Regional Public Forum 2016

Cross-border investments and forced Migration in ASEAN:The relation of Thailand’s sugar industry to Cambodian Migrant labors in Thailand
14 July 2016
Student Christian Center, Bangkok



Project SEVANA South-East Asia

Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University

Contract Farmer Network (Thailand)

Equitable Cambodia

Human Rights and Development Foundation




This public forum Cross-border investments and forced Migration in ASEAN: The relation of Thailand’s sugar industry to Cambodian Migrant labors in Thailand aims to a better understand on how the pattern of land grab and environmental destruction as a consequence of the free flowing investments across the borders enhancing more market-based agriculture, directly destroy natural resources, and impacts of this to the flows of unskilled migrant workers cross the borders such as the case of Cambodia and Thailand.  The forum will facilitate discussion among the relevant actors (village people, CSOs, companies, government officers, and academics) on the two parallel issues, the way cross-border investment impact to environment and livelihoods, and the situation of migrant workers who came from the forced migration background as the victims of large-scale investment. The forum provides a regional space for information sharing, discussions, and debates. In addition, the forum serves as a kick-start activity to enable the relevant actors and regional public audience to gain more understanding, new perspectives and ways to improve the situation of the hidden cross-cutting issues within the region’s economic growth paradigm.



1.      To inform the Thai public on the issue of cross-border investments and the migrant workers in ASEAN

2.      To support the local communities in raising their voice in public on their problems and requests, and also directly to the relevant actors, especially government and companies representatives

3.      To reveal the key information from the Thai National Human Rights Commission’s investigation and report on the two cases, KSL and Mitr Phol Sugar companies

4.      To encourage the constructive exchange and debate among different actors on the issues in public space, which can be the way to the better the situation of land-grabbing and forced migrant workers in the future


Language:       Thai, Cambodian, and English


Participants:   97 people including academics, Non-government organizations working on Environmental, human rights, labor, Law reform, Trade and Investment, Mekong Migrant Network, Human development, cultural and Buddhism and Energy network, 

12 village people from Northeastern Thailand and from Oddor Meanchey and Koh Kong Province in Cambodia. Among them, 8 Cambodian villagers are presently the migrant workers in Thailand),journalists, representatives from international and Thai Institutes, Independent mechanism and organisations including; The Thai Human Rights Commissioners, EU, Embassies, Law Reform Commission of Thailand, business persons and 15 individuals (general public) including one monk. 




8.00-8.30         Registration


8.30-8.45         Welcoming note By Professor Surichai Wungaeo, Director, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University

8.45-9.00            Opening speech By Sulak Sivaraksa, founder and director, Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation


9.00-10.15am Panel one: Cross-border investments and forced Migration in ASEAN 


·         Migrant workers in the context of Human Rights and ASEAN - Mr. Somchai Homlaor, General Secretary, Human Rights and Development Foundation

·         An investigation of Thai Human Right Commission on Mitr Phol case in Cambodia -   Dr. Nirun Pitakwachara, Thailand Human Rights Commissioner  (2008-2015)

·         The situation and campaign on land grabbing and Thai sugar business in Cambodia- Mr. Eang Vuthy, executive Director, Equitable Cambodia

·         Crossing border investment in ASEAN: current situation, trend and a future paradigm   - Ms. Premrudee Daoroung, Project SEVANA South-East Asia

Moderator:                     Mr. Witoon Permpongsacharoen, Mekong Energy and Ecology  Network (MEENet)


10.15-10.30     Short film “We ran away without anything”


10.30-12.00:  Panel two: The changing livelihood in sacrifice to large scale investments: from farmer to labour


·         The changing life with sugar plantations – Mr. Thongpun Bunsaen, Representative from Contract Farmer Network, Thailand

·         From farmer to migrant worker: the ten-year experiences- Mr. An Un and Mr. Yoy Tai Am Village person, O’Bat Muan village, Oddor Meanchey Province, Cambodia

·         The experience of Illegal Thai worker in the fishery sector – Mr. Thanaphol Thamraksa, The local fisher with support from Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN)

·         The regional’s burning situation on migrant worker and recommendations from Mekong migrant Network  - Ms. Reiko Harima, Regional Coordinator, Mekong Migrant Network  

Moderator:  Ms. Shalmali Guttal, Focus on the Global South


12.00-13.00:    Lunch


13.00-15.00   Panel three: Request and recommendations of the people: Making the situation better


·         Reading of Manifesto of Thai and Cambodian Farmers and Peoples fFrom the Meeting in Surin Province - on the impact of cross-border investment from Thailand and Cambodia local community

·         An importance of the reunion among the divided families and community members in Cambodian people’s perspectives  - Mrs. Hoy Mai, village person from O’Bat Muan Village, Oddor Meanchey Province

·         How land importance to Cambodia people – Mr. Teng Kao, Representative from Koh Kong community


Panel to respond

·         Mr. Wichian Jetsadakan, business person and the member of the Thai PBS Television Audience Assembly

·         Mr. Wanlop Pichpongsa, President, the Social Venture Network Asia (Thailand)

·         Ms. Sayamol Kraiyoorawong, Law Reform Commission of Thailand 


Moderator:  Mr. Somchai Homlaor, Human Rights and Development Foundation


15.00-15. 30    Coffee Break


15.30-16.30 -   Final round of exchange between speakers and participants, public discussion and gather of recommendations

Moderators – Ms. Premrudee Daoroung, Project SEVANA South-East Asia



Closing words by Mr. Veerawat Theeraprasart, Chairperson, Foundation for Ecological Recovery, Thailand 

(Read in the forum)

Manifesto of Thai and Cambodian Farmers and Peoples

From the Meeting in Surin Province


12 July 2016


We, farmers and peoples of Thailand and Cambodia, have met and shared information and opinions regarding changing ways of life: how large-scale investment both in Thailand and Cambodia, particularly sugar industry have directly impacted our livelihoods.


We understand that sugar plantations, sugar plants and related industries are large-scale enterprises generating massive income for the owner. The produce is not sugar per se, but also that of downstream industries including ethanol plants and biomass power plants. The larger the industry, the more profits generated.


Overseas investment of large-scale sugar plantation and industry as well as downstream industries is expanding across the border in this region: from painful experiences of Thai farmers who engaged in sugar plantation, including indebtedness, extensive chemical use, and land loss, which is not well known to the public; to the current land grabbing by sugar industry in Cambodia and Lao PDR.


With this manifesto, we call on:


1.      Thai companies, the investors of sugar industry, must be held accountable, particularly when they have caused grabbing of land from the people as illustrated by the case in Cambodia. The companies together with the government must be obligated to ensure fair restoration of land to the people.

2.      The companies must be in the redress process, giving compensation to the people for the time when they lost their land and suffered negative impacts as a result of the companies’ investment.

3.      The companies must acknowledge the hearing process, publicly taking part in the process and working with the government and the people in finding solution.

4.      The companies must develop the policy that ensure their responsible investment: responsibility to peoples’ livelihoods, environment and resources that the people depend on.

5.      Finally, we call on the people and the civil society of Thailand to form a mechanism in scrutinizing Thai investment, domestically and internationally and;

6.      The Thai Government must develop the policy to regulate Thai investments, domestically and internationally. A clear process must be established to deal with investments that cause adverse impact to the people. Also, the Thai Government must support public scrutiny of overseas investment.


12 July 2016

Alternative Agriculture Network and Contract Farming Network of Roi-et Province and

Maha Sarakam Province, Thailand

People losing land Network, Oddar Meanchey, Koh Kong Province