conference at Phuket. “I think this was an excuse made up by a government which was unable to withstand outside pressure,” Chen said in a press statement.

An invitation, approved by the Thai Cabinet and Parliament, was sent Chen on Aug. 6. The two-day conference was originally scheduled to start yesterday. Chen has since blamed the Thai government for “unfriendly treatment,” saying that the CLA should review its policy on Thai workers. In a bid to ease the YTaipei-Bangkok tensions, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced his government would grant Chen a tourist visa on condition that she could not attend the conference.