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November 2002, Volume 9, Number 11

Southeast Asia

The Chinese disapora in southeast Asia, sometimes called the bamboo network, is fueling Chinese migration to Thailand, Cambodia, and other countries. Many come on package tours, and about 10 percent stay abroad.

Thailand. Beginning in the early 1990s, the Thai government allowed employers of unauthorized foreigners to register them, thereby deferring their removal from Thailand for six to 24 months. In the most recent registration exercise, in Fall 2001, some 568,249 foreign workers were registered, but only 208,883 were re-registered by the October 15, 2002 deadline for the month-long registration. Some illegal foreign workers reportedly paid Thais to act as their "employers" so that they could register.

The Thai-Myanmar border reopened on October 15, 2002, with Thai authorities using X-rays to detect illegal migrants hiding in trucks.

Malaysia. The Malaysian government has repatriated about 322,180 illegal migrants since July 3; another 48,572 illegals were apprehended between January and August 2002. The government announced that newly arrived foreign workers will have to bring endorsement letters from their governments that certify that they are not involved in any terrorist groups. Human Resources Minister Fong Chan Onn said that there were 800,000 foreign workers in Malaysia which has 23 million residents; 70 percent of the foreign workers were Indonesians.

Philippines. The Philippine Human Development Report 2002 says "No solid evidence on loss of skilled manpower, due to labor migration, has surfaced. The consensus is, going abroad increases the return on investments in education and skills. Overseas work. . . should be encouraged." According to the report, there are 6.4 million Filipinos employed overseas, and 31 million employed in the Philippines. Among those abroad, there are 2.1 million Filipino workers in the US, 400,000 in Canada, and 260,000 in Australia and New Zealand.

The Asian Development Bank ranks Asia's leading labor exporters as: Philippines, Indonesia, China, and Vietnam.

The Philippine Senate in October 2002 approved a bill that will allow Filipinos who naturalize abroad to retain their Filipino citizenship.

Indonesia. On October 12, 2002, a car bomb killed dozens of tourists in Kuta, Indonesia, on the island of Bali. Bali has a Hindu majority in a predominantly Islamic country, and Hindu leaders asked for calm, to avoid attacks on the Muslim immigrants from Java.

Bali was discovered by European travelers in the 1920's and 1930's, when the island's interior - mountains, terraces of emerald rice fields and banana and coconut trees - were featured in paintings by Dutch and German artists. Walter Spies, a German painter, helped introduce Balinese painters and culture to the world, and anthropologists came to study the integration of religion into everyday life. A very efficient irrigation system bringing water from the mountains to rice paddies allowed farmers to develop the arts.

In the 1970s, Bali became a major tourist destination.