Foreign workers at Mon cement plant in hot water over registration

The Kyaikmaraw Immigration Department has charged five foreigners in the township with violating visa regulations after they failed to report 11 of their colleagues’ initial arrival to local immigration authorities.

The five foreigners – four Chinese and one Thai citizen – are currently employed at Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL), a cement factory under construction in Kyaikmaraw township, which abuts the Mon State capital. MCL is a subsidiary of the Thailand-based company Siam Cement Group (SCG), and the factory is being built jointly with the Chinese firm CITIC Heavy Industries.

The accused have been charged with violating three sections of the Registration of Foreigners Rules of 1948 – articles 14(1)(a), 14(6) and 18(5) – which pertain to registering foreigners with relevant immigration officials within 24 hours of arrival at a hotel, according to the Kyaikmaraw Immigration Department.

“If a foreigner violates any rules and regulations of the country, it means they have violated the terms of their visa and then we can charge them with regard to the Registration of Foreigners Rules,” the Kyaikmaraw Immigration Department said.

“We take this very seriously and are committed to complying with all laws and regulations of Myanmar,” MCL’s managing director, Wijit Terasarun, told The Myanmar Times, adding that MCL is cooperating with the Kyaikmaraw Township Court in the case

“Eleven foreign workers, staff of a sub-contractor [managed by MCL’s main contractor, CITIC] were not properly reported to the relevant department during this [24-hour] window of time,” read a statement from Mr Wijit sent to The Myanmar Times.

MCL confirmed that the workers did legally arrive in Myanmar with the proper visa documentation.

“While our sub-contractor did not report the workers’ arrival, since they ultimately worked at the MCL site, the Mon State government has taken action against MCL executives,” Mr Wijit said.

Though reporting requirements are “to be made to and by hotel keepers”, the Registration of Foreigners Rules define “hotel” as including “boarding-house, club, dak-bungalow, rest-house, or premises of like nature”.

During a meeting with Mon State government officials on September 30, MCL executives explained the workers’ immigration history.

“To our understanding, once the matter is resolved, the workers will be able to resume working and living in Myanmar, until their visa terms expire. MCL has been fully cooperating with the Mon State authorities, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks,” said Mr Wijit.

According to SCG’s website, the company has been exporting cement and other building materials to Myanmar for more than two decades and began construction of its Mon State subsidiary factory in 2013. The Thai firm said it would invest US$400 million in the plant, which is expected to be operational this year.

Source: Myanmar Times

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